A Musical Cavity

I sit down in the waiting room,

The radio barks out some tune;

My surgery will soon begin,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

I’m ready for the surgeon’s knife,

I hope that I leave with my life;

A layer of sweat forms on my skin,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

A man is standing over me,

I hear him shout “AC/DC!”

A shudder creeps up through my shin,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

He tries to reach my funny bone,

I scream and gasp and cry and moan;

The nurse says, ‘Mozart, do your thing’

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

And now I’m shaking at the knees,

My head feels like I have brain freeze;

The man has left from deep chagrin,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

There was no help, no help from you,

You did not realise what to do;

A female surgeon now walks in,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

She goes straight for my broken heart,

Removing it with grace and art;

My cavity let’s out a ping,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

“It’s just my nose”, I try to yell,

It does that when I’m pleased as well;

She hasn’t heard a single thing,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

And now as I recuperate,

I’m feeling good, my heart sounds great

The birds outside begin to sing,

I wish that they’d turn off that din.

 

Cavity Sam (Photo Credit: Steve Berry)

This is a pantoum, inspired by recent research which investigates the effect that different types of music can have on people when they are pretending to be a surgeon.

Investigators asked 352 members of the public to participate in Operation, a board game from Hasbro which involves players trying to remove different parts of a patient called ‘Cavity Sam,’ without touching the edge of the cavity openings, thereby setting off a buzzer and lighting up Sam’s nose. During the investigation, the participants were asked to listen to one of three randomly selected tracks of music: Andante from Sonata for Two Pianos by Mozart, Thunderstruck by AC/DC, and the sound of an operating theatre. The results found that whilst women were unaffected by the choice of music, men were slower and more prone to making mistakes when listening to AC/DC as opposed to Mozart or the sound of an operating theatre.

This research, although tongue-in-cheek, is at the heart of a serious issue that is currently being discussed in hospitals: the use of music in operating theatres, as some practitioners say that it helps them to focus, whereas others claim that it can lead to distractions.

As the researchers note in the conclusions to their study: “Rock music (specifically Australian rock music) appears to have detrimental effects on surgical performance. Men are advised not to listen to rock music when either operating or playing board games.”

 

An audio version of the poem can be heard here.

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