July 03, 2006

The Wiggles

I stare blankly at the screen of wiggles. Some of them wiggle at a regular rate while others look like an earthquake is ready to rumble through the hospital. Its scary to see how different they look... yet they both represent people that are very much alive.

"What does this mean?" I jab my finger at a sharp downward facing spike on the screen.

"Oh, that's a pacemaker." A nurse joins me in examining the screen, her eyes tuning in on the more important aspects.

"The spike is facing down because... it's located in the ventricular wall?" I think she nods, but I'm not sure. I think that the electrodes can pinpoint the location of the pacemaker, but I'm not sure. An alarm chimes and the nurse rushes off to check on her patient. My knowledge of cardiology is limited to reciting "PQRS wave" as I try to recall which part of the wiggle is the depolarization and repolarization of the atrium and ventricle.

All I can do is stare in amazement and shrug my shoulders as miracles are performed.

The heart monitor is like a crystal ball. Only those trained in divining its inner mysteries can understand what to look for and how to use that information. I can compare healthy wiggles to scary wiggly wiggles, but I don't know much about different leads, the amplitude and frequency of each part of the wave or how each heart condition manifests itself as electric current zapped wirelessly to the portal at the nurses' telemetry unit. I have a vague understanding of beta-receptors and ACE inhibitors, but IVs are still mysterious potions that course through the veins of the sick.

Knowledge is magical. It has the ability to transform weird wiggles into predictive power used to save lives. Someday I will be a magician.

1 comment:

  1. wow you know SOOOOOOOOO much more than i ever did before i went to med skool. i was a very un-proactive student and i worked at this place doing ekgs for two years in college and didn't bother to learn anything about them!