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Topey can read your heart

Melissa Topey • Jul 28, 2014 at 11:50 AM



Ventricular rate was 63 beats per minute.

Patient had a normal sinus rhythm displayed on the monitor.

I had just performed my first EKG.

On Thursday I was an EKG tech helping to save lives. Not really, but I could have found something.

I worked under the guidance of Firelands Regional Medical Center EKG tech Heather Dreschel. My patient was the good-natured and accommodating hospital employee Thomas Mason, a registered nurse in the cardiac cath lab.

Mason also has a healthy heart, I would soon learn.

Lay down on the bed, relax and breathe but try not to move, Dreschel told Mason, as if he did not already know the routine. Dreschel explained to me that is what she tells everyone getting an EKG.

Movement means anomalies with the electrical readings, she said.

Mason laid down on the hospital bed and allowed me to attach 10 cathodes to various areas of his chest, arms and abdomen area below his belly button. The cathodes were labeled, each one specific to the area of the body on which it is placed. The first five went on the right side of the body and Dreschel instructed me where to place them. I was able to do the left side of Mason's body myself.

“Go ahead honey and take a seat. I got this,” I teased.

In my defense, I get joyous and cocky in the thrill of learning something new.

“Oh look. It's working. We have beats,” I said excitedly.

Mason explained how the cathodes were reading the heart's electrical impulses to create the wave picture I was seeing on the screen.

“You are healthy,” Dreschel told Mason as she printed out the EKG.

I was taking off the cathodes and felt bad as the adhesive pulled on Mason's skin, like a bandage would.

Mason stood up when I got the cathodes off and looked at his heart reading.

He agreed with Dreschel, a smile on his face.

Dreschel does this about 40 to 50 times a day.

She had performed an EKG on a day-old baby when a doctor heard a faster than normal heartbeat.

“I had to cut the patches in half, it was such a small area to work with,” Dreschel said.

Her oldest patient to date was 103 years old.

“She was the cutest thing. She would just smile as I explained to her what I was doing,” Dreschel said.

She loves her job because of interacting with patients like these. It is knowing her work can help find whether there is trouble that makes it rewarding.

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