A 23-year-old paramedic, who works for an ambulance service, shared how she suffered a stroke after she stretched her neck.
Natalie Kunicki also mistook her symptoms as being drunk and was too shy to call emergency services.
She was watching movies in bed with her friend after a night out when she stretched her neck. Natalie heard a loud crack but didn’t think too much of it.
After 15 minutes, she got up for the bathroom and collapsed to the floor as she couldn’t move her left leg.
The paramedic was rushed to hospital where she was told that a major artery in her neck had burst, causing a blood clot to form in her brain.
Natalie was so stunned that she was emotionless for many days. She is now rebuilding her life and slowly getting her mobility back. However, doctors are not completely sure when and if she will recover fully.
“People need to know that even if you’re young something this simple can cause a stroke,” she said.
“I wasn’t even trying to crack my neck. I just moved and it happened. I stretched my neck and I could just hear this “crack, crack, crack”.
“My friend asked “was that your neck?” but all my joints crack quite a bit so I didn’t think anything of it. I just laughed.
“I got up and tried to walk to the bathroom and I was swaying everywhere. I looked down and realized I wasn’t moving my left leg at all then I fell to the floor.
“My friend had to come and pick me up. He thought I was drunk but I knew something else was wrong. I thought I had been drugged. The date rape drug can cause paralysis.”
She added: “I’m a paramedic and I didn’t ring 999 for ten minutes because I thought it was too unlikely it would be a stroke when I should have known much better.”
Natalie put aside her embarrassment and called 999 as she realized there was something wrong with her. Her coordination had deteriorated and her blood pressure and heart rate were ‘sky high.’
“I was trying to call 999 but I was dithering about it,” she said. “’I think they did look at me at first like they thought I was just a classic drunk 23-year-old but I told them I was a paramedic and I knew something was wrong.”
Surgeons managed to repair her artery with a stent but the clot in her brain couldn’t be cleared. They believe it will eventually dissolve.
Natalie has recovered some sensation and movement and she’s feeling much better. Daily exercises have helped her regain movement in her arm, hand, and leg.
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