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Ask Dr. Gott
Anesthesia produces mysterious music
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DEAR DR. GOTT: I liked your response to the reader who objected to the word "pee" in your column.
    It reminded me of a conversation I had with the dean of a local junior college. We were discussing words, and he pointed out that by the usual criteria those Anglo-Saxon "four-letter words" should be completely acceptable as they are of long standing use, clear and concise and UNIVERSALLY understood.
    It happens with other words, too. I always liked the story of a middle-aged woman who, being a single lady, decided she would like to have a dog to keep her company. She decided a female would be the appropriate choice.
    At the pet store the clerk priced various breeds, saying, "That little bitch is $35 and that bitch is $50."
    He noticed that she flinched each time and asked, "is that the first time you have heard that word used?"
     "No, but it's the first time I ever heard it applied to a DOG!"
    DEAR READER: Nice story. "Pee" is the first-letter of a four-letter word that, in my opinion, is unacceptable in social conversation. Same with other four-letter-words; they are really not appropriate. That's precisely the reason I used "pee": it's casual, understood and catches your eye — well, not your eye but certainly the eyes of people who have a short literary fuse. Thank Heaven they don't read modern novels or watch certain TV programs!
    DEAR DR. GOTT: This may be one of the more bizarre letters that you'll ever receive, but, anyway, here goes.
    I am in my 70s. I recently had a medical procedure done in a hospital under local anesthesia. (I had a mild heart attack and a TIA episode in the rarified air in the high altitude western desert.) During the procedure, I began to hear loud music. I asked the doctor if the music could be turned down. He said, "what music? I don't hear any." That was six weeks ago.
    I continue to hear the music throughout the day, and it continues until I fall asleep. (It even tends to distract my nighttime prayers, but it does have a lulling effect.) The music is patriotic and religious in nature — orchestral and choral. I cannot erase it, so I have accepted it — so far.
    I don't know the cause of this. I don't think my mind is going, but one never knows. Can you shed some light on the phenomenon.
    DEAR READER: For some reason, the part of your brain that interprets the sounds we call "music" has failed to shut down so you hear notes when none are produced in your environment. This reaction, which is harmless but annoying, can follow various forms of anesthesia. I recommend that you seek out a consultation with an ear, nose and throat specialist who should be able to shed some light on this bizarre phenomenon and suggest ways of handling it.
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