GUTHRIE, Okla. — A 28-year-old man who is a young father suffered a major stroke.
Josh Hader of Guthrie tore an artery in his neck leading to his brain. The cause of the stroke? He popped his neck.
“The moment I heard the pop, everything on my left side started to go numb,” Hader said. “I got up and tried to get an ice pack from the fridge, and I remember I couldn’t walk straight.”
His father-in-law rushed him to the emergency room.
“I had about six or seven nurses and doctors surrounding me,” Hader said.
“He could have formed more clot on that tear and had a life-ending stroke. He could have died,” said Dr. Vance McCollom at Mercy Hospital.
McCollom showed us Hader’s X-rays. Hader tore his vertebral artery, a crucial vessel leading to the brain.
“If you have a stroke in that area, you can end up with a patient who’s locked in,” McCollom said. “They completely understand what’s going on, but they can’t communicate. They can’t move anything. They can’t speak. They can’t breathe.”
Thankfully, Hader’s stroke wasn’t that significant. But it did cause a lot of damage.
“One of the muscles that goes to his eye is weak. Because the nerve was injured,” McCollom said.
Hader had to wear an eyepatch for several days.
“Double vision. Blurry vision,” Hader said.
Doctors decided Hader’s condition was best treated with medicine and physical therapy.
“For the first few days, I couldn’t walk without a walker,” Hader said.
Even though the walker is now put away, he still has a lot of trouble.
“It is difficult to walk with my left leg,” Hader said.
Also, Hader said he has a very strange side effect: He had hiccups for a week and a half straight, painful hiccups that, he said, nearly caused a panic attack. But Hader told KOCO 5 the most difficult part has been emotional — not being able to help his wife with their two young children.
“I can’t pick him up out of the crib, give him milk in the middle of the night. I can’t do any of that,” Hader said.
KOCO 5 asked the doctor if there’s any safe way to pop your neck.
“If you want to pop your neck, just kind of pop it side to side. Don’t twist it,” McCollom said. “Whenever you twist it there’s a risk of tearing that vessel. Say my hand is his head, I suspect he just turned it real sharp and up, sharp and up and back. That’s what really pinched it.”
Before Hader went into his procedure, he wanted to tell his wife one thing.
“He wanted to tell his wife he was sorry that he had popped his neck,” McCollom said. “His wife had been telling him, ‘Don’t pop your neck. You’re going to cause a stroke.’”
May is Stroke Awareness Month. Hader and his doctors want to remind you of the FAST symptoms of stroke.
- F is for face — Are you seeing any drooping?
- A is for arms– Do notice a drift or weakness to one arm when holding both in front of you?
- S is for speech — Is your speech slurred?
- T is for time — As your life hangs in the balance.