Surgical Serenity Blog Series, Post #7: Looking back on how music helped me navigate my cataract surgery


I’m hoping that you’ll excuse me for not doing a video every day with my blog post as I said that I would.  After having cataract surgery on Wednesday morning, I’m just not looking as bright and perky as I’d like to and so I’ll just use some still photos that others are taking to help me follow this process.  Yesterday was the first day post-op and I felt pretty good although a little tired from all of the Versed that they gave me.  Thinking about the music through the two different headphones that I used, I know that I would have been waayyy more anxious without it.  I could feel my breathing particularly, relax and slow down when I would put the headphones on.  I actually used both types of pre-loaded headphones at different points during the surgery, but decided on the “patient model” to wear into the cataract procedure.  The reason was just the simplicity of turning it off and on and they volume was already adjusted perfectly for me.

About 4 years ago, I had taken a friend for cataract surgery at this very same SurgeCenter and had to do much more explanation of what the headphones were about and that they had been specifically created for surgery to lower anxiety and pain perception.  This time, I didn’t have to explain anything to anyone.  On the contrary, they were asking me questions about how I like them, where I got them, and if other hospitals and doctors in Louisville were also using them!!  When I explained that Drs around the world are using not only the headphones but also the surgery playlists with Bluetooth headphones.  So yesterday for the first cataract surgery was a big success and a way for me to benefits for the healing power of music, get my vision sharpened up again, and tell people around the world about not only the two models of headphones, but also our five mobile apps,, and our new ebook on surgery:

preparing for surgery

Dr Cash’s book on surgery is available in the Kindle bookstore on Amazon for $9.99.  It will soon be available in hard copy on Amazon, as well!


Surgery Music Series: Day #6 Cataract Surgery with Music


I couldn’t post this yesterday because I was having eye surgery but I did document the procedure throughout the day and here are the pics!  This was the first time I’ve had surgery in about 26 years and my first time to use the Surgical Serenity Solutions headphones during surgery.  The procedure was cataract surgery on the right eye with replacement with a multi-focal lens.  It was supposed to be a very simple procedure, but as I said in the Day 5 blog post and video, just the thought of not being able to respond while someone works on my eye with a scalpel, was a little bit terrifying, so I knew that I needed the soothing serenity music in addition to their Versed.

When I first got there yesterday morning, it was still dark and cold outside, so here I am in the lobby of the Surge Center:  Shortly  after  this  photo,  they  summoned  me  to go  back  and  be  prepped  for  surgery.  The  very  kind  and  patient  pre-surgery  nurse  helped  me  out  of  my  clothes  and  into  my gown,  asked  me  lots  of  questions  and  then  I put  on  my  headphones  and  started  relaxing  to  the  beautiful  music.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity and still being wide-awake, I thought I would make a little video for you:  Here is the brief video that I made, and almost immediately after this I was wheeled into surgery;


The cataract surgery didn’t take more than 20 minutes, if that.  From the moment it was over, I didn’t remember a thing about it even though I was not given a general anesthesia.  I was given the drug Versed which makes you very relaxed and makes you not remember anything.  I know that the music was playing the entire time and the team was able to do their work quickly and accurately.



I spent most of the rest of yesterday sleeping comfortably.  Here’s is the documentation of that.  The  staff  at  the  surgery  center  were  all  fascinated  by  the  headphones  and  wanted  to  know  all  about  their  history  and  where  they  could  purchase  them.  I’ll  continue  more  about  this  tomorrow.



Surgery with Music Blog Series, Day 5: Preparing to have surgery with music


Tomorrow I am having surgery.  Am I anxious and afraid of experiencing pain?  The answer is absolutely “YES!”  Who can bravely walk into a surgery facility without their heart racing and their mind going through a list of “what-ifs?”  Not me.  Of course I trust my doctor to know exactly what she’s doing.  Of course I want my vision to be lots better because it has seriously deteriorated recently.

