Not the Report I Was Hoping to Hear

I was very excited about the EEG test that I had a couple of weeks ago. The technician had wired me up to the machine to record brainwaves as I performed the requested tasks. However, the lady surprised me by having me sing “You are my Sunshine” followed immediately by speaking the words. I was excited to learn that she did this because of my demonstration before the testing began.

It was with great anticipation that I went to see Dr. John Scott, my neurologist for my follow up appointment on Wednesday. I could hardly wait to hear what the EEG scribblings would show. I bet that there would be irrefutable evidence that my speech area was located in a different part of the brain than that which I used to sing. And since I can since in my “regular” voice, I thought that meant that I would be able to fully recover my normal, unaccented voice.

However, my excitement turned to disappointment when I didn’t get such a report. “Your EEG is normal,” came the report. Although that is good news in regard to connectivity of brainwaves and such, it didn’t help shed light on what is actually going on with me.

When I put the doctor on the spot with, “Well, if I just came to you with these symptoms and I had never even mentioned Foreign Accent Syndrome, what would you do with me?”

Dr. Scott told me that there simply isn’t an easy way to figure out what is going on with me. He said that in this local hospital network there simply aren’t specialists who deal with speech and how one might suddenly be stricken with a foreign accent. The closest related doctors that he could think of deal more with dementia than speech. There are also doctors who handle speech problems as it relates to psychologically based maladies, but I don’t really fit into that category either.

The bottom line of our follow up appointment is that Dr. Scott was entertaining the idea that it might be Foreign Accent Syndrome, but we are unsure of where to go from here. What testing or studies should be done. Dr. Jack Ryalls, of University of Central Florida is an expert on Foreign Accent Syndrome. My neurologist asked me to have Dr. Ryalls email him with suggestions for tests and then he will consider those recommendations and schedule them accordingly if possible. For example a functional MRI has been known to show which areas of the brain are affected, but there may not be the proper imaging tools located around here.

It is looking more and more like I am going to be dependent on some sort of a School of Medicine to launch an investigation, or include me in a study of some kind, because there doesn’t appear to be anything around here like me. Truly, I am feeling very foreign now, not just in accent, but in the idea that people just don’t know what to do with me or this problem.

There are very many people who say that I have a beautiful sounding accent. They all are intrigued by the very idea that I have this affliction. It truly is bizarre, however what to do about it? That is the question. All in all, I didn’t get the report that I was hoping for.

That is why I continue to scour the internet for more information on what may explain this. I am amassing quite a lot of documentation, but not getting to the answers yet. There is so little known about such a rarity. Still, I press on. . . there are others who are looking for the same answers out there. Still there are others who don’t know who to turn to for help. I, at least, have a group of doctors who are legitimately trying to get to the source of the problem.s

WIBC Interview for June 30th

Today’s interview with Terri Stacey and Big Joe Stayzniak on WIBC 93.1 FM can be heard at the following link. Radio Waves imagesHowever, before you listen let me explain one thing. Earlier in the morning show, Joe and Terri were talking about a bit of a mystery that is happening at the radio station. Newsman Joe Ullery noted having found two french fries lying there at the station. Previously, there were found two fingernails (of the press-on variety) that had a FRENCH manicure. I found it funny that Joe Ullery has almost made a shrine of the fingernails because they make him feel happy. Why does Joe keep “noticing these things but not disturb the scene”?  So it was my bright idea to mention a possible solution to the mystery. LOL


Summary:  refer jokingly to the French Connection mystery at the radio station, excited to see neurologist tomorrow for EEG results, singing is fine but speaking is accented, different parts of the brain?  Speech therapy scheduled to start in two weeks. When  you dream do you speak with your accented voice? Working on words to make it better. Is the accent getting better or not? One step at a time. Happy July 4th everyone!  Have a “Bangin’ Time”!

How Do You Say It?

languagesThe weekend was full of activities, and a lot of it was spent with family and friends of family that I had not seen in years. All these relatives and friends were at two different big celebrations held over in both Michigan and Northern Indiana.

All but one set of relatives have never heard me speaking with the foreign accent that had suddenly came upon me on May 12th.
So imagine for a moment if you were me; how would you handle the attempted explanation of the inevitable questions “what happened to your voice?” “Why are you talking that way,” and from the less familiar relatives and friends “where are you from?”

There is no easy way to explain it. There is a rare disorder called Foreign Accent Syndrome and it causes me to speak with a foreign accent. I did manage to tell groups at a time while we sat together after eating. Although that helped cut down on the number of repeated explanations, I still became very tired of explaining something that is so hard to explain.

It all boils down to the fact that we don’t know exactly why it happened, or if I will get my regular voice back. However, in the meantime we are pressing on with investigations and tests to try to gain a better scientific understanding of how the brain works in relation to speech.

Still, it is fascinating and the listeners dropped their jaws when I sang a little bit for them in my regular voice. Then we had a good conversation about our bodies being fearfully and wonderfully made. What about attitude? We talked about how we don’t gain anything by worrying or fretting about something that we do not have any control over. Then I was able to talk about my faith in knowing that God remains in control of it all. That is how I truthfully am able to do as well emotionally as I have been.

I explained that I can have “joy” even in the midst of a trial. While I may not be “happy” about it, I can have times of laughter with others as we note the funny pronunciations of American English. Some mispronunciations make a normal saying sound even more funny. We can laugh together! I have been told by many people that it is the laughter that allows them to ask me more questions without feeling uncomfortable about it.

That brings me back to the conversation with them about what to say when I am asked so many times a day, “Where are you from?” I always answer, “where do you think? I seriously would like to know, because we are taking a poll.” Most people then apologize and express they are afraid to guess wrong. I tell them they cannot guess wrong, and that I will explain it after they guess. Then the people are more at ease and will play the game.

Here is how the poll is going this week:
1) English/Australian
2) Swedish
3) French
4) Some form of Slovick
5) And this week I have been getting repeated “South African” and even a specific “Rhodesia” and 6) one Portuguese.

Although there hasn’t been a clear winner as to which accent I am speaking, it is clear that it is a foreign one. The easiest way to describe it is the sound of a foreign born European coming to the United States and trying to speak English.