SNELLVILLE, GA. – A Geogia mom went to the hospital for a stroke and came home with a British accent and bad teeth.
Ryn Scarabin grew up in Metter, and could speak “Southern” all her life. That changed in February when Ryn started experiencing stroke-like symptoms. Suddenly she was sounding like Princess Di.
“Of course, people don’t believe me when I say, ‘I’m from Georgia,’ or, ‘I’m a Georgia girl, just like everybody else,’” said Scarabin.
Because the Snellville mother of two sure doesn’t sound like it.
“I hear people say Britain. I hear people say Australia. I hear people say South Africa,” she said, adding that she’s never visited any of those countries.
Her Georgia twang disappeared in February after Ryn was rushed to the ER with stroke symptoms.
“The first couple of days no matter how complex the word was, she could only get one syllable,” said Karl Scarabin, Ryn’s husband.
“By the end of the week, it was getting better, but my words were quite choppy and I was taking on what some told me was almost like an Asian accent,” Ryan said.
Then things got stranger after a week in the hospital. Karl said his wife suddenly had a British accent.
“Some sort of misfiring occurred in my brain, because, of course, my speech is totally altered. It’s suspected I had maybe a small stroke,” Ryn Scarbin said.
Scans of Ryn’s brain are normal and show no sign of stroke – a fact that baffles her neurologist, Dr. Joseph Weissman.
“This is not a condition that is a well-recognized diagnosis,” said Weissman.
Ryn says some of her doctors have suggested her accent change is psychological, brought on by stress.
Dr. Weissman, has only found about 30 cases like hers, but most of them involve a trauma to the brain.
“Generally what happens is a person has some problem like a stroke and they have some trouble speaking and when they start speaking again, they appear to be speaking with a foreign accent,” said Weissman.
Ryn has no other symptoms other than the accent, and that makes life a little odd.
“I was speaking to a friend the other day and we were excited about something we were talking about and I was just about to say, ‘Spot on!’ And who says ‘Spot on!’ from South Georgia,” she said.
No one knows how long the accent will last. But many are tired of her cooking fish and chips and saying “mate” and “jumpers” and “jolly”. And her teeth keeping getting worse and worse each day.
“I’m hoping that as time passes, she’ll flip back into her old mode if she wants to do that, and if she doesn’t, that’s fine too,” said Karl Scarabin.
Ryn Scarabin said she just wants to know the cause.
“Mostly I would like to know if there’s someone who maybe has a little more answer on what happened to me, because it’s still quite a question mark,” she said.
It’s been 10 months and Ryn says she’s just starting to get comfortable with her new accent, but she’s not sure she wants to go back to the y’alls and the twang.
There are about 100 known cases of foreign accent syndrome, mostly involving people who have had strokes.