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Dad who severed artery in his neck after turning head ‘too quickly’ is lucky to be alive

Ali Condon

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Dad who severed artery in his neck after turning head ‘too quickly’ is lucky to be alive

A dad who severed an artery simply by turning his head too fast was told he is 'lucky to be alive' after the injury gave him three strokes.

Joel Hentrich, 35, didn't know what was going on at first when he felt a popping sensation at the back of his neck during a game of pickleball with some mates.

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Not long after feeling the odd sensation, the super-healthy dad suffered from blurred vision and vertigo, eventually feeling a tingling in his face, hand and leg, and suffering with projectile vomiting.

After being rushed to hospital in a panic, doctors discovered that Joel had managed to severe his left vertebral artery, simply by turning his head too quickly.

The injury triggered three separate strokes in his lower cerebellum - the part of your brain that's responsible for muscle control.

As someone who had been playing pickleball multiple times a week for the past few years, the news was pretty unnerving for the dad-of-four. Pickleball is a racket sport where two or four players hit a ball over a 36-inch net.

"Turning my head really quickly was something that I've done a million times," said Joel.

"It hit me like a tonne of bricks - you don't think that these things will actually happen to you.

Joel suffered three strokes after the accident. Credit: Kennedy News & Media
Joel suffered three strokes after the accident. Credit: Kennedy News & Media

"I was in complete shock and disbelief. But eventually how significant and serious this accident was for me started sinking in.

"I'm extremely lucky that I got treatment in the time that I did because I don't have any lasting physical deficits."

Joel shared that, in the week leading up to the injury, he had been suffering from a minor twinge in his neck, but assumed that he had just slept awkwardly on it and that it would go away.

"I went out there that day and was just playing a regular game, nothing strenuous. I was just having fun and just turned my head quickly to the left to try and track a ball," he recalled.

"I felt a pop in the back of my neck. I wasn't sure if anyone else could hear it but internally I could.

"Immediately my vision changed and I had the worst vertigo I've ever experienced in my life. About two minutes after it happened I was having to be helped over to the bench with support because I couldn't stand on my own at all.

"My world was spinning, literally and figuratively but I trusted my instincts as all the different signs together pointed to something pretty serious."

The dad had been playing pickleball for years. Credit: Kennedy News & Media
The dad had been playing pickleball for years. Credit: Kennedy News & Media

For a while, there were fears that Joel might not be able to walk again as a result of the freak injury, but thankfully within a few days, he was back up and running again.

"It was a special moment to be able to get up and realise that I could still walk, balance and live my life how I did before this."

Joel is now trying to raise awareness of the symptoms of strokes and the importance of seeking medical care as soon as possible.

He has also set up a fundraiser to help provide him and his family with financial support during his recovery, which you can find here.

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Topics: Health, Weird

Ali Condon
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