Paramedic, 23, left partially paralyzed after cracking her neck

Natalie Kunicki: 'I wasn't even trying to crack my neck'

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A 23-year-old woman suffered a stroke after cracking her neck and accidentally rupturing a major artery, several news outlets reported this week.

Natalie Kunicki had been out that night, and at first, she misinterpreted her strange symptoms and thought she was just drunk, according to the Daily Mail.

Kunicki, who works as a paramedic in London, was watching a movie in bed with a friend when she stretched her neck and heard the loud cracking sound. When Kunicki got up about 15 minutes later, she collapsed and was unable to move her left leg.

Kunicki got over her initial embarrassment, she told the Daily Mail, and called for help. Considering her job as a paramedic, she said she realized at some point that this was serious.

She only hesitated to call for help because she didn’t want her co-workers to show up in an ambulance and find her “tipsy,” Kunicki said.

At the hospital, she learned that her vertebral artery had burst, which caused a blood clot to form in her brain and triggered the stroke, the Daily Mail reported.

Kunicki was shocked.

Nat's story is going viral and donors from around the world are supporting her recovery.

Posted by GoFundMe on Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Slowly but surely, she’s now starting to gain back her mobility. But doctors aren’t sure if she’ll ever fully recover, according to published reports.

“I thought I had been drugged,” she said. “The date rape drug can cause paralysis. … I wasn't even trying to crack my neck. I just moved and it happened.”

Kunicki required three-hour emergency surgery once she was taken in to the hospital. That’s when doctors found her burst artery.

Surgeons were able to repair it with a stent, but they couldn’t clear the clot in her brain, the Daily Mail reported. Doctors do believe it will dissolve in time. 

Kunicki’s left side was almost completely paralyzed by the stroke. 

“(This) was just spontaneous and there's a one in a million chance of it happening,” Kunicki said. “I don't smoke, I don't really drink and 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.”

She said she was depressed following the surgery due to losing so much of her independence but has been in better spirits lately.

Kunicki hopes to be back to work for “light duty” in six to 12 months.

She said she wants to raise awareness of strokes in young people.

Kunicki’s brother set up a GoFundMe page to help his sister pay for living expenses while she’s off work. It’s already met its goal.

About the Author:

Michelle is the Managing Editor of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which writes for all of the company's news websites.