Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The “Old-fashioned” way of doing things

Do you remember when a desk top, meant the top of your desk?  This is what my desktop looked like for a full week while my computer was out for repairs.  

I can recall when I actually worked at a desk that looked like this!  I had pads of paper, pens, pencils, a phone, a typewriter and a dictation machine in my office!  But I must say it was really hard to go back to this way of working!  I did have my tablet last week, so that I could keep up with e-mails, but it was a real challenge to work with documents on this device.  The first step was to sign onto my “Cloud back-up account” and retrieve the document I needed, then make changes and store it on a flash drive so that I could update my files when my “real” computer returned from it’s sabbatical.

This experience brought to mind all of the other work changes we have experienced, at least if you are as close as I am to being a senior citizen!  Oh, the joys of analog EEG systems!   Younger techs have likely heard the stories before, of how big and heavy those old machines were!  Can you imagine having to push buttons labeled “Fp1”, “Fp2”, “F7”, “F8” and so forth to connect electrodes in a montage several times during each recording as we changed montages?  There was a trick to punching those buttons as quietly as you could to prevent that "Pop" when the button went in, so that the noise did not wake up your patient.  Now you can get away without changing a montage at all during the live recording, thanks to the wonders of reformatting on digital equipment!  But back then, we had only one chance to choose the right montage to display abnormalities.  It was also crucial because if you had only 8 or 10 channels, you had to skip some electrodes in each montage.
And the other feature that everyone who ever worked with analog EEG will remember the most, is the ink and the pens!  We went home at night with nails and knuckles stained black, and we all had our favorite methods for removing ink from our white lab coats!
The other component was the paper!  A box with 1000 pages with seams at every 10 second segment.  You can bet that the only burst of spike and wave would occur just at that seam, when the pens lifted from the paper as the seam came up, and failed to draw the complete spike/wave complex!
It was all really great, but we are all firmly entrenched in our digital world and the benefits are tremendous!  The ability to include video on all recordings is wonderful!  Not having to find a way to store millions of pages of EEG on paper in some dark basement of a hospital is also wonderful!  And back then, we did not have cell phones to use, if we got stuck in that dreadful dungeon’s old elevator that resembled a movie prop from an Alfred Hitchcock film.   
With all the channels available in today’s digital EEG world, you can include every electrode, plus extra leads such as T1 & T2, plus all the monitors for EKG, eye movements, and respirations.  It is definitely a better world for neurophysiology, but I enjoyed the old days too!

Happy 2016 and we can look forward to more innovations!

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