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De Lung's barbershop lungs save his life

August 6, 2019

De Lung's barbershop lungs save his life

A barbershop singer's vocal training probably saved his life.

What had appeared to be a normal knee replacement surgery took a turn for the worse when Rick was moved to the recovery room, and his heart rate unexpectedly dropped to 30 beats per minute. His wife, Kelley, was summoned to his side. According to Rick, he groggily heard her asking him to to sing a barbershop song. "What? Sing a song? Which song?" he wondered:

My mind is a complete fog and for the life of me, I can't think of the first words of any barbershop song at this moment! Typical of a lead, right? "Why not sing 'Skin' for us?" she repeats, referring to a parody that my comedy quartet, The Spit-Tunes had sung for years. My mind begins to slowly open, muscle memory kicks in and I hear coming out of a rather dry, raspy throat the words"Here's a song, about something important to you! You use them each day in whatever you do! It's a different subject you have to agree . . . ."

I pause, since the lyrics are still buried in that thick pea soup, Propothol-induced haze.

"Keep going!" Kelley says as she gently leads me along with "it's all over you and it's all over me!" I say the words with her. "You've gotta have skin! All you really need is skin! Skins the thing, that when you've got it outside, it helps keep your insides in!"

Once again, I pause and she encourages me to sing a different song. I can't remember what it was, but I slowly belt out as much of the song as I can. I hear giggling from the nurses in the Recovery Room and the fog is now beginning to lift a bit more and I can open my eyes and clearly see. Everyone is gathered around the bed, snickering at the songs that I am crooning, but one of the Nurses is intently watching the screen on her computer looking at my numbers.

It turns out, my heart rate had dropped so much, and my breathing had become so shallow and slow, I needed something to "kick things into high gear!" When Kelley told me to sing, it was forcing me to breathe deeper, as my Chorus Director, Craig Ewing (FWD, Orange Empire Chorus/Fullerton Chapter) has trained us all to do. Plus the "excitement" of performing a song, helped my heart rate to come up to normal as well.

My drugged out concert may have only lasted a few minutes, but it had the remarkable benefits of keeping the heart and lungs going as they should have normally. The nurses commented to Kelley about what a great turn around the singing did for me and I believe they are going to keep it in their arsenal of things to use, if and when an occasion should arise similar to mine. Plus an added bonus: my heart rate has not been below 55 beats since this event took place.