I think therefore I am? – The most beautiful sound I ever heard…

Photo by darin ashby on Unsplash

Over the past two years despite all the stressors faced there has been a sound heard increasingly throughout the corridors of the hospice. As many doors and windows have been left open to allow greater ventilation to allow viruses and other infective materials to be circulated out of the building but the sound of the wind is not the subject of this post. It has been cold at times during the winter and the sound of fan heaters has been present at times but again it is not interesting enough to merit any writing. When patients are breathless an electric fan is lent to them for them to have the breathlessness relieving air across the face which is more effective than oxygen and other prescribed treatments for people who can’t catch their breath. Our cleaning staff continue to work tirelessly to keep our premises clean, without their efforts we could not keep our operation running, and the importance of their infection control toil cannot be underestimated. The sound of vacuuming, wiping and mopping are commonly heard again and are not the subject of this piece.

The sound can be contagious. When you hear it you feel different. It is something that resonates inside you and it makes you feel more human and less alone. It can change your facial expression in an instant. It can lead to a sudden and rapid expulsion of air from your body. No, I am not talking about passing gas, that’s what anaesthetists do for a living, I work in palliative care. The brass band will not produce these sorts of sounds, but maybe the sound belongs in the orchestra’s wind section. Sometimes, playing an air guitar or the world’s tiniest violin can produce the sound.

A younger version of myself would be mortified to see some of the antics I partake in to produce the sound. In recent months, I have twerked my way out of our inpatient multi-disciplinary team meeting, around the corner and down the corridor, for my posterior to be captured on video for posterity. Navigating the environment with a method of SONAR which could compete with a decent dolphin. The other day I left another version of the same meeting, crawling on my hands and knees, using my head to open the double doors as there was too much women’s talk going on.

Patients and their families have commented about hearing this sound at all times of the day and night. I have heard it in the non-clinical areas of our organisation, as well as our sacred clinical spaces. The sound can warm the iciest of hearts while allowing some exercise for abdominal muscles. It is a sound of normality. It is a sound of humility. It is a sound of humanity. It is the sound of community. It is one of my favourite sounds in all of the world. It is the sound of hilarity.


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