(WHIMN) — Cracking our joints may be a bad habit, but it doesn’t stop the majority of us from doing it anyway. However, for 23-year-old Australian woman Natalie Kunicki, a seemingly harmless crack almost cost her her life.
Hanging out with a friend in her London apartment, Kunicki was in bed watching a movie after a night out. She stretched her neck and heard a loud “crack,” but thought nothing of it and went to sleep. But when she woke up 15 minutes later, she realized she couldn’t move her left leg.
Getting out of bed to go to the bathroom, she collapsed onto 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,” she told The Sun.
As a paramedic, Kunicki was embarrassed to call an ambulance because they’d find her “tipsy.” Given she was young and healthy, she doubted what was happening could be a stroke.
However, when first responders did arrive, they discovered that her neck crack had burst her vertebral artery — a major artery in the neck. The rupture caused a blood clot to form in her brain and triggered a stroke.
Kunicki’s left side was almost entirely paralyzed.
Surgeons were able to repair Kunicki’s artery with a stent, however, they were unable to clear the clot in her brain. They do believe that the clot will dissolve over time.
She was in the hospital for almost a month trying to regain movement in her leg, arm and hand.
“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,” Kunicki told The Sun.
While doctors can’t provide an exact time Kunicki will be fully recovered, she is hoping she will be able to do “light duties” in six to 12 months’ time.
Kunicki moved from Canberra to London to join the London Ambulance Service in December 2017.
Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to assist with her medical bills.
While Kunicki is looking forward to returning to the job she loves, she still can’t believe what one little caused.
“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,” she told The Sun.
“It was just spontaneous and there’s a one in a million chance of it happening.”