Helen Farrell initially dismissed the pain as a migraine but when she woke up unable to move doctors revealed she had torn an artery in her neck by stretching
A woman woke up to discover she couldn’t walk or talk after stretching her neck tore an artery and caused a stroke.
Helen Farrell, 32, was moving her head side to side when she experienced a sharp pain in the back of her head, but initially dismissed it as a migraine.
When she woke up the next day from a nap, she was terrified to discover she was unable to move or speak properly and was rushed to A&E, Manchester Evening News reports.
The professional singer, who has been forced to cancel all of her gigs until February, was left stunned when doctors told her she had suffered a stroke caused by stretching her neck.
Helen from Blackpool told the MEN: “As soon as I woke up, this pain in my ear started – it was this loud, tingling, wooshing sound, like tinnitus. I tried to get up but I couldn’t walk or talk and I was being violently sick.
“The doctors have now said that I had had a stroke which was from me tearing the main artery going into my brain when I stretched my neck.”
Helen had previously visited chiropractors over the years and was shown exercises and stretches to help ease stiffness in her neck.
She had been on her living room floor moving her head from side to side when she felt sudden pain at the base of her neck.
Taking painkillers she dismissed it as a migraine but was concerned when the pain still hadn’t gone later that day.
With a singing gig scheduled in the afternoon she laid down for a nap in a last ditch attempt to shift the headache, but when fiancé, Andy Eastwood, 42, woke her an hour later she couldn’t control her body.
Helen said: “He woke me up and I was unable to talk – I was just slurring and couldn’t get what I wanted to say out.
“I tried to move and I couldn’t move my legs. Every time I moved, I was swerving – they’ve since told me I was experiencing vertigo – and I was getting this really harsh pain in my ear like a rattling sound.
“I could move my left arm fine but the right one was uncontrollably swaying everywhere, and I was being violently sick for about three hours.”
Musician Andy rushed Helen to A&E where tests revealed that she had suffered a stroke after tearing the main artery in her neck during her stretches.
Doctors wrote in her medical notes that the tear, known as a bilateral vertebral artery dissection, had occurred following a ‘neck massage and stretching exercises’, triggering a stroke.
Helen was relieved when her ability to talk returned but to her horror, she quickly discovered that the stroke had robbed her of her singing voice.
In a normal week, she makes around £600 through singing gigs, and with all her jobs cancelled up until next month, she’s looking at a loss of around £7,000.
Helen ordinarily makes around £600 a week through singing gigs, and with all her jobs cancelled up until February 2022, she’s looking at a loss of around £7,000.
She said: “Now I’m back home and I want to get back to normal, the severity of it has hit. Singing is my way of living but I’m having to cancel all my jobs and that’s after a year of no singing work because of lockdowns.
“It’s like I’ve never had a singing lesson in my life, it just sounds so weak and uncontrolled, it’s all gone.
“My partner is a multi-instrumentalist so he’s been playing music for me every day and I try to sing along and I can see a little improvement but if I do just one song, I’m tired – it takes it out of me.
“I’m worried about when, or if, I’ll get back to work. The doctors didn’t speak much about my singing voice, they were more bothered about my speech and my walking.
“I’m trying my best to stay positive. I’m still so grateful that I can walk and talk now because I couldn’t even do that when the stroke first happened, but obviously, I do feel worried and sad that I can’t sing.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.