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"This was quite violent" - Michael Lynagh on the night he suffered a stroke


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Back in 1991, Australia legend Michael Lynagh was vice-captain as the Wallabies won their first Rugby World Cup. 

The Brisbane native, who won 72 caps for his country, was in Dublin last week and took time out to chat to Joe Molloy in depth about his career on and off the pitch. 

In 2012, 14 years after retiring from the game and in seemingly excellent health at the time, Lynagh suffered a serious stroke and he discussed that terrifying moment with Joe.  

"I was at dinner that night in Brisbane. At 6.30pm, I met with six or seven friends from school," he recalled.

"Somebody was telling a joke and I took a sip of beer and as the punch line came out, I started to laugh and it went down the wrong way like all of us have done.

"But this was quite violent, just coughing and spluttering and then I couldn't see. And I just thought it was a lack of oxygen, so I was trying to get myself right. Then simultaneously was a huge pain in the back right of my head."

A schoolfriend, who happened to be a physio was sitting beside him and called an ambulance.

"I wasn't OK but I knew what was going on. I couldn't see and the pain in my head was quite substantial," he continued, although the thought that it could be a stroke did not cross his mind at the time.

"I had X-rays and then scans and that's when the doctor first mentioned the word 'stroke.'" 

They operated immediately due to the swelling in his brain, with Lynagh adding that "it could have been potentially close to being fatal". 

He also explained that he later listened to doctors discussing his condition as he lay in his room and he repeated what one of the physicians told him in regards to the risk of operating, "'A, you should be dead and secondly if you're not - which you aren't -, you shouldn't have any feeling in the whole of your left side of your body and you shouldn't be able to move. You have. And you can talk.'"


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