Woman Who Went Mute For Two Months Woke Up With Four Different Accents
A woman who was left unable to speak for two months after an unusual brain injury now speaks in four different accents.
Emily Egan, from Essex, left doctors perplexed when they were unable to find an explanation as to why she suddenly went mute.
However, the 31-year-old had everyone even more baffled when she finally regained her voice, with the addition of a foreign accent.
You can hear her unusual new accents here:
Despite being born and bred in Essex, Emily now speaks with a Polish accent, but her voice can suddenly change to sound French and Italian as well.
If she’s feeling stressed, Emily’s speech starts resembling broken English and her accent becomes Russian. But if she’s exhausted, she can lose the ability to speak altogether.
‘It’s not just my accent that has changed – I don’t speak or think in the same way as before this and I can’t construct sentences like I used to,’ she explained.
‘I write differently now, my whole vocabulary has changed and my English has gotten worse despite living in the UK all of my life.’
My dad has said that I don’t sound like me any more in that he’d never imagine me wording things like I do now.
I’ve even experienced abuse from strangers who think I am foreign – I had a man shout at me in the supermarket saying foreigners like me are the reason we have coronavirus. It’s changed my life completely.
After months of tests, Emily was finally diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome – a rare speech disorder caused by brain damage. At this stage, doctors still have absolutely no idea what caused it.
The 31-year-old was experiencing headaches for two weeks before her voice suddenly deepened while she was working at the children’s home she manages in Bournemouth in January of this year.
Doctors initially feared she had suffered a stroke, after her speech became slow and slurred, and she was rushed to hospital for CT and MRI scans.
While a stroke was ruled out, doctors couldn’t understand why she had lost the ability to speak, and so she was sent home communicating solely through an app on her phone.
‘Adjusting to communicating like this was so hard, I felt like a completely different person,’ she said.
Emily and her partner Bradleigh, 27, had booked a holiday to Thailand before she fell ill and her neurologist encouraged her to take the trip and try to relax as much as possible.
Five days into her holiday in March 2020, Emily slowly began to speak again but with great difficulty and she said she ‘sounded deaf’.
In the days that passed, her voice became stronger, but she was completely baffled when she noticed it was coming out in an Eastern European accent.
I’m an Essex girl normally – my accent was really strong and my voice was very high pitched and really recognisable, people always knew it was me calling.
On holiday, I started making sounds like a deaf person trying to talk – it is thought that the neuropathways had started to open as my body had completely relaxed.
By the time I was home, the words were sounding like a foreign language.
I was so thrilled when my voice started coming back but now I don’t even recognise the voice that comes out of my mouth, it doesn’t sound like me.
I actually used to be so good at putting on accents for my friends before this and I’ve even had people ask if I’m putting it on – as if I could keep it up this long!
While Emily is attending private vocal therapy once a week, there’s no guarantee she’ll ever be able to retrain her brain to speak how she used it.
As well as her change in accent, Emily was rushed to hospital just two weeks ago with weakness down her left side and has now been diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder as well.
Her left arm and hand are now paralysed but doctors hope she will regain feeling and movement with time and physical therapy.
I’m only 31 years old and I am shocked at how much my life has changed in a matter of months.
I’ve had to stop working because my job is quite stressful and the doctors have said stress will only make my condition worse.
The hardest thing for me is learning that this voice is ok. I have to learn to accept that it’s ok for me to not be able to get the words out straight away, it’ll come eventually.
Doctors can’t predict what will happen with my voice. It’s just a matter of taking every day as it comes, so I’m just trying to stay positive and hopeful.
Here’s to wishing Emily all the best with her recovery.
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