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Thursday, April 9, 2009

A vampire, a ghost, or deep brain stimilation

I'd say I'm pretty fast at doing EKGs. I can start and finish an EKG in less than 2 minutes, and provide the Dr. with a quality EKG.

Yet, after I was in the room of Mrs. Leed for over 10 minutes and the machine wasn't picking up any signals, I was getting a bit vexed.

"Are you sure you're not a vampire," I said to the patient with a smile.

"It's possible," she said.

"Sorry, I'll be right back," I said to the patient, and I rushed upstairs to get a new machine. "This one must be broken."

I set up the second machine... nothing. I double checked the leads... nothing. Gosh! This can't be happening. There's no way 2 machines could be broken. Then it occurred to me. Maybe something in her was causing interference. "Do you have a pacer?" I said.

"No!" she said. "But I do have deep brain stimulation." She tapped her chest, and there was a scar covering the device. She said she had it for therapy for MS. She said it helped her with the shaking.

Still, she said the battery has been dead for a year. Just then the nurse came in, and I showed her how I couldn't get an EKG on this patient. She started to say, "Well, we have to have one," but then she looked up at the monitor, where the rhythm strip was flat line.

She checked the leads. They were all fine. "Don't even bother replacing the leads," I said. "She's a vampire."

The patient laughed, and said, "I'm not a vampire, I'm a ghost."

Deep Brain Stimulation was originally approved for depression, but has been approved for other disorders, like OCD. It's a device that requires brain surgery.

According to the Mayo Clinic: "Deep brain stimulation works much like a pacemaker for your brain. With deep brain stimulation, a neurostimulator device is implanted in your chest and electrodes are implanted in your brain. Wires under your skin connect the electrodes to the neurostimulator. The neurostimulator sends electrical signals to your brain, affecting mood centers and possibly improving depression symptoms."

Regardless, one of the disadvantages of the device is it impedes the ability to get a rhythm strip or an EKG. And I learned that the hard way today. I had never heard of deep brain stimulation before.

Now we know.

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