American Pandemic: RLS

Certainly you’ve heard of ALS, HIV, AIDS, Bird Flu, and SARS. There’s a vast number of potentially debilitating, if not deadly diseases floating around this planet, just waiting for some poor sap to contract it, whereupon there comes quarantine and strange tests, stranger treatments, and a life that will never be the same.

This being the case, Mr. Thursday brings you a warning about the Next Big Nasty Disease: RLS. RLS, of course, stands for Restless Leg Syndrome, and it’s a much more significant problem than you’d imagine. Experts widely suspect that as much as 100% of children may have this disease, and upwards of, oh, 99% of adults suffer from it intermittently. RLS is a subversive disease, which often takes roots in childhood, but lies undiagnosed until middle age. It’s greatest weapon is its stealth as there is no “lab [test] to confirm or deny the presence of RLS.”

According to the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, a “single unifying cause [for RLS] has not been identified.” That is to say, both the doctors around the world, working tirelessly, have thus far been unable to successfully find a cause for this vicious illness. RLSF notes, however, that avoiding caffeine and alcohol seem to trigger symptoms. Mr. Thursday is, as always, curious about that observation, and wonders if these esteemed medical professionals won’t look into more research on the ever so common complaint of, “When I put whiskey into my coffee, I get all jittery. Doctor, prescribe me some Requip!”

Regardless, since doctors has been unable to find a cause for unfortunate condition, nor have they developed a test for it, the crack medical staff of the Curious Mechanism has managed to produce for you, the reading public, BOTH.

It’s a simple question, asked by a licensed medical professional to a suffering patient. The answer to this question provides all the information you’ll ever need to solve the mysteries of RLS:

“Have you, at any time in the past, listened to music?”

It’s important that the doctor really puts the emphasis on that italicized part there, as it really conveys the gravity of the situation.

But that’s right, your Curious Mechanism has discovered that Music is the culprit for all this unnecessary, uncontrollable foot-tappin’ all over this country. And what’s worse, they show no remorse for the damage they’ve inflicted.

Carris Jarrell is a 41 year old single woman who suffers from frequent RLS, presumably brought on by frequent listening to Tom Waits records (most notably Closing Time) when she was younger. Asked about the pain he’s put Ms. Jarrell through, Waits said only, “There’s nothing wrong with her a hundred dollars wouldn’t fix.” A complete lack of sympathy, let alone responsibility.

Other musicians, with their funny hair and leather pants and tattoos (TATTOOS!) are taking similar stances. Asked about Maurice McDaniel, a longtime Nickelback fan, lead singer Chad Kroeger said, “it wasn’t as though he’d been killed in some sort of accident.”

So, take heed children! Beware that suono dei dii, especially those vicious, foot-stomping drums. Until next time.

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