You’ve just found out you need surgery? Now what?

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No one wants to have surgery.  But some people are so terrified of “going under the knife” and “having general anesthesia,” that they put off needed surgery because of this fear.  The good news is, today there are so many resources with accurate and easy-to-understand information that people can get much-needed and reassuring information about what goes on during the procedure they need.

One of the many things that people can do is to use music before, during and after the procedure.  Using your favorite soothing, comforting music before surgery can calm you down and begin to relax your body so that it takes less anesthesia to put you to sleep.  If you’re particularly sensitive to anesthesia this is really an excellent idea!  If you’re able to put different music on your iPod, the music for surgery should ideally be purely instrumental and have a steady tempo, close to the tempo of the healthy resting heartbeat.  Choose your favorite genre and practice listening to it and relaxing before your surgery.

For the recovery room, chose something that is just slightly more upbeat, but still gentle.  When you’re listening through headphones, you will not only be putting this soothing music directly into your brain through the 8th cranial nerve.  This also blocks out operating room sounds that can be quite disconcerting.  Especially if you happen to be having joint  replacement surgery, you can hear hammering, drilling and even sawing!  Having soothing music in your ear, through headphones can be a real blessing!

Don’t have the time or the knowledge to create a playlist for surgery?  You’re in luck!  I’ve already done it for you.  Just go to www.SurgicalHeadphones.com and you can purchase either the cordless, pre-programmed headphones, or you can just purchase the download for your own MP3 device or iPod.  Let me know if you have questions!

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Surgery with Music: What are the options?

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People preparing for surgery having been asking this question for about 30 years now.  Although the use of music in a medical/healing environment is ancient, only in the late 20th century were we actually able to measure the effects that music has on the patient.  For an intervention to be considered scientifically meaningful or valid, there must be research.  Now the studies have been done and we know, for sure, music before, during and after surgery is a great idea!

So what are your options?  Here is how I see them:

1.  Tell your surgeon that you’d like to be listening to some calming, soothing music during your process, whatever that might be, and trust him to make it happen.

2.  Spend some time, probably 3-5 hours, going through your CD’s or iPod playlists, and choose about an hour’s worth of your favorite calming, soothing music, to take into surgery on your iPod, if your surgeon will allow you to take your iPod in!

3.  Buy the “state-of-the-art” Surgical Serenity pre-programmed headphones that have 2e years of research behind the selection of the music and they way in which it is delivered.  These headphones have been used by hundreds of people in hospitals across the country, Canada, Hawaii, and Europe.  Many people have contacted us and sent powerful reports about how much the headphones helped them to be calm and feel fewer side-effects of the anesthesia and pain medication.  Also, these headphones can be used for years to come and re-loaded with other kinds of music for you to enjoy when you want to relax.  We’ve even had children use them during surgery and are hoping to have a child-sized model created and loaded with music just for children.

There is no question that music before, during and after surgery is a great idea.  Whether you choose your own music and load it on your iPod, or buy ready-to-go headphones, let yourself benefit from all the many advantages of music during your surgery or other medical procedure!

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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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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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Preparing for your surgery: 3 Easy Ideas

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 If you’ve just found you need surgery, or if you’ve decided to have an elective procedure, you still have fears and anxiety.  Everyone does if they’re honest with themselves:

  • What if something goes wrong?
  • What if I wake up in the middle of the procedure?
  • What if I don’t wake up at all?!

In the vast majority of surgeries, nothing goes wrong.  Surgery happens all over the world, every day.  But when things go wrong, whether it’s leaving the sponge inside the patient’s body, taking off the wrong leg, or breast, or hand, it’s extremely traumatic.

I was always taught that knowledge is power, so if you’re planning to have surgery, you need to get information and do everything you reasonably can to assure a successful procedure.   One of the easiest things you can do is to listen to music before, during and after your surgery or other medical procedure.

  1. If you have enough time and know-how, you can begin choosing some of your favorite relaxing, comforting music to listen to, initially for an hour each day before the surgery, while lying down so that you can practice relaxing when you hear that self-chosen music.
  2. You can talk to your surgeon in advance of the surgery and download your chosen music to your iPod or other MP3 player.  If s/he approves the plan, you can take it to the hospital the day of the surgery and begin listening as soon as you get there, and continue all the way through recovery.  There is ample research documenting the benefits of this, including reduced anxiety meds, anesthesia, and pain medication afterwards.
  3. If you don’t have time, know-how, or willingness to do these things, you can buy pre-programmed headphones that already have the slow, steady, soothing music that researchers believe will keep your heart-beat and respiration steady and decrease the amount of anesthesia and pain medication you will need.

If I can help you in any way, feel free to contact me via a comment on this blog.  Best wishes for a successful procedure!

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Benefits of Less Anesthesia

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As I talk to people about the benefits of music during surgery, invariably I get the question, “But Alice, why would you want less anesthesia during surgery…I want MORE anesthesia!” OK, I know what you’re thinking: you don’t want to risk feeling any pain or being “accidentally awake” though the doctors think you are asleep. Yes, there’s been a lot in the news about that recently. Here are some of the many benefits of using less anestheisa:

  • anesthesia can take up to 6 months to completely leave your system
  • all bodily systems are brought to an almost complete halt by anesthesia, severe constipation being a common result of this
  • anesthesia is fraught with adverse reactions in patients including allergy and just plain sever side-effects
  • side-effects include prolonged nausea, dizziness, fuzzy thinking, rashes, double vision and depression
  • the less anesthesia you have, the sooner you can leave the hospital, begin your healing journey and get on with your life!

If you could have beautiful music playing through headphones cordless, self-contained, lightweight headphones during your procedure and take less anesthesia without an increase in pain, wouldn’t you do it?? Please let me know! Thank you!

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People’s Fears of Surgery and Anesthesia

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Most people are concerned and somewhat frightened when they learn that they are going to need surgery to correct, repair or heal from a condition. Many people are actually terrified that they will not wake up after general anesthesia. Although the science of anesthesiology has come a long way in the past five decades, there are definitely risks!
Recently I read a very interesting thread on a music blog. It went like this:
Who’s been under the knife? How does it feel waking up from the anesthesia? Do you feel groggy, disoriented, pain, numbness? Is it like waking up from a long sleep? Does the pain hit you like a 10 ton brick or does it gradually set in or do you have to keep taking pain killers?
The responses were fascinating: a combination of comforting and scaring the person further. To my delight, many of the readers seemed to be aware of the option of taking their iPod with their favorite music into surgery. If you’re looking at surgery in the near future, please feel free to contact me so assistance in preparing your perfect music!
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Surgery With Music: Fears about Surgery and Anesthesia

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Surgery With Music: Fears about Surgery and Anesthesia

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