It’s time you stop cracking your joints. An Australian paramedic is warning people after her “Cracking the neck” habit triggered a stroke at just 23.
Natalie Kunicki, a paramedic at London Ambulance Service, was watching a movie after a night out with her friend. She stretched her neck as usual and heard “loud crack sound.”
She then went to sleep, but after 15 minutes, she woke up unable to move her left leg.
And when she tried getting up to walk to the toilet, she collapsed to the floor.
A few hours to dawn, Natalie called an ambulance, and she was rushed to University College London Hospital. After a CT scan, the doctors confirmed she had suffered a stroke.
The medics said when Natalie cracked her neck, the vertebral artery, which is the major artery in the spine, raptured. This caused blood clotting in her brain, triggering a stroke.
Has left side was almost paralyzed completely, she spent several weeks in hospital as she tried to regain her movements in the arm, leg, and hand.
Natalie said to the media that the diagnosis was a shock to her. She even became “emotionless” for several days.
“When the consultant told me I’d had a stroke I was in shock.”
“The doctors told me later that just that stretching of my neck had caused my vertebral artery to rupture.”
“It was just spontaneous and there’s a one in a million chance of it happening.”
“I don’t smoke, I don’t really drink, I don’t have any family history of strokes so it’s quite strange it happened to me when I was just moving in bed.”
Doing exercises every day helped Natalie regain movement in her arms, hand, and the left leg. She was later discharged.
Natalie is now warning everyone of the risky “bad habit” of cracking joints, especially the neck. It can trigger stroke effect regardless of your age.
“People need to know that even if you’re young, something this simple can cause a stroke. I wasn’t even trying to crack my neck. I just moved and it happened.”
“I’m a paramedic and I didn’t ring emergency services for 10 minutes because I thought it was too unlikely it would be a stroke when I should have known much better.”
“Every minute, more of your brain cells are dying, so don’t ever discount a stroke just because someone is young.”
Natalie, who has been working with London Ambulance Service since 2017 said:
“I was in bed watching stuff with a friend when 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 fell asleep and when I woke up about 15 minutes later. I wanted to go to the bathroom but I could feel this leg in the bed and I was asking my friend if he could move his leg.”
“He told me it was my leg but I was a bit tipsy so I wasn’t taking anything seriously and just thought ‘that’s a bit weird.”
“I got up and tried to walk to the bathroom and I was swaying everywhere. I looked down and realised 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.”
Natalie also admits she was undecided to call an emergency service. She said that she didn’t want an ambulance crew, she knew, to show up and find her “tipsy.”
So, she decided to go back to bed. But after struggling for a while, she called out for help.
“I was dithering about it. There was a high chance the crew who turned up would be my friends and I didn’t want them to see me tipsy.”
“They took my blood pressure and heart rate and they were both sky high. Then they did this test where they hold their finger in the air and you have to touch your nose then their finger.”
“My hand went all over the place and I was thinking ‘oh no’. I knew something was going down.”
Doctors can’t give the exact period for full stroke recovery. But Natalie is hoping to resume her work within six to 12 months.
“I’ve recovered movement in my left side. I can walk but not for more than five minutes.”
“I’m really clumsy. I can’t do up buttons, I find it too difficult. I can feel hot and cold now but I still feel a bit numb.”
“The doctors just say things like ‘we’re hoping for a full recovery’ and won’t give an exact time because they don’t want to get my hopes up.”
“But I’m determined to get back to work as soon as I can. I just love it.”
“I just love my job and I want to get back to it. I’m so used to being busy and now I feel like I’m climbing the walls a bit. I definitely want to get back to work as soon as I can.”