The Amazing Tape Measure

When the word "Nurse" is mentioned, there are two possible images that come to mind: an incredibly young woman in a white uniform holding a needle and syringe, or an incredibly old surly woman holding a needle and syringe-always a syringe. Never a tape measure.

Many people take measurements for granted, and see this tool as nothing more than an inconsequential, low-tech gadget used to measure things. Almost as obsolete, and as rarely used as the ruler. While it is true that measuring tapes serve nothing but the purpose to measure, several industries actually heavily rely on their use.

For instance, the clothing / fashion industry: seamstresses use tape measure to measure the size, length, width, girth, etc. of a person or a model. Do not think for a second that famous fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld would be above using one (sometimes he could ask his assistants to do it for him) -after all, the perfect fit is what they're all aiming for. Similarly, illustrious milliners such as Phillip Treacy, would no doubt have to rely on the use of a tape measure to know how his hats would fit on the members of the English aristocracy.

Another industry that heavily relies on measurements is the construction business. From surveying to carpentry, the deceptively simple tape measure is a necessity for every element of planning, designing and constructing a building, bridge, or anything in between.

But very few would think of the healthcare industry, when the word tape measure is brought up. The two things associated with the former are always the needle / syringe and / or the stethoscope. Surprising as it may be, healthcare workers, particularly nurses, rely a lot on physical measurements too. That deep gash that warranted 13 stitches? They had to measure it and document it.

Grandma who has a heart problem, and has had swollen feet (edema) for several weeks now? Her ankle swelling is monitored -any increase in circumference could indicate worsening of the disease.

Good 'ol John Doe in vegetative state, with a VP / Cerebral shunt that drains fluid from his brain? Measuring the fluid reveals critical information.

The Birthing Center, with mothers to be in various ETAs for their newborns' welcomes? Progress is continually measured (in the examiners's practiced fingers) by the centimeter, both for dilation and advancement down the birth canal.

The newborn then is measured every which way to determine normalcy: head circumference, length, reflexes, and more.

Same little baby that's here for a well-care check-up in the months ahead? Same thing.

While all these may seem insignificant, it's important to note how much of our lives and well-being could rely on an inconsequential, low-tech gadget as the tape measure.