One of the most interesting patients that I worked with was a 51 y.o. woman who was also a music therapist. She loved music so much but suffered from severe performance anxiety and so she could never play for others and had gone into another helping profession. However, her love of music was still intense and when she found that she could use the music she loved to help her through surgery, this is what she wanted to do!
She had been suffering from large fibroids, painful and heavy menstrual periods since her teens and was now being told that she needed a complete hysterectomy so that she would not have to worry about the cervical cancer that had claimed her mother’s life. Patient was extremely anxious about going under the knife, but believed that being able to listen to music as she went under general anesthesia and being able to wake up to the same gentle, rhythmic music would make it less terrifying for her.
On the day of the surgery, she was listening through her headphones from the moment she arrived at the hospital. There was a bit of a glitch, she reported, when they finally took her back to be gowned and given an IV. She said that having the soft, soothing music playing in her ears while they took her vital signs and asked a few last questions of her sister, was so comforting.
The surgery was a complete success and the patient reported that one of the best thing about having music was that it helped to orient her to where she was and what had just happened: the surgery. Despite rather bad nausea and vomiting in the ER, patient said that she still felt the music made it so much easier and more tolerable. Remember, fear is necessarily about logic and even having lots of “head” information. If you’re scared, you’re scared. Let the music go in with you and comfort you…all the way!