Prepare for Surgery: The “Lost” Tool

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Patients wearing our headphones

Prepare for surgery

Preparing for surgery is something that no one really wants to do, but taking the “ostrich” approach   doesn’t work either!  If you need surgery for whatever reason, you might as well educate yourself  about ways that you can make the process easier and more effective!  One of the tools that humans and physicians from ancient times have used is music!  Why?  Because music soothes, comforts, calms, and relaxes the body and mind simultaneously.  When the mind and body are calm, it takes less anesthesia, less pain medication and less anxiety medication to get you through the procedure, whever that procedure might be. Is this just a theory of mine?  Absolutely not!  Just go to www.pubmed.gov and do a simple search for “music with surgery.”  I just did it and came up with 1003 citations!!  Still, most patients and even many, many physicians don’t realize how potent music is, in it’s ability to help the patient calm down and have a better result from their surgery.  The news media seem to rush to publish the catastrophic disasters encountered during surgery, but how often do they publish simple tips for people who are preparing to have surgery?  Music is an oft overlooked addition to the tool-kit.  Don’t YOU be one to forget about music!  You can make your own playlist or purchase headphones that are already pre-programmed and ready-to-go!  Please contact me here if I can help!

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How soon will you be having surgery?

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If you’ve just found out that you need surgery, then you’re probably still shaking and quaking from the news.  Perhaps you expected it, but perhaps you did not!  So many people have a natural fear of surgery, and especially a fear of being put to sleep or anesthetized.  The chances of something going wrong are less than 1%, but if you are part of this small group, your life might be at risk.  Of course, if you need surgery and don’t have it, then your life is at risk anyway.

I was always taught that knowledge is power, so with that in mind, I want to tell you about one specific option that more and more people are turning to in order to increase the chances of a positive result and at the same time, decrease many of the dangers.  This solution is so simple that many people overlook it completely, but it is so easy and safe that it is definitely worth giving a try.  That solution is music!  Not just any music though.  The ideal music for surgery, especially if you’ll be put completely to sleep is music that is very slow and rhythmic.  It is music that has the tempo of the healthy resting heartbeat and is purely instrumental, in other words, no lyrics!  Ideally, the music should be played on a soothing instrument such as piano, harp, or flute.  Probably not a brass instrument.  Needless to say, there are millions of pieces of music that would fit this description, but after over 20 years research into the best music for surgery, I have chosen a set of pieces that I think are the best and hundreds of people have now listened to this music during their procedures and agree that it is amazingly calming and helpful.  Some have told me that they will never again have surgery without this specific music playing through headphones!

Would YOU like to give it a try for your upcoming surgery?  If so, just go to www.surgeryheadphones.com.  There you can buy either pre-programmed headphones or a download of our scientifically researched music.  This particular blog has literally hundreds of posts about the benefits, and FAQ’s of music with surgery!  I would love to help you personally if you have questions and can set up an online consult with you via SKYPE or telephone call.  If you live in the Louisville, KY area you can come into our offices for a face to face consult!  Best wishes for a successful procedure.

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Music with Surgery: Case History #6, 63 year-old woman with a lumpectomy

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Patient was a 63-year old woman who had just discovered that she had a lump in her breast.  Patient had already met with her surgeon and had decided to have a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy because they had caught it early and were fairly confident that it was still contained to the one spot in her breast.

As a result of talking to her friends and family, patient decided that she would like to try using music with her procedure in order to lessen the side-effects of anesthesia by decreasing the amount of anesthesia she would need.  She was excited to hear that by augmenting the effects of anesthesia with music, she would require less anesthesia.  Listen as this patient explains what the experience was like for her:

If you have been told that you need a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, please consider using the Surgical Serenity Headphones. For more information, see www.surgicalheadphones.com.

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Music with Surgery Case History #5: 69 y.o. female with eye surgery

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This patient came to me as a result of previous negative experiences with her eye surgeries and was scheduled to have more eye surgeries.  The patient was a professional woman who had heard about music with surgery and the many benefits, especially in terms of stress relief and pain and anxiety management.  The patient was suffering from both macular degeneration and glaucoma and needed to undergo procedures that required her to be both awake and sitting upright in a chair.  She had already undergone three such procedures and reported that after each one she had a migraine headache and muscles that were so tense and tight and even a one-hour massage did not help enough.  She had reached the point where she was willing to do anything in order not to suffer so much from these procedures.

