June 14, 2009
Incidence of Fiddle Poisoning Rises Among Immoderate Youth
Binges of hard fiddling sicken record numbers
MT. AIRY, NC— Public health officials, who only recently classified fiddle music as a bona fide intoxicant, now warn of a possible epidemic of fiddle abuse threatening American youths and young adults.
Alarmingly, the annual number of Americans seeking hospitalization for fiddle poisoning has more than doubled since 2003, increasing from 1,239 to 2,805.
Fiddle poisoning is a serious and potentially deadly consequence of an acute, massive overdose of fiddle music, achieved either through playing, listening or both.
Symptoms range in severity from simple vomiting and confusion to seizures, prolonged stupor, discolored skin, low body temperature, unconsciousness and anterograde amnesia, also known as “blacking out”.
According to CDC statistics, teenagers who start fiddling regularly before the age of 15 have a four-fold risk of developing a fiddle dependency, and a nine-fold risk of experiencing fiddle poisoning at least once in their lives.
And withdrawal from a severe fiddle dependency can cause a variety of health problems including convulsions, cardiac arrhythmia, and even highly specific brain damage resulting from neural apoptosis.
“It’s true. I couldn’t stop this s—t if I wanted to,” said fiddler Matt Brown.
For years, anecdotal evidence has suggested that binge fiddling at music festivals was approaching epidemic proportions.
“Yeah, I definitely saw some college-age fiddler barfing in the woods that second night of Clifftop last year, very likely because of fiddle poisoning,” said Eric Frey of the Red Stick Ramblers.
“Of course, that could have just been because some guy with a beard had just lectured her on his theory of the modes,” said C. Scoggins, another festivalgoer.
Fiddler Earl Merle, who attended last weekend’s Mt. Airy Fiddlers Convention in North Carolina, responded to an Intelligencer query about whether he had seen anyone at the event vomit from a fiddle overdose.
“Uh, just me. But that’s hardly news,” said Merle.
The problem of fiddle abuse has been worsening in other countries as well. After April’s Shetland Folk Festival in Scotland, almost a dozen people sought medical treatment for fiddle overdose.
“Everyone on that entire island plays fiddle. Constantly. And the festival lasts twenty-four hours a day for almost a week,” said cellist Rushad Eggleston, who barely survived severe fiddle poisoning after his 2006 appearance at the festival.
“I’m frankly surprised the casualty rate stays so low,” he said.
But despite a solid consensus within the medical community, some question the conclusion that fiddling in-and-of-itself constitutes a health hazard.
“Excessive fiddling is so often accompanied by drastic alcohol consumption and sleep deprivation that it becomes almost impossible to measure the effects of fiddle abuse alone,” said Greg Liszt, a retired scientist who attends fiddle conventions in his spare time.
“I don’t even really believe in alcohol poisoning, let alone this rubbish about toxic fiddle,” said chemist and banjo player Dr. E. Coyne, an Irishman.
“Come here I’ll sort ye,” he added, shaking his fist.