Diversity of Life

8. The Resting ECG

Amber sat up and dangled her feet off the table again. "Please lie down again for an resting ECG." Amber followed Dr. Winkelmann's instructions and lay back on her back. She placed her arms on the table to the left and right of her body. She wanted to put her hands on her breasts protectively, but she was afraid of touching the electrodes on her body. Dr. Winkelmann went briefly to the desk. Amber eagerly awaited what was to follow. She looked around the examination room and saw the ceiling with the bright lamp. Everything was white and clean in the room. The furnishings also seemed modern. She remembered the entrance area, which also looked modern. Now she felt a little cold again. She felt the air on her bare skin and looked at her body. Her nipples had contracted a little and they were erected. Noting this, she laid her head down and looked again at the ceiling. There wasn't much time to think. She saw Dr. Winkelmann picked up the phone and dialed a short number. His stethoscope dangled straight down and bumped lightly against the edge of his desk. He waited a moment, then spoke into the telephone handset. "Winkelmann here, hello Mrs. Schenke, we're going to start with the ECG now. Can you come right away, please?' Winkelmann hesitated briefly and then continued. "To Sebastian? Examination room 3? All right, I'll be right there.” Amber listened carefully. On the one hand she considered that someone else should come in a moment, on the other hand the doctor has to go to examination room 3. She thought what Sebastian was doing right now and how he was doing.

Dr. Winkelmann came back from the desk to Amber. “We will now write a resting ECG. For this you get a couple of electrodes on your body. Three are already sticking, a few more are coming, ok?” Amber looked at Dr. Winkelmann skeptically and watched the doctor come back to the table. Then he looked at Amber briefly and began to work. He took some electrodes and placed the first one just above Amber's left breast. Then more followed below. Amber took every touch very intensively and carefully. Pressing on the electrodes felt as if the doctor felt the heartbeat with his fingers each time. The stethoscope kept swinging a little and touched Amber's arm several times. The new electrodes already had their leads. Amber felt some on her chest. And again and again it tickled something when a new electrode was added. The cables all seemed to be connected and moved with the doctor's every movement. The three electrodes that were already glued on were also given light gray cables. Amber glanced up and saw how wired she was. There were colored braces on the ankle that Amber had never seen before. Some cables lay on her nipples and caused a slight tingling from her touch. They were hooked up to a device that Dr. Winkelmann had rolled next to the table and served. There was a monitor on which Amber's heart curves were visible. It seemed to her as if she was completely at the mercy of the machines. Now there is no more secret, she thought. She was no longer in control. The devices now registered everything that was going on in her body. For a moment she believed that her feelings, even her thoughts, were being monitored. Of course that can't be, she tried to calm herself and wished that no other doctor would come along.

The feeling that now set in was completely unknown to Amber. She felt the hard and stubborn electrodes on her body and all those cables that tickled her skin a little. All cables led from the electrodes via their right side. She felt them all together over her arm. From here they led to the device that not only made her heartbeat visible, but also audible again. It beeped at regular intervals. The sound wasn't loud, but everyone in the room could hear it clearly. The intervals between the tones were even. Because Amber was excited again, it beeped a little faster. She didn't dare to move. She was too afraid of messing up the cables. So she lay still and listened to the beating of her heart. “I'll leave you alone for a moment and go to another patient for a moment. I'll be right back.” Winkelmann moved away from Amber, went to the door, opened it and left the room. Now Amber was alone and looked briefly at her body. Some fairly large white electrodes were taped to her chest and under her left breast. I'm badly wired, she thought. Then she looked a little deeper and saw her panties. The cuff of her panties stretched through the pelvic bones and rested only on her mons pubis. She had braces on her ankles that she hardly felt. Cables connected to the device were also attached here. It beeped and beeped.

