It’s been a noisy day. I am still hacking. There is a slight film of fluid in my lower lobes which refuses to come up despite a paroxysm of coughing. Normally a tenor, my coughs are in the range of bass/baritone and quite boisterous to boot. I probably drove the other clinicians to distraction.

Worse than my coughing is the holiday music.  The clinic fills the hallways with radio music to prevent eavesdropping.  At this time of year they are playing cheesy Christmas tunes. They are all upbeat and secular. Worse, they repeat.  I kid you not, I heard Andy Williams “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” 5x today.  In second place (4x): “Rocking around the Christmas tree”.  You get the picture.  Curiously, they play only one song with any religious reference:“Do you hear what I hear?”. It wouldn’t be bad but it  repeated every two hours or so as well. This torture has two weeks to go; I am seriously thinking of tearing out the speakers. The minute I hear any singing chipmunks I plan to go postal.

Among the coughing and jingles I had a few patients today who made some noise of their own,  a curious counterpoint to the din in the hallway. While they remonstrated about their health, their meds, or their bills (hey, not my department!) outside my door Burl Ives implored us all to have a holly jolly Christmas.

Milton once described Hell as “The Kingdom of Noise” and I think he is spot-on.  Heaven, in contrast, is a realm where ‘all that is not music is silence’.  Sold!  As I sit here typing (and coughing)  there is no music. Mr. Springsteen isn’t shouting Santa Claus is coming to town, nor is some wretched little girl demanding a hippopotamus for Christmas (heard 3x and 2x today, respectively).

Here is a proper Christmas tune: serene, dignified, and not a hint of a chipmunk to it:

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