Fri | Mar 31, 2023

Accident leaves J’can woman left-handed with British accent - Deana-Rae remains upbeat despite injuries from life-changing ordeal

Published:Sunday | August 23, 2020 | 12:00 AMAshley Anguin - Sunday Gleaner Writer
The ill-fated car in which Deana-Rae Clayton was travelling. The accident also claimed the life of a friend and left two others nursing serious injuries. Inset: Clayton has lost sight in one eye due to injuries sustained in the accident.
Deana-Rae Clayton awoke from a coma last year with foreign accent syndrome.
Deana-Rae Clayton has lost sight in one eye due to injuries sustained in the accident.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

One year ago, 33-year-old Deana-Rae Clayton was an all-Jamaican woman with a rich island accent. However, after partying with friends in Negril, a horrible car crash would send her world into a tailspin, claiming the life of a friend and leaving two others nursing serious injuries. The fun-loving vlogger would also awake from a coma to a new life.

When Clayton first awoke from a coma two days after the accident, she found herself speaking with an American accent, which gradually changed to a British accent months later. Doctors described the phenomenon as foreign accent syndrome – a speech disorder that has caused a sudden change to her native tongue.

The accident also left Clayton physically challenged and blinded in her right eye. She also suffers from memory loss.

“In the accident, my head trauma caused a stroke and that gave me brain damage,” explained Clayton, whose upbeat spirit and zest for life has not been devalued by her traumatic experience as she steadily tries to piece her life together again.

“The swelling that the brain damage caused is between my language and motor skills, so my accent has changed and I am now left-handed instead of right-handed. I am unable to speak the Jamaican accent now,” she told The Sunday Gleaner, adding that her life will never be the same again.

“I am still learning to walk. I cannot walk without any aid. Even turning on the bed is a struggle for me,” Clayton said. “I spent one month in the hospital and I’ve done four surgeries. My entire life has changed because I can no longer work a 9 to 5.”

She said doctors initially projected a two-year journey to recovery, but that timeline has been thrown off.

“They said it would take one to two years in terms of recovery to a point that I will be able to walk like nothing happen. However, because of COVID-19 and the delay in my left femur healing, that’s now looking like three to four years,” she revealed.

Mom to the Rescue

In the earliest stage of her recovery, Clayton was almost entirely dependent on her mother to care for her.

“Deana-Rae’s accident has caused me to do everything for her. I have to bathe her, clothe her, and help her to use the bathroom. The only thing that I don’t help her with is to feed her,” her mother, Beverley Clayton, told The Sunday Gleaner.

“It has been extremely difficult financially taking care of Deana-Rae. Being retired, I have to depend on my husband and my son for support,” she added.

Within six to eight months, Clayton had recovered to the point where she could bathe and dress herself and move around with assistance.

She remains optimistic that by the end of the year, she will be able to walk without aid.

As her body continues to heal, she regularly reflects on how her life had changed in the blink of an eye.

“I was partying with my friends in Negril and in a split second, everything changed. I couldn’t understand and I woke up and this was just a new life. Going through excruciating pain, being so young, unable to walk and not having a family of my own, ... and ‘who is going to love me now?’ were questions I asked myself,” Clayton said.

She has created YouTube page not just to occupy her time, but also to tell her story.

“Based from what I gathered, I am the only person in Jamaica with the foreign accent syndrome,” she said. “The brain damage is getting worse as far as I can see. I am not always able to understand Patois any more. I have long-term effects and I have a whole new life that I have to get used to.”

Although she has been going through a rough time, Clayton believes that persons going through similar struggles should not give up.

“If at any point you have your own trauma and you feel like ‘Why me?’ and ‘God is punishing me’, He is not,” she said. “He is building you up for something better … . The reason may be unclear, but eventually, you will see why it is it that you went through the trauma in order to be better at whatever results you get.”

editorial@gleanerjm.com