Some time passed, but nothing happened. She lifted her head again and looked down at herself again. The cables on her body moved slightly. She now also felt the edges of the stickers and adapted to every small fold of skin. They felt like stubborn foreign objects that would not move from their position and were firmly attached to her. Through the angled lounger, she could see her wired body very well. On the electrodes, the plugs were colored. She had never experienced such a form of examination. How long and intense it seems, Amber thought. Electrodes were even stuck under the ribs. What does that mean, she wondered. The time felt like forever to Amber. Again and again she heard other noises in front of the door. Sometimes voices, sometimes footsteps. But each time the door stayed locked. She was also getting a little chilly.

For a moment she heard voices again, but this time it was different. Since they didn't get quieter in front of the door, Amber's suspicions were confirmed. The door opened and Dr. Winkelmann entered with another person. It was a slender female doctor, but not Mrs. Schenke. The doctor was perhaps the same age as Dr. Winkelman. She also wore a white coat, open, underneath a summery, shorter skirt and a striped top. She wore her blonde hair tied back. "Hello Amber!" she said briefly, smiled and looked at the monitor. "Hello!" Amber replied, not feeling at all comfortable in her current position. She was uncomfortable that other people were now also present at the examination.

"My name is Dr. Karmann. together with Dr. Winkelmann, we will carry out the next steps of your exam together.” She seemed very friendly, but also self-confident. Which examinations she will undertake, Amber thought. Mrs. Karmann approached Amber and looked at the electrodes on her body. She gently touched Amber's shoulder with her left hand. Amber felt her warm hand very clearly. For just a moment she longed for distance. But this uneasiness gave way within seconds to a hint of reassurance, which the doctor seemed to radiate. Amber looked into the friendly eyes of the doctor. She didn't keep eye contact for a long time and quickly looked back at the ceiling. A feeling of insecurity came more and more to the fore. Dr. Winkelmann was busy with the ergometer, which Amber saw out of the corner of her eye. Then she noticed how Dr. Karmann pulled a stethoscope out of her coat pocket. She held the metal tubes and let the chestpiece fall down. Then she stretched the metal tubes and put the ear plugs in her ears. Amber quickly understood what was about to happen. Ashamed, she continued to look at the ceiling, but found no point to focus on.

Mrs. Karmann quickly took the chestpiece with her right hand and placed it on Amber's upper body above her right breast. In less than two seconds, she quickly, almost frantically, changed the auscultation point. The drum was not cold. Amber was very attentive to the process and felt the doctor move the drum slightly above the left breast. She stayed at this point for a few seconds and brushed the cables aside a little. Once again she changed position very quickly and pressed the diaphragm to the middle between her breasts. There must be stickers everywhere, thought Amber, but apparently the doctor had found a free spot over the heart. Amber didn't dare lift her head and look. Instead, she glanced at the doctor. She appeared very concentrated and looked at the parts of the body where she placed the chestpiece. It looks funny how the silver hooks stick in her ears and end in a dark blue tube at the level of her chin, the end of which is pressed lightly on her heart by the doctor, Amber thought. The sight gave her respect for Mrs. Karmann, indeed for the whole situation. After another three seconds in position, Dr. Karmann changed the point again and very quickly placed the diaphragm on a spot on Amber's left side, paused for two seconds, and then took the stethoscope down. "Perfect." She glanced at the trolley and registered the notes while also taking the ear plugs out of her ears. Then she flipped a few switches. The beeping stopped.

“The examination also includes a stress test. We will now examine cardiac output under exertion. Do you have your sneakers with you?” asked Dr. Karmann while she put the stethoscope around her neck. Amber hesitated and remembered that Dr. Winkelmann asked her to take them into the room. "Yes, I have. They're over there.” Amber moved her arm to indicate the bag containing her shoes. She lifted it slightly and pointed to the pouch with her finger. As she did so, she found herself moving the cables that still connected her to the devices. Dr. Karmann glanced in the direction. "Great," she said. Amber noticed how sporty the doctor looked. There was no hesitation in her actions, no deliberation. She seemed determined and very agile. "Very good. Will you stand up please? Please put on your sports shoes right away so that we can carry out the stress ECG. We do that on the ergometer there. Karmann pointed to the piece of sports equipment on which Dr. Winkelmann stood and watched the conversation. “We'll leave the electrodes on your body for this.”