Neil Thompson is lucky to be alive after getting a blood clot on the spine. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Neil Thompson is lucky to be alive after getting a blood clot on the spine. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily John McCutcheon

How this healthy, active man was paralysed within minutes

WITHIN minutes, Neil Thompson went from working in his Palmwoods' garden to paralysis of his limbs which was creeping up the rest of his body.

The healthy, active, 55-year-old didn't know he had a time bomb ticking in his blood stream.

And as he lay there, unable to move and waiting for help, he thought "this is how I am going to die".

It was a blood clot in his spine that should have left him permanently paralysed.

Four weeks after the incident and a still recovering Mr Thompson wanted to praise the hospital and emergency service which saved his life.

His harrowing experience is also a timely reminder to make the most of every minute.

"I was fixing irrigation pumps on the acreage and I had to join two pipes so I put a lot of pressure on it," Mr Thompson said.

"Suddenly, my head exploded. I went to my wife (Ros) and said I had hurt myself and sat on my bed.

"With five minutes I started to get paralysed (in my limbs).

"I rang my wife, she asked why I was ringing her as I was in the house and I told her to 'come here'.

"I couldn't move my left arm."

Mrs Thompson rang 000 and paramedics were at the home in 10 minutes and began working on Mr Thompson.

By this time, he was also paralysed down most of his right side.

He was taken to Nambour hospital where it was initially assumed he had had a stroke.

"They found I wasn't bleeding in the brain, I was bleeding in the spine, which is pretty unusual.

"They rang the Royal Brisbane and spoke to the spinal surgeon and then I was carted off in helicopter for Brisbane.

"I woke up in ICU. They told my wife I would be disabled because of the spinal damage.

"But when I woke up the first thing I was trying to do was rip off the stuff they had put down my throat. At least they new my arms were working."

He managed to make an astounding recovery with his medical friends saying he had "dodged a bullet".

"The blood clot was between by C3 and C4 vertebrae in the spine which is the cervical vertebrae where all movement and breathing is controlled from," he said.

Mr Thomspon is still undergoing tests to try and determine what caused the blood clot.

"Many people have a stroke because of the embolism and a weaker vein in the wrong place.

"This may be the case. I know I applied a lot of pressure (doing the pipes) and I thought I had just overstretched it."

Mr Thompson had nothing but praise for the public hospital service.

"Everything fell into place. The people around showed 100% care and concern.

"People might criticise it, but in the end, when you need them, they are there.

"What they did so well was get me to the best people to get the best treatment."

Mr Thompson said the experience made him realise how "fragile you are".

"One minute I had a strong arm and the next it was completely non-responsive."

While he has private health insurance, this was never a question when he received public help.

"It wasn't even asked about my insurance and I wouldn't have had better service (if it was private).

"This is what is so extraordinary. The service works.

"From the ambulance, to the helicopters to the MRIs and all the rest."

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