When a large tractor rolls over you, it’s an understatement that your life will never be the same; Almonte resident Thad N. can tell you all about it. In spite of catastrophic injuries, Thad stands here today, eight months after his life-threatening accident with a message of optimism, “passing on hope.”
Statistically, Thad’s chances were nil. Six weeks after his accident, an AGH nurse told Thad he was the first patient she knew of to survive a tractor-roll in 35 years. She was thrilled to see his progress.
When asked about that day the accident occurred, Thad uses a tone of calm acceptance, “It happened in slow motion; I felt the wheel move up my body, I heard and felt every crunch, one snapping sound after the other.”
By stretching his neck, the wheel barely missed his chin. But the worst was to come. The pressure of the trauma created pressure which exploded behind his eyes, “As the wheel slowed its path, I understood, I am 34 years old and I am likely going to die if I don’t do something. I immediately got my breathing calm and started to assess my situation.”
Instinctively Thad knew that he needed to remain conscious. With his one mobile limb, he checked to see if his eyes were still attached. Even though they were, he still couldn’t see.
Next, he needed to extricate himself from the tractor but he struggled to breathe. He knew he had to move his body, somehow, some way. Painstakingly, Thad grabbed the grass, and gradually got himself free of the tractor.
“Remembering that it was 9 p.m. when I had taken my last load up to the trench, that gave me a sense of what time it was when the tractor belly-rolled over me; I realized I could hear the generator as I had set up a flood light. I knew its location, so this was my way out.”
With the sound of the generator guiding him, Thad crawled for his life. Faced with the formidable obstacles of blindness and an incline of thick brush, Thad’s moment of truth was still to come. Hearing the voice of his grandfather, a man who had survived war and a few nasty injuries too, Thad found the will to get to his next goal. Elbowing laboriously through the brush, with one strong exertion, he got his head just enough off the ground to see a faint beam from the floodlight in the corner of his eye.
He grabbed his chance. With his teeth he got his smartphone turned on. After many tries, Thad dialed the magic three numbers he knew were his lifeline – 911. With his last bit of energy, he said into the phone, “You need to listen because my tractor rolled on me…”
When the Lanark County Paramedics arrived, they performed a ground search at his address. Once transported to the AGH Emergency department, the medical team worked to stabilize him for the flight to Ottawa. The doctors at AGH could not completely advise the trauma centre in Ottawa of the exact extent of Thad’s injuries without the benefit of a CT scanner. A CT would have shown his punctured lung. Time was ticking, and Thad had already spent three hours fighting for his life in a cold field.
Sitting in a coffee shop recently, Thad’s outlook is of appreciation and purpose. Remembering the quality of care he received first in Almonte from the Lanark County Paramedics and Emergency staff, then the Transport Team and Emergency staff in Ottawa, and then back here at AGH throughout his recovery, Thad wants to pay forward all that good will. He says of paramedics and hospital staff, “they are the true heroes working silently for all of us.” So, when people ask about his story, he welcomes the opportunity to share that challenges can be overcome. He calls it, “passing on hope.”
Thad knows that the Almonte General Hospital Fairview Manor Foundation has been raising funds to replace all of its diagnostic imaging equipment and he sees sharing his story as a way of ‘putting himself in the picture’ to reinforce how important these diagnostic tools can be.
Thad’s voice of “passing on hope” comes at a great time. Because sometimes when you need a CT scan, you don’t want to have to wait. You want it to be available close to home.
Emergencies like Thad’s don’t happen every day but when they do, having the right tools are essential for the Hospital’s dedicated doctors and staff. Unexpected health challenges, as we all know, do happen every day and CT scan helps diagnose those too, without travelling out of the area. Thad believes its time Almonte had a CT scanner.
Please join Thad and donate to the Almonte General Hospital Foundation’s Put Yourself in the Picture campaign today.