According to The Los Angeles Times as medical oddities go, this incident stands out: A lifelong resident of Oregon went to the dentist for surgery and awakened from sedation speaking in a British, or somewhat-British, accent.
The 56-year-old woman appeared Thursday on NBC’s “Today,” answering questions in what this MSNBC story describes as “an odd mixture of Irish, Scottish and northern British, with perhaps a dash of Australian and South African for good measure.”
Some speculate that she may have foreign accent syndrome, a rare but real speech disorder. It’s most often caused by a stroke, but can also be caused by a blow to the head, brain hemorrhage or multiple sclerosis.
A person’s speech is still understandable, but the rhythm is unusual, according to a University of Texas at Dallas primer on the disorder. People may have trouble pronouncing consonant clusters or elongate their vowels.
Before patients panic over this story they need to understand that this is very rare. When patients awake from plastic surgery it is realistic to expect to feel groggy, and sore depending on the procedure. Dr. O’Toole explains to breast augmentation patients that after surgery they will feel pressure on their chest and possible muscle spasms. Pain medication and muscle relaxants should help to manage the pain. After abdominoplasty patients can expect to feel a tightness of the skin and very tight muscles similar to the feeling after a very difficult and intense workout. Dr. O’Toole explains the importance of walking around after the procedure even though it may be uncomfortable. It is important to reduce the risk of blood clots by making sure the patient is mobile. The overwhelming majority of patients have a satisfactory recovery experience and feel that the results outweigh any discomfort they may have felt.
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