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A mother who broke her neck when she sneezed has suffered the exact same injury again — after laughing at a colleague’s joke.
As she sneezed five years ago, mum Monique Jeffrey’s C1 and C2 vertebrae collapsed and her chin fell onto her shoulder, leaving her hunched over in agonising pain.
With her husband at work and her newborn baby asleep in the next room, the 33-year-old hotel manager soon realised she couldn’t move her neck, and began to panic.
“I texted Sam just saying ‘help!’ and he called me and I answered on speaker phone, because I couldn’t put the phone to my ear,” Monique told news.com.au.
“He came home and called an ambulance.
“It was pretty scary and it was such a strange sensation.
“I was in so much pain after just one little sneeze,” Monique said.
She was placed in a neck traction — a manual device that immobilises the neck muscles and allows them to heal — for 14 weeks and made a full recovery.
But just three weeks ago, she injured her neck again.
“I was at work and I had a bit of a stiff neck. Nothing awful, it was just a little bit sore,” she said.
“I was actually joking around with some colleagues because they were making some inappropriate jokes about how I may have hurt my neck, and I threw my head back and did it again.
“It wasn’t as bad as the last time. I shuffled back to my desk and I said to one of my colleagues ‘I’m in trouble here, ‘I think I’ve done my neck again’, because it felt the same and I was stuck.
“My chin was pulled across to the right, so they called an ambulance and now I’m in a neck halo.”
The metal device screws into the skull and stops the wearer moving their head.
“I’ve had two kids and getting the halo is worse than childbirth,” said Monique, who has to wear the device for six weeks.
“I can lie down but I sleep sitting up in a special bed. The halo completely supports my head and my neck.
“All the muscles in my neck are wasting away but I don’t have to hold my head up because it’s being held up by the bars and screws. You kind of just get used to it.
“But I’m tired all the time. I’m usually a very energetic person, but walking up a flight of stairs just completely wears me out and I have to have a big rest after that.”
After the halo is removed Monique will undergo months of rehab and physiotherapy to strengthen the muscles in her neck.
If that isn’t successful, she may require surgery to “fuse” the C1 and C2 vertebrae together so they can no longer collapse.
Her sister set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the mounting medical bills and so far £4,600 has been raised.
“The favourable option is intensive rehab to build the muscle and those muscles will work to try and keep my neck in place. But because this has already happened twice, the likelihood of it happening again is really high,” Monique said.
“We’re going to try physio and rehab first and we’re hoping that that does the trick for a couple of years.
“It’s not terminal, I’m going to be fine, but it does suck a bit.
“You just have to laugh about it.”
2017.06.03 / 17:18