Helen Farrell, a 32-year-old English woman, woke up one day to find she couldn’t move, walk, or even talk. 

The Manchester resident and professional singer was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors informed her she had suffered a stroke the day before, according to foreign reports.

The cause? She stretched her neck in just the wrong way, severing a vital artery that supplies the brain with blood, and therefore, oxygen. 

Helen Farrell woke up from a nap to find she couldn't move. Doctors soon determined that she'd suffered a stroke after tearing an artery in the neck while stretching.
Helen Farrell woke up from a nap to find she couldn’t move. Doctors soon determined that she’d suffered a stroke after tearing an artery in the neck while stretching. Photo credit: Twitter

Helen Farrell Stretches, Suffers Stroke 

Farrell told the Manchester Evening News that she was laying on her living room floor, moving her head from side to side — a tension-relieving technique she had learned from a chiropractor — when she suddenly felt a sharp pain in the back of her skull. 

Shrugging off the discomfort as an oncoming migraine, the club singer popped a few over-the-counter painkillers and went about her day. But the pain continued to linger, she said, and with a gig booked for that night, she laid down for a nap, hoping to feel better by the time she woke up. 

About an hour later, her fiance Andy Eastwood, 42, went to get her out of bed. But to her horror, Farrell found she couldn’t move or speak clearly. 

“He woke me up and I was unable to talk — I was just slurring and couldn’t get what I wanted to say out,” she told reporters

Her body simply wasn’t responding to the commands her brain was issuing, she recalled. 

When singer Helen Farrell woke up and couldn't move, she was rushed to the hospital where doctors told her she'd suffered a stroke.
When singer Helen Farrell woke up and couldn’t move, she was rushed to the hospital where doctors told her she’d suffered a stroke. Photo credit: Helen Farrell via YouTube

“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.”

Farrell continued: “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.”

She didn’t make her gig that night. Instead, her fiance rushed her to the emergency room at their local hospital, where doctors determined the 32-year-old had suffered a stroke. Specifically, she had dissected the bilateral vertebral artery in the back of her head while she was stretching her neck. 

Thankfully, Farrell soon recovered her ability to speak. But to her horror, she found that she could no longer sing. 

Stroke Victim Robbed of Singing Voice

She didn’t notice immediately, during the initial horror of the diagnosis, but Farrell eventually found that her singing voice had lost its practiced polish in the aftermath of her stroke. 

“It’s like I’ve never had a singing lesson in my life,” she told her local newspaper. “It just sounds so weak and uncontrolled, it’s all gone.”

Farrell made her living singing at local venues every week. Ordinarily, she said she pulled in about £600 weekly, but as she’s no longer in any condition to perform, she’s been forced to cancel all her gigs through February — robbing her of £7,000 of income. 

“Now I’m back home and I want to get back to normal, the severity of it has hit,” she said. “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.”

Helen Farrell is working with her fiance Andy Eastwood to get her singing voice back. She woke up and couldn't move, later learning she'd suffered a stroke.
Helen Farrell is working with her fiance Andy Eastwood to get her singing voice back. She woke up and couldn’t move, later learning she’d suffered a stroke. Photo credit: Twitter

She’s been practicing with her fiance Andy and hopes to refind her musical footing, but it’s not as easy as it used to be, she said. 

“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,” Farrell told reporters

It could be a lot worse, she admitted, but that’s cold comfort for a singer who’s lost her voice. 

“I’m trying my best to stay positive,” Farrell said

“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.”