Listen to the patient as she describes what happened:

If you have been told that you need to have eye surgery for any reason, whether lasik eye surgery, cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery or macular degeneration surgery, I strongly recommend that you consider using the surgical serenity headphones.  They are currently being used at both the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, as well as other hospitals around the country.  They will put you in a healing, sonic cocoon, and yet you can still hear the doctor if he needs to ask you a direct question.  For more information, go to www.SurgicalHeadphones.com.

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Music with Surgery Case History #4: 61-year old female with hand surgery

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Waiting for hand surgery, her 50th surgery in lifetime.

This patient was a 61 year-old female with a long history of chronic pain, resulting from a degenerative bone disease and dozens of resulting surgeries.  She is the unfortunate victim of a herditary disease, which she inherited from both sides of the family.  The condition, unique to people to Scandinavian heritage, in which the bones in the body simply begin to soften and deteriorate internally.  This patient had undergone 49 surgeries prior to this one, on nearly every possible area of her body.  In addition, she was a professional musician who had retired at least 20 years previously because of her bone disease and frequent surgeries.  Patient was on large amounts of chronic pain medication and not a good candidate for general anesthesia, and yet, this was what her hand surgeon was about to use with her.  When she discovered the Surgical Serenity Headphones, she was ecstatic!  After some conversation and a consult, we decided that she would be an ideal candidate and she ordered them! Because she was in Louisville, I went down to the hospital and was able to assist her in getting the headphones on correctly and the volume adjusted because she had to remove her hearing aids for the surgery. At that moment pain reported that she was feeling calmer than usual and that she believed the headphones and beautiful music were the main contributors to that.  Here is what she wrote to me after the surgery: “Dr. Cash, I cannot tell you what a difference your Serenity Headphones made to me during this 51st surgery of my life!   After putting them on that morning in the pre-surgery area, I began listening and was able to pretty much ignore all the hustle and bustle going on around me.  I was put into a another dimension, it seemed, where all was beautiful and soothing and I did not feel afraid.  After they had wheeled me into surgery, I was conscious but groggy.  I went to sleep lstening to the beautiful music and, next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery area and the music was still playing.  This was something brand-new because I actually woke up to the music and was not aware of pain until much later, and even then, the pain was quite tolerable. I believe that the music kept me from tightening up my muscles, as I usually do without realizing it, and let the medications work faster and easier because they didn’t have to fight my clenched hands and arms and shoulders.  It makes sense, doesn’t it?!  Anyway, thank you so very much for creating something that will help me from now on and will also hopefully, help millions of other surgery patients in the years to come!” Sincerely, Sheryl S.Louisville, KY

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Surgery with Music Case History #3: a 3-year-old boy with open heart surgery

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This is not my patient

Initially, the customer was a very anxious grandmother.  She ordered the headphones but wasn’t at all sure that this would help.  After receiving the headphones, her anxiety level was so high, even though she was a retired nurse, that she could not carefully read the instructions to make sure her headphones were charged fully.  Initially she sent me an email that conveyed her level of frustration and despair and I, of course, wrote her back immediately to reassure her. Her only grandchild was having open heart surgery and the procedure was having procedure to replace a valve and apprently there was considerable risk involved.  Grandmother had read about the benefits of music during surgery and when she discover our Surgical Serenity Headphones, she was determined to get them for her grandson. Because Grandmother was terrified of losing her grandson, she was greatly comforted to learn of all the research that documents that reduced anesthesia, reduced pain medication, and faster recovery frequently result, when music is added to the procedure; and that music through headphones is even better because they create a healing, protective “cocoon” for the patient, so that the patient doesn’t hear conversations, music that the doctor has chosen for himself, or operating room sounds such as cutting, snipping, and other sounds that may be disconcerting.  The surgery was scheduled for mid-August, 2012. On August 22, I received this letter from Grandmother: The heart surgery was excellent but “Jason” (not his real name!) did have a few issues as far as recovery is concerned during the first 3 days. During that time he listened to the headphones almost constantly. Not only did they serve to keep him calm most of the time, but also importantly utilized to keep out the side noises of people and hospital equipment. By the third day I realized “Jason” was using the headphones to “escape” (he seemed depressed), so I made a rule that he could only use them at night to go to sleep. We corrected the issues which had to do with the pain medication and today he is doing fabulously! His happy personality is once again showing through with lots of smiles. We are so happy! Thanks Alice for asking and for thinking about us and also for the opportunity for “Jason” to recover with your healing music. All the Best to You and Your Family, Needless to say, I love getting these letters and finding out that music really does make a difference for people of all ages!  This patient was my youngest by far, and I was worried that the headphones might be too big, but his grandmother was able to get them situated on his little head so that he heard the music throughout his surgery, as well as before and after. We’ve created a new brief description of what our headphones do:  “Delivering healthy music and rhythm…stabilizing vital signs and decreasing side-effects of anesthesia.”  What more could you want?