So how am I preparing for my cataract surgery?  I am literally doing everything possible to make sure that my experience tomorrow goes as smoothly as possible and that my 24 hours of complete rest and inactivity is as pleasant as possible.  I’ve been cleaning the house like crazy so that when I’m lying on the couch my view will be calm and pleasant.  I’ve bought some of my favorite simple to digest foods, like eggs and simple soups, yogurt and good bread.  Of course I have lots of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

But the biggest thing will be the music that I take with me.  Of course I have lots of choices.  I have both models of our Surgical Serenity Solutions headphones with our classical playlist pre-loaded onto the headphones.  They will play continuously  for 8-10 hours and I will put them on as soon as I check in at the surgery center tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.  I will be working on this blog post throughout the day to document to you and for myself, how my feelings go through this day.

It’s now almost 3:30 PM EST and I’m going to have to finish this post up.  I still have 3 Therapy sessions to conduct today with other people and I want to get to bed by 10 PM in order to be at the Surgery Center tomorrow by 7:15 AM.  I will make an actual video of myself now, explaining the two pre-loaded models of headphones available as will as showing how the mobile app works with Bluetooth headphones.  If possible, I will do a live video from the pre-op area tomorrow but probably not the cataract procedure room and almost certainly not from the recovery area. Please say a prayer for me tonight for calm and serenity both tonight and healing for tomorrow.  The Dr will be inserting a tri-focal lens into each eye after removing the cataract.


Day 4 of Music with Surgery Blog Series: Treating Anxiety and Pain Perception


This week we are looking at the many reasons that people use music with their surgeries.  For me, the reason has always been to ease anxiety and to decrease pain perception so that I don’t have to use any more pain medication than is absolutely necessary.  If course I don’t want to feel pain, but I also don’t want to be dependent on or addicted to opioid medication.

It’s not that the Drs don’t know how to prescribe these medications safely, but some people are just inherently prone to addiction.  There seems to be a true genetic tendency that is passed down in families and if that’s the case with your family, you might want to look into whether music will be an option for you!

As it turns out, I will be having surgery myself in less than 48 hours!  Will I be using music?  Of course!!  I’m having cataract surgery this Wednesday morning, January 8, as well as next Wednesday morning, January 15.  I have chosen to use my original pre-loaded headphones with the classical playlist because that’s the kind of music that I prefer.  This beautiful classical piano music is played by my dear friend and local concert pianist, Samuel Hodges.  I’ve heard it probably hundreds of times, but I never get tired of it and it always soothes and comforts me.

What is my anxiety level, you ask?  Well, not to make you uncomfortable, but just the thought of someone touching my eye with a scalpel and removing something, then adding something else, kind of freaks me out!  I know that my doctor is extremely capable and experienced but I’d rather not have surgery if there were any other way to deal with my declining visual acuity.  I know that our headphones have been used in this very facility before but I fully expect to have to convince some of the staff that they are not only perfectly safe, but were actually created for surgery and hold a U.S. Patent!  I went through all of this several years ago when I took a friend for his cataract surgery.  By the time I finished my pitch, everybody wanted to try them out and the surgery center made plans to order them for ALL of their patients!

Now that we have the 5 mobile apps for surgery, it’s even an easier process for people who want to bring their own Bluetooth headphones.  And there are some hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers that are purchasing their own Bluetooth headphones and then subscribing to out playlists on a yearly basis to provide this music to their patients!  It’s great for patient satisfaction scores!

Please pass this link on to your doctors and friends!  Getting the word out is critically important if we want to make the operating room a safer, kinder and friendlier spot!


Day 3 of Surgical Serenity Solutions Blog Series: Benefits of headphones during surgery


Thanks for staying with me on our 30-day blog series and welcome to Day 3.  Yesterday we talked about the benefits of music for calming anxiety and decreasing pain perception.  Today I want to talk about the huge benefit of delivering this music through headphones.  You might be surprised to know that every day, there are a few unfortunate people who wake up from general anesthesia, reporting that they heard conversations of the medical staff during their procedure.  Admittedly, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it can be quite upsetting.

We all want to think that the staff is focusing 100% on us and our procedure, but patients awaken saying that they heard not only conversations about what the staff had for breakfast or lunch, but sometimes conversations about “last night’s date!”  Even worse, I think, are the conversations about the patient himself that are not always positive.  Or conversations about surgical outcomes that are not going to be positive.

