How many times have people asked what is your profession? When your answer is, “I am a neurodiagnostic technician”, do you ever getthe deer in the headlight look? When you explain some of the tests we perform the confusion becomes clear and you hear, “Oh, that test hurt”, or “those people told me I have super seizures, grandma seizures, or spells”. Another favorite is “boy, that glue sure does stink” or in the case of the operating room you get a glare from anesthesia with a retort of “it isn’t us”. So many people benefit from the testing we provide and the critical information we assist surgeons, neurologists and other doctors with on a daily basis. The neurodiagnostic field has grown exponentially in the last 10 years and I am extremely proud of my job title and duties. When I started in this field, I was taught EEG, NCT and IOM on the job. I carried my notebook everywhere to retain the information. Due to the size of our hospital going to meetings and taking online courses are not offered as part of our job. I have attended both and spent hours studying to be proficient in my field. Unfortunately, being able to afford going to meetings between the demands of my children and aging ill parents is a problem. The only thing lacking for my career at this point is to complete the necessary credentials associated with my field. Attending the MANDS meeting would help tremendously in the final push before taking these upcoming exams.
As a neurodiagnostic technician, I feel it is imperative to connect with your patient and to give your very best with every single person. Over the years I have become attached to patients either through continuous routine testing, or kept up with by email or follow up visits. My most precious patient was a vibrant seemingly strong, healthy light hearted young man at the prime of his life. His quick wit and ornery attitude was seemingly out of place where most patients are scared and unsure of testing. After performing a diagnostic SSEP, it was obvious he was not as he seemed. It turns out, this young man had an aggressive lesion in his thoracic area. I was part of his health care from that day on. I was there when our neurologist told him he thought it was cancer, and he would have to give up his dream of going away to college. I was there when he was told he would not walk again, there when he found out (several times) that the lesions were back or had spread. With each SSEP, or each surgery (I was directly part of seven) his news worsened, but we faced it together.... He and his family, and us, his TEAM. His story is forever part of who I am for so many reasons. He taught me so much, especially during those quiet times when I was hooking him up prior to surgery. He took the shocking, scrubbing, prodding like a champ. This young man taught me more than the books I had poured over to learn various parts of my job. He taught me that we are not always right in our initial diagnosis, as he walked for many years after being told he would not. He did get to school after being told he should stay here and let his family take care of him. He also taught me that the training I had unfortunately, is sometimes tough to know, when a patient is being so positive but you already know the outcome will be negative. Sadly, his story ended in 2015. Ten years after he first came to us in our small department. As we all know for every sad song there is a happy one. My other favorite patient was a young girl with a sassy personality and a big heart. She had been having attention issues for several years, but managed to finish school and work full time. Eventually, she had an automobile accident and was evaluated by one of our neurologists. The second I turned on her EEG it revealed constant focal spikes in the occipital area. She had a very difficult time acclimating to the seizure medication and it took a long time to get her problem under control. She had to stop driving, working and had personality changes. Now, almost 4 years later, her medications are titrated and she is back to her happy, hard working self. After doing
many EEGs on her, we have become familiar with each other and I get to see her get married this spring.
Neurodiagnostics is an amazing, ever evolving field. The knowledge that has become available to us in my short career is unbelievable. If I had to say what I love the most about my job, it is the constant ability to see and learn something new- literally every day. I love the variability of performing EEGs, EMGs, the excitement (and frustration) of staying one step ahead in the operating room. IOM is by far, my most favorite modality. The contact with the patient followed by the detective work needed to keep up with anesthesia, the patient, and the equipment is an environment I enjoy tremendously. I love my coworkers, as we go through this together. Most important to me, however, are my precious patients. The children with special needs who we have watched grow up from their annual tests with our team. I love finding out a child may not have ADHD or be “zoning out” at school out of a behavioral problem, but is in fact, having seizures and can be treated. I can not help but feel a rush of adrenaline, when called for a stat procedure and find the patient is in status.... And we can hopefully fix it! As most of us know, it is not always a positive ending. This was the case for my precious friend who has forever changed my life, but knowing that I did my best and was part of his health care is a chapter in my life I would not change.
My background is an associate degree in Respiratory Therapy with 6 years RPGT registry and work. I actively sought to cross train in neurodiagnostics because of the interest I had in the field. I am seeking to become registered in NCT and EEG this year. Soon after, I want to pursue the IOM credential. This is a personal goal for me to complete what I started. I have always put my family’s needs before completing this task and it is incredibly important to me to finish. This is, for lack of a better way of saying, my time to complete those personal goals and look ahead to new ones. This meeting would be an amazing opportunity to meet several key speakers I have listened to online, connected with on social media and read through published articles. I intend to use the material I have the privilege of learning at the MANDS meeting to further my career. No matter what the next turn life throws at me, I am so thankful to be home in neurodiagnostics. Thank you so much for the work and time for this meeting!
During last years meeting, we provided a scholarship to the best essay written. Our Scholarship Winner!!!!
Mid Atlantic Neurodiagnostic Society