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Surgery with Music: Case History #2, 62 year-old man with Pacemaker implantation

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Patient was a 62 y.o.male who had a history of two previous heart attacks, was diabetic and suffering from tremors and generalized weakness.  Patient came to me as a result of reading online about the benefits of music with surgery and because he had been told that anesthesia would be more of a danger for him that the average 62 y.o. man.  Patient’s health was moderately to severly compromised and he also had major anxiety about being in the hospital anyway because of previous associations with being ill. 

Patient reported that he considered creating his own playlist for surgery that would included favorite country music, but after listening to samples of the Serenity Music, he realized that the slow, steady, instrumental classical music enabled him to relax more and drift off to a state of calm and relaxation.   When procedure was over, patient’s recovery nurse said he required less pain medication than average person having this procedure and that he woke up more alert than most!  Patient reported he was very pleased overall and that he would definitely use the headphones again with any future medical procedures. This man was so encouraged, he created this video testimonial for us:

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Surgery with Music: Case History #1, 70-y.o.female with by-pass surgery

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One of our first patients to use music during surgery, was a 70 year-old female with 90% blocked arteries.  She had not yet experienced a heart attack, but was in grave danger of having one.  She was moderately overweight and had a diet consisting of many fatty foods, fried foods, sugary foods and lots of diet soda.  Her exercise level was almost non-existant because of arthritic hips, knees and other joint problems.

One Fall evening, she and her husband attended a local college basketball game at their coliseum.  At half-time, the patient began to climb the stairs to the level where restrooms were and got so out of breath that she nearly passed out and could not continue the climb.  First-aid staff was called and eventually patient was put into an ambulance and sent to the emergency room.  Suspected heart attack was the initial diagnosis.  After a short time, it was determined that she should be transferred to a larger, regional hospital with more services.  This was when we were called in for a consult on whether or not music might be advisable.

The patient could not handle large amounts of anesthesia and was allergic to many pain meds, which made her violently nauseous.   On day 3 of hospitalization I met with patient to discuss her taste in music and to recommend 4 or 5 different possibilities.  Patient was not feeling well and was only mildly to moderately enthusiastic about using music with her upcoming open heart surgery.  (This was 1996)  Finally, patient said to me “why don’t you just choose whatever you think would be best as long as it isn’t “Nearer my God to Thee.”

Surgery was early the next morning and patient listened to Handel’s “Water Music Suite” through light-weight headphones for about four hours of surgery.  The surgeon called us back after surgery to see patient and was I in for a surprise!  Upon approaching her bed in the recovery area, patient propped herself up on an elbow and said “Oh Dr. Cash, the music was BEAUTIFUL!!”  I will never have surgery again without using music!  It was just so beautiful and I really enjoyed it!!”  Wow!

I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone before or since tell me that they enjoyed surgery, but then she was still “under the influence” of some of the drugs.  When I visited her in her room the next day, she still had her headphones one and said they helped her sleep in an otherwise quite noisy environment.  “A hospital is no place to get any rest and I want to go home as soon as possible.”   She went home 5 days later and is still doing well and listening to her headphones!

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