This is one of the main reasons that allowing the patient to have his own music coming through headphones is so important.  Not only do the headphones allow the music to go straight to the brain, through the eighth cranial nerve, but the headphones also block conversations in the operating room that the patient does NOT want or need to hear.

Listen to this patient, still in the hospital after his surgery, tell how his headphones during surgery experienced went!

Finally, more and more surgeons choose the music that THEY want to hear during surgery.  More often than not, this music is upbeat and not at all the soothing, slow, steady music that the patient needs.  When the patient is having their ideal music delivered through headphones, the surgeon can listen to whatever he wants and then everybody is happy.

Surgical Serenity has created cordless headphones that are pre-programmed with the ideal music, OR you can download our apps on Apple or Google Play.  Just go to and choose the genre that most appeals to you.  Then get your bluetooth headphones or ear-buds, and you’re ready to go!!

See you tomorrow!



Surgical Serenity Day 2 of our Blog Series: Why Use Music during Surgery?


The use of music during surgery is becoming more and more popular around the world. And that’s for one, important reason: it works!  Physicians and healers have known for literally thousands of years that the soothing sounds and rhythms of music can calm the human body and mind.  They have known that different instruments and voices can all produce their own kinds of healing and soothing music. The possibilities are literally endless.

So what does music do specifically during surgery?  You probably know that there are many rhythms going on in our body at any one time and when our body is calm, relaxed and healthy, those rhythms are very steady and regular.  When

you’re anxious, as most people are before surgery, rhythms such as heart rate and breathing, tend to be more rapid.  When your breathing is rapid, it’s usually also shallow and that means that your blood is not getting as much oxygen and your muscles are probably more tense.  The same is true with a rapidly beating heart.

When you listen to music, through headphones, that is calming and soothing for YOU, your heart rate and breathing tend to synchronize with the music, through a process called rhythmic entrainment.  When you are calm and relaxed going into surgery, your anxiety level goes down, your muscles release excess tension and it generally takes much less medication and anesthesia to get you ready for your procedure.

It doesn’t even matter if you’re have general anesthesia, regional, or local anesthesia, have your preferred type of music, through headphones, will make the procedure go more smoothly!  We offer 5 different playlists for surgery that can be downloaded from the App Store at, as well as a new book about Surgery with Music that is available in the Kindle Store! The title is “Having Surgery?  Using Music to decrease Anxiety and Pain Perception” and is $9.99.

See you tomorrow!


Welcome to Surgical Serenity Solutions 2020 Blog Series!


Are you hungry for information about Music and Surgery?  Have you heard tidbits here and there about music’s power to greatly improve surgical outcomes, but just not sure how to implement the idea?  Have you had some negative surgical experiences in the past and are very anxious about going through it again for fear of a repeat?

If any of these are true, then this is going to be a great month for you to cozy up by the fireplace with your laptop, iPad or iPhone, and learn a little more each day about the many, many benefits of adding music to your surgical procedure, how to acquire the very best playlists, what constitutes the very best playlists, what the scientific research says about the importance of music with surgery, what Drs and other health professionals say about music and surgery, what patients have to say about how music improved their surgical experience, and how to get the right headphones for yourself!

Because I believe so strongly in this idea, I agreed to take a challenge that one of my fellow bloggers issued to do a blog post a day for the entire month of January on a topic near and dear to our hearts!  And I’m going to sweeten the deal by adding a video version of the blog post to each day’s offering.  I hope that you will find this helpful and that you will forward this valuable information to family and friends around the globe!

I’ve now spoken to audiences on this topic all over the continental United States as well as audiences in Hawaii, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, and coming soon…Norway!!!  Here is my tentative schedule:

January 1-7:   Overview of importance and benefits of music during surgery

January 8-15:  Characteristics of the ideal music for surgery, finding this music online, choosing the best headphones for YOU!

January 16-23:  What the medical and music therapy research says about this concept

January 24-31:  What physicians, nurses, and patients report about their experiences using music with surgery!

Anytime this month that you have a question, please post it here on this blog and I will address it immediately!  You can also post it on the Surgical Serenity Solutions Facebook page!



Alice Cash, PhD, LCSW

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