Speaking a Foreign Language While Migraining!

Last May, I started an auric migraine in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany on the way to Berlin, Germany while on vacation with a German friend. I usually catch these early because I see squiggly lines and holes in my vision. I missed that this time as I was not reading anything.

The next phase for me before the pain sets in is the inability to communicate what I am thinking. When that happened, I knew a migraine was coming on, so I took my triptan, hoping it was in time. It was not. By the time we landed, I was in a lot of pain and could not wait to get to the hotel and a dark room. My German friend was very concerned because she did not know my history of migraines. By the time we got to the hotel, I could not speak English (I am American). However, I could speak fluent German and could only communicate in German. This was freaky.

My friend asked the hotel to find a doctor, and they did. He was from Russia and could speak Russian and German, but not English, but that was OK because I could say anything I wanted to in German. (I studied German, but have never been fluent in it before.) The first thing he did was feel my back after which he diagnosed me with migraine without me telling him I was migraining. He started an IV from the bed post, and proceeded to perform acupuncture on my back, using larger needles so that he could put medicine directly into my back muscles. I questioned him, in German, extensively, thinking maybe he was not a licensed, medical doctor, but he assured me he was and showed license. I was having chills and diarrhea, but not nausea, and this was also new.

Whatever he did, however, worked and by the next morning, I was OK, just had that hung over feeling I normally have after a major migraine. When I got back to the US, I saw a neurologist right away. I asked him about the fluent German and he explained he had heard of cases where that happened with migraine, but had never met anyone to whom that had happened. He ordered an MRI of my brain to make sure nothing else was going on. I checked out OK. The neurologist said that most likely the swelling in the brain that accompanies migraine pressed upon my “language” center causing the German stored there to be activated. He assured me I would not have spoken a language I had not studied or been exposed to. The brain stores everything we hear, see, taste, smell and experience, but we rarely recall things so well as I obviously recalled all the German I have heard and learned. This was the most bizzare migraine I’ve ever had and wonder if there is anyone out there with a similar experience!!

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