“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without”. Confucius
I’ve always been more of a TV guy. Growing up in the 70’s and the 80’s I was addicted to shows like the Dukes of Hazzard and Fantasy Island. Happy Days, The Brady Bunch and Guilligan’s Island. The Love Boat, game shows and of course all different cartoons and so many more classics. When cable TV began, I started watching movies on HBO, TNT and TBS and alternative sports on new networks like ESPN. MTV launched in 1981 and reintroduced me to music, lots of music 24/7. I was hooked. I mostly watched music. I had a stereo, record player, tape deck and boom box but I rarely used them, it was all about watching music videos. In college that all changed to dance music at fraternity parties: Loud, bass booming party music (like Footloose). As college ended and medical school began, I stopped listening altogether, who has time to listen when you have to study, study and study some more. As my kids were growing up, I did listen to a lot of music, kids’ music: Sesame Street, The Wiggles and Barney. We also watched all the Disney video movies available.
Early in private practice I had a 30-40-minute commute from the suburbs into New York City. My choices were music, news, sports or this new guy Howard Stern. As half of America did, I chose the latter. A few years later I switched to sports then news then when bluetooth became available I talked on the phone.
“Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music”. George Eliot
In 2010 someone donated a bluetooth speaker system to the OR in the labor and delivery floor and my new-found love of ‘real’ music emerged. Even before the patient arrived in the operating theatre, I would sync my phone to the speaker and choose the music which turned me on at that moment. Bruce Springsteen, George Thorogood and Dark Latin Groove would keep me enthusiastic and moving. I am often cognizant or frightened when Aerosmith’s ‘My big 10 inch Record’ comes on or Nirvana’s ‘Rape Me’ but sometimes those are the risks I am willing to take.
To me, music calms me, allows me to focus and even wakes me up during that early morning delivery.
“I love music. For me, music is morning coffee. It’s mood medicine. It’s pure magic. A good song is like a good meal-I just want to inhale it and then share a bite with someone else”. Hoda Kotb
I have subscribed to Sirius satellite radio for the past 2 years. It is in my car and on my phone. Since it is on my phone it is also in my office, at my home and with me in the hospital. I have about a dozen preset stations. I have the 80’s, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, First wave and Symphony Hall. One of my favorites is the 70’s. I lived through the 70’s, I enjoy disco and classic rock but the real reason I love the 70’s is that it reminds me of by buddy Ian. He is an encyclopedia of 70’s music. He puts a smile on my face and warms my heart when I think of him wile listening to this channel. This is what music does to you. It invades your soul.
“Music acts like a magic key, to which the most tightly closed heart opens”. Maria von Trapp
I had another one of those 2-day labors, failure to completely dilate to 10 cm and no signs of progress towards a vaginal delivery. She was upset, distraught and frustrated that her body did not comply with her wishes. She had a difficult time accepting the fact the she needed a cesarean section to deliver her baby. Those she seemed to distress to discuss music options I took the risk and offered her the option to choose the music her child will be born to. Honestly, I was expecting her to say ‘I don’t really care, you choose’. She was exhausted, upset and not very interested in talking with me. To my surprise she said I wanted a specific station, Air1.com. Though not my personal preference, I offered, so I complied. I found the channel and played it over the OR speaker. I knew that this small sacrifice would make the next 30 minutes a bit more enjoyable for her. The best part of that decision was the joy in the surprise when her partner was escorted into the OR and she joyfully expressed amazement and love with the sound of Christian music and subsequently had a pleasurable experience. That was a double mitzvah.
“A great song should lift your heart, warm the soul and make you feel good”. Colbie Caillat
One of the most common causes of a woman needing a cesarean section is maternal exhaustion. This often happens after a very long labor or when the second stage is prolonged (trying to push the baby out for more that 3 hours). One of my favorite techniques to help a woman deliver her baby vaginally is my enthusiasm, my humor and my endless motivation for her to achieve something great. When I see my patient giving up on her labor when I know obstetrically that she can totally do it I often place my cell phone near the head of her bed and play this album. In High School or College I signed up for the Columbia Records club. You get ten albums (records, tapes or CD’s) for 1 cent. One of my albums was called Stadium Music. It is a remake of songs you hear at sports arenas like ‘I like to move it’, ‘We will Rock You’ and ‘Mony Mony’. This music rocks the room, it rocks the family and it rocks my world. It immediately gives a revived sense of inspiration, puts a smile on everyone’s face and gives a sense of calm, humor and motivation (my 3 best attributes). The nurses look at me in awe (or confusion), the patient smiles in amazement and her partner and family often start to wake up and dance.
“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations”? Jane Swan
My daughter loves music. She can play 5 different instruments, she listens to music on her phone and she plays vinyl on her record player. She has a magical voice given to her from the Gods (considering neither my wife, myself or either of our parents or siblings can carry a tune). She has been in musical theatre since she was 5. She has a love for show tunes, the 80’s and the Beatles. It is every parents dream to see their child happy. Lexi is always happy when she is singing. Lexi and I have a duet. We sing Madonna’s Material World together. She sings the song and I sing “ Living in a material world”. This is our thing and it can cheer me up on the worst of days. This is how music affects me personally.
“Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch”. Debasish Mridha
Give it a try. Stop, drop and turn on some music. You will be amazed how your soul will fill and you will energized.