Louise ... Paris invite

I've got a frog in my throat

December 12, 2006

CONFUSED Louise Clarke convinced herself she was FRENCH after she developed one of the world’s rarest disorders.

The 30-year-old recruitment consultant babbled away in the language for weeks.

She demanded croissants, rang her pals to tell them she was living in Paris and even invited them over.

Louise said yesterday: “It might sound funny to others, but suddenly thinking you are French is terrifying.”

Louise, from Bath, had been in France four years before becoming one of only four people in Britain, and 200 in the world, to be diagnosed with Susac’s syndrome.

The brain disorder, which can be brought on by stress, is thought to affect blood vessels leading to the brain, ears and eyes — and can scramble memories from years earlier.

Louise is now controlling it with steroids and other medication and has been told it can last up to five years.

She said: “It started with migraines and hallucinations. I eventually got so confused that my sister took me to A&E. I was gabbling away in French at my hospital bed.

“It was a really tough time for my family. At one point my sister discovered I had phoned all my friends and told them to come and visit me in Paris. She had to ring them all back to explain what had happened.”

Louise spent months at Bath’s Royal University Hospital before being diagnosed.

US expert Prof Michael Hahn, who helped define Susac’s syndrome, said: “I’ve studied around 40 cases and a fair percentage reported the confusion of believing they were in a foreign country or place they had once visited.”


Gaul blimey

POOR Louise Clarke had a splitting headache — and then suddenly started believing she was French

Not only did she babble in Franglais, but she thought she lived in Paris and demanded croissants from her local bread shop in Bath.

Apparently she is a rare victim of Susac’s syndrome.

Only four people in the UK have ever experienced this nightmare.

This is no joke. Going to bed British and waking up French . . . you wouldn’t wish that on your worst enemy, would you?