THE EARWORMS OF MS, making sense of the nonsensical

“In a town where I was born, was a man who sailed the sea.” Do those words sound familiar? Do you music devotees recognize the song? By the time you finish reading this post, you will possibly live in the agony that begins week three in my mind. “And he told us of his life in the land of submarines.”

Getting a song stuck in your head is officially called involuntary musical imagery, or earworms. This has happened to everyone at one time or another. It might not be as bad if you knew all the words. “So we sailed up to the sun, “Til we found a sea of green.” That’s the real pain of the condition because normally the line(s) repeatedly circle in your brain until you just want to scream.

Living with the MonSter is much the same. I have suffered from foot drop since before my official diagnosis in 2001. It was a periodical condition that often afflicted me after a strenuous walk. It was alarming, but following a brief rest, it went away and I would forget about it until the next occurrence.

Unfortunately, that brief rest no longer diminishes the lingering and constant effects of foot drop. It is with me every second of every day. “And we lived beneath the waves, in our yellow submarine.”

Foot drop is my MS earworm. My brain is forced to constantly prioritize any physical movement based on the position of the toes of my right foot. They do not lift naturally. The use of an AFO is somewhat helpful, and I perform daily exercises to strengthen those muscles, but that same tune revolves in my brain.

“We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine.”

It is said that chewing gum helps eliminate the earworm. Listening to the song or another song might help. Doing a puzzle (?) is even suggested to rid yourself of the annoying repetition of words.

Multiple Sclerosis is just about as nonsensical as the words to this classic Beatles song. “And our friends are all aboard. Many more of them live next door.” If only chewing gum could cure the ridiculous symptoms of MS, maybe we could, too, “live a life of ease…in our yellow submarine.”

You’re welcome,

Lisa, Lady with the Cane



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July 1, 2001, six months after the birth of my only child, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.