Singing makes me cry

I’ve always enjoyed singing, usually harmony parts to whatever was going on. After I recovered from my first major relapse, I discovered that I was unable to sing harmony any more. It’s not that my voice didn’t work – after some confusion and muscle weakness in my soft palate and vocal cords, I got my voice back.

But mentally processing what I needed to sing to sing harmony with a song caused an emotional response in my brain. My throat would choke up and I would start crying. I was able to check this with a radio playing. With the music, I wasn’t able to sing. But if I was in the other room and couldn’t hear the radio, I could sing the harmony part that I knew went with that song. As soon as I went back in the other room and could hear the radio, I got choked up again.

I’ve had the opportunity to test this many times. If I concentrate on the words, and not the harmony part, I can sing. But if I think about the song and how it fits with the notes that I’m supposed to be singing, I get that emotional response again. It’s very frustrating.

The only positive about this is that it only happens with songs that I know, especially songs that I knew before my relapse. So I can make up a new harmony part to a song I’ve never heard before, and I’ll be fine.

I haven’t brought this up with my neurologist. Every once in a while I’ll bring up an existing symptom and play stump the neuro, but unfortunately she’s not much help. It’s not that she doesn’t know what she’s doing – in fact, she’s one of the top MS specialists in the country. It’s just that this is SO WEIRD that I get tired trying to test everything, and my insurance won’t pay for it all.

I do know that music engages the entire brain. “Again seen are multiple foci of T2 hyperintensity scattered within bilateral centrum semiovale, radiata, corpus callosum, periventricular and subcortical white matter, as well as the right pons and cerebellar hemisphere.” So somewhere in all those little bits of brain is the part that does music, and it’s broken.

At least I can still play the upright bass. Left hand is doing well, right hand is slow and dumb, but at least I can pluck the string when it’s supposed to be plucked.

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