Singing through surgery

Pastoral Messages | September 2, 2021

Heidi wheeled me into the surgical suite just before noon yesterday. We’d never met before. But whoever goes for the heated blankets when there’s a chilly patient on a gurney is, in my estimation, the cat’s pajamas. That was Heidi.

As the surgical prep for my thumb repair got underway, I asked her who gets to choose the music that comes through the speakers. “Well, we kinda just agree on it. Your surgeon doesn’t like country western, so today it’s classic rock.” Once the blood pressure cuff was on, the IV flowing, and the tent was in place to block my view of the operation, the doc rolled up his stool and readied his scalpel.

Savage Garden, the Australian pop duo, was just coming on in that operating room with one of their popular singles. The surgeon started singing along: I wanna stand with you on a mountain. I’m flat on my back and not close to a mountain, but I thought to myself, “Sure. Maybe we will stand together on a mountain someday. But right now, just make this surgery a success so that I can self-button my shirts again, get my hand to wrap around my bike hand grip, and maybe even unscrew a bottle cap again.”

I wanna bathe with you in the sea, he sang, pouring ice cold water over my hand and asking if I could feel it through the local anesthetic. Did he coordinate that on purpose? I’ll be your hope, he continued, singing along with the album. I thought to myself, “Never mind being my hope. Just be focused. When you cut the tendon, and loosen the joint capsule; when you scrape out the scar tissue, and remove the hardware in there, just do it well.” My surgeon kept singing. I’ll be your love. “Gosh, he’s gotta know I’m married. Right? Well, regardless, he seems like a neat guy who must have all kinds of friends in his life who love him.”

This obviously wasn’t the first time he heard this song. He kept singing happily along. I’ll be everything that you need. “Well, I’m just counting on your training and residency and experience to be everything that YOU need. And, by the way,” I almost blurted out, “How many more minutes before you loosen that darn tourniquet on my forearm?”

I can’t think of many exacting skills I might be able to perform where I could manage to sing at the same time. Heck, I can barely coordinate singing with bending over to tie my shoes. What I decided in the end was that this surgeon not only loves his work; he’s also gifted and confident enough to be able to break into the joy of song. There’s a takeaway there … one I think I have something to learn from.

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

22 Comments on “Singing through surgery”

  • Jane Strittmater

    September 16, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Sounds like all went well – I had surgery once where the doctor told jokes and asked questions which was all well and dandy but I was having a mole taken off above my lip and I couldn’t talk, let along laugh at his jokes – some of them were funny. You’ll have full use of your thumb in no time.

  • Larry Price

    September 6, 2021 at 10:04 am

    Pastor Marty….Lyn and I both wish you a speedy recovery…I’m sure many of us have wondered how surgeons (and dentist too) can talk or sing and concentrate on their business at the same time. Practice makes perfect!!! Get well soon…remember there’s always velcro!!

  • Barbrie Denato

    September 6, 2021 at 5:50 am

    Hope everything went well! Speedy recovery!

  • Bob Schwieder

    September 3, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    Interesting and enjoyable …….yet thought provoking,,,,,,hope & pray for a complete recovery

  • Kaaren Nelson

    September 3, 2021 at 8:39 am

    This has been a very long recovery for you! I hope this is the last step in your journey and that very soon you are back to doing all those things that have been lost to you for these many weeks!

  • Deb Lamp

    September 3, 2021 at 8:22 am

    What a great story, at least your surgeon was in a good mood. Hope all heals as it should. Good luck?

  • Rosita Tendall

    September 3, 2021 at 8:05 am

    My kinda guy! Hope it went well!

  • Kaaren Nelson

    September 3, 2021 at 6:06 am

    I hope you have a rapid recovery. You have been dealing with this for a long time— time to be on the last leg of your recovery!

  • Diane Swayne

    September 2, 2021 at 8:38 pm

    We hope your surgery was successful.
    Prayers for a complete recovery!

  • Marie Lindmark

    September 2, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    Many tuneful thoughts for a successful outcome?

  • Linda Martin

    September 2, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Peter, bending over tying your shoes is very poor singing posture!!! No wonder you struggle with that–ha! ha! Best wishes and prayers for a successful, speedy recovery.

  • Gay Jasper

    September 2, 2021 at 5:19 pm

    Hoping for a speedy recovery! I had basal joint arthroplasty, but no one sang to me! Matter of fact…they made me sleep through it. Maybe they couldn’t sing? Anyhow, prayers for thumb usage again! 🙂

  • Darla DeVriendt

    September 2, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    Thumbs up for a speedy, successful surgery! ?

  • Sheila Mesick

    September 2, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing this experience and reminding us there’s always a lesson waiting to challenge our learning curve. Best wishes to recovery and many shirts to button!

  • Irene Hanssen

    September 2, 2021 at 3:30 pm

    I can see the scene very clearly. As a former. OR nurse this was the surgeon you wanted to spend your day with.

  • Irene Hanssen

    September 2, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    I see the scene very clear. As a former or nurse, this was the surgeon you wanted to spend your day with.

  • Christie Novak

    September 2, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    That’s amazing! Singing and surgery is a talent for sure! Hoping for a speedy recovery for you!

  • Sheryn Levings

    September 2, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    To a joyful and speedy recovery!

  • Sarah Thomas

    September 2, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    It’s so nice to check that big day off your calendar. I hope you heal quickly.

  • Linda Cammilleri

    September 2, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Hope all turned out well for you ?

  • Kathy Schutman

    September 2, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Have to love a singing surgeon! Hope your recovery goes well and that you are back to doing all of the things you mentioned.

  • Suzanne Benson

    September 2, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Fingers crossed for successful and speedy recovery!

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