Bad: You've got a song stuck in your head. Worse: It's "How Much is that Doggie in the Window." Worst: It's been stuck in your head for the past three years.
Welcome to Susan Root's waking nightmare.
The 63-year-old custodian recently told the British press that she's developed an extremely rare form of tinnitus that causes her to hear songs in her head on an endless loop, even when none are playing in the background.
"It's like having a radio that you just can't turn off," Root said. "I began hearing tunes in my ears three years ago and it just has not stopped since."
Root says Patti Page's rendition of the childhood classic is the song she hears most often, but other tunes such as "God Save the Queen," "Happy Birthday," and "Auld Lang Syne," have also made her life a living Hell.
The medical term for Root's condition is "musical hallucination," which is described by the British Tinnitus Association as "short fragments of simple melodies" that "are often mistaken for real music until it becomes clear that none is being played."
According to an association spokesman, the songs are "often from music heard regularly and familiar from youth."
Indeed, "How Much is that Doggie" was Root's favorite song growing up. "I used to sing it around the house all the time but now I can't stand it," she said.
The BTA says less than 1% of the population suffers from debilitating musical hallucinations, and it is typically an extension of hearing loss. Root said she noticed that hallucinations can on occasion drown out her husband's speech.
She was given a hearing aid to alleviate the symptoms, but so far it has failed to fix the problem. "I've come to accept that I'm probably going to be stuck with this hellish condition for the rest of my life," she said.