By Aliki Kraterou
An Australian woman says that a horrendous migraine left her speaking with a thick Irish accent.
Kate Baggs, 30, an embroidery artist from Melbourne, Australia suffers from a particular type of extreme migraine, called hemiplegic migraines that causes her symptoms similar to the ones caused by a stroke, such as paralysis on the left side, inability to talk or walk – as well as the foreign accent syndrome.
Kate had the first episode in 2015, where she had to learn how to talk again after a brutal migraine – but her accent turned Canadian.
It eventually went back to her normal Australian accent until three weeks ago, when it suddenly turned Irish while she was on holiday with her godparents.
Kate has lived in Australia her whole life and has never visited either Canada or Ireland.
Kate said: “Going to Ireland has always been a dream of mine- hopefully it will be my next trip and I’ll be able to sound like a local.
“The first time I had a stroke-like migraine, it took me two months to learn how to speak again and when I did speak, I had a Canadian accent.
“It only lasted a couple of months, it faded quite quickly and went back to my Australian accent.
“The most the doctors can understand is that the migraines are probably happening at the speech and language centre of my brain.
“I was at the shop buying a toothbrush and I started the sentence sounding like the Australian me and by the end of the sentence I realised something was odd.
“My godmother thought I was making a joke, mimicking something from a movie we were talking about.
“It’s been Irish ever since and it doesn’t show any signs of going away anytime soon.
“I had no control over it but I thought ‘that sounds really funny.
“It’s constant, it’s not an accent I’ve been exposed to, I don’t have interactions with anyone with an Irish accent.
Although Kate has gone through several MRIs and scans over the years there is no damage shown on her brain.
She is on preventive medication and her episodes can last between two hours and a few weeks.
Kate says she is lucky she has the support of her family and her husband for 10 years David Baggs, 29, a data analyst who all thought she sounded funny.
Kate said: “Because I was on holiday for the first weeks my husband had only heard me over the phone so when I did actually see him in person he said ‘wow it’s really thick’.
“He likes to do different accents so every now and then he is trying to copy me.
“The first time my sister heard me she burst out laughing for five minutes and couldn’t believe it was me.
“It appears like I’m having a stroke, I can’t move my left side of the body, lift my arm or talk.
“I couldn’t speak for over two weeks, my face had dropped the way you see with stroke patients- I knew it was caused because of the migraines and I tried to get some rest.
“I’ve noticed caffeine and stress can be triggers but sometimes the migraines just happen and I can’t figure out what’s caused them.
“My body is completely unreliable; I don’t know if the next day I will be able to talk or walk so I kind of let my body decide what’s each day is going to be like.
“Letting your body to decide what it needs has been a very important lesson for me and has made a difference.
“I could be speaking like me literally in the next second, but it could last for years.
“I’m always waiting to see what I’m going to sound like.
“I had a friend who called me up and hung up because she thought it wasn’t me.
“Even with people that I’ve known for years, the first twenty minutes of meeting them, I have to explain what happened.
“The pitch and the tone of my voice is different as well, it’s quite a bit lower and more monotone than the way I used to sound.
“It’s very strange speaking with a voice that’s not your own.
“People usually tell me: ‘it’s so authentic, you sound like you could be from Ireland’.
“I am trying to enjoy it as long as it lasts as it has a nice melody on it- I’ve decided to do more things such as public speaking while I still have it. “