June 22nd, 2010 08:08 PM
And...You Thought That You Were Having A Bad Day.
With Arm Stuck in Boiler, Man Contemplated Suicide
The Connecticut man who tried self-amputation after his arm got stuck in his boiler says he contemplated suicide during the two days he was trapped in his basement and attempted to say goodbye to his loved ones by writing a note in his own splattered blood.
In an interview broadcast today, Jonathan Metz, 31, described the terror and intense pain he felt, and said he considered using the blades he cut his arm with to end his life.
"About half way through this ordeal, you know, maybe that's the best way to get out of this terrible situation," Metz recalled thinking, during an interview broadcast today on NBC's "Today" show. "And that's really when some of the more important things in my life came to the forefront -- my family and friends.
"I guess I came to the conclusion that it would be selfish -- that I had a lot to live for," said Metz, who is engaged.
Metz, who lost his arm in the accident earlier this month, took "Today" viewers on a tour of his basement.
After returning home from his financial services job at The Travelers on June 7, Metz went into the basement of his West Hartford home to clean the soot in the boiler, a job he was doing before his parents came to visit and a task he said should have taken 10 minutes.
He reached into the boiler to retrieve a tool he had dropped, and his left arm got stuck between the shoulder and elbow. He tried to pull his arm out, but the funnel-like fins of the boiler tightened their grasp.
'If I could maintain a cool head from the get-go, it's possible I could have gotten my arm out, but my knee-jerk reaction was yank, yank, yank," he told NBC.
He said panic isn't an adequate word to describe what he was feeling when he realized he was stuck. He saw dripping blood and his arm start to swell.
"Terror, I think, maybe would be a better word because I could see what was happening," he said.
With his arm stuck, Metz said, he could neither sit down nor stand up, leaving him in a position that prevented him from being able to rest and think clearly. "If I had been able to sit down and think things through, it certainly would have made the thought process more coherent."
He started to scream, and kept at it for "a combined 48 hours," he recalled. But, he noted that he had winterized a small basement window with caulk, making it airtight and soundproof. His cries for help grew more desperate.
"My first pleas for help were, 'I'm stuck. Somebody come in and come down and help me,'" he said. "When it became clear the arm was dying, that's when the pleas turned to, 'I'm dying down here. Somebody please help me.'''
He was confident that somebody would realize he was missing and that help would arrive. But after 12 hours, he could smell his rotting flesh, infection was taking over, and he decided the arm was dead.
He wondered "What would MacGyver do?" and looked around his basement, where he likes to make furniture, to see what could help him. But the saws and a drill were all out of reach. "That's the thought process -- something down here has to be able to save me," he said.
Metz said he spent six hours psyching himself up to cut his arm with blades from his nearby power tools.
"It started with prayer and thinking about the people that I'd be leaving behind, thinking about my dog upstairs who had also at that point gone three days without water," he said. "I thought about my parents visiting the next week and how traumatic it would be for them to come into the house and find this scene."
He made a tourniquet from his shirt, and though his arm went numb, he felt great pain.
"I would say about 90 percent of the cut was surprisingly pain-free," he said. "The pain was in having to look at it and see it and see what I was doing to myself.
"It really wasn't until I got to kind of the underside of the arm where the nerves are really concentrated where the pain became so ... I can't even describe the pain."
He said he was in shock and realized that, given how much blood he had lost, he couldn't finish the job.
"I was so convinced that I was going to die that I began actually, in the blood splattered on the boiler, trying to write a note to my family and my fiancee," he said.
While Metz spoke in a matter-of-fact manner, he got emotional when he described being unable to free himself.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, he recalled, he used his shoe to drink some dirty boiler water, which he said gave him a mental boost. Then he got back to work.
"After lapping some of that up I grabbed the blade and resumed cutting and got through the bone and got through most of the flesh and that's when I ran into a little bit of a problem, which was the bundle of nerves running under the underside of my arm.
"I tried cutting a little bit more, hit another nerve and again lightning bolt-like pain and that's when I just said, 'I can't do it. I can't finish this cut,'" Metz said, sounding close to tears.
Alone for the next 18 hours, he considered suicide. But by June 9, his friend went looking for him, and called authorities when Metz didn't answer the door. Crews freed him with heavy equipment and the amputation was completed.
"Before I knew it, we were zooming down the interstate on the way to the hospital," Metz said, and he looked up to see an EMT.
"I remember him looking down at me and saying 'Jon, it's going to be OK. We're bringing you to the hospital,'" he recalled. "I will never forget that. He was like an angel kind of looking down at me. It was really awesome."
Doctors said Metz's decision saved his life.
In the "Today" show interview, Metz went down to the basement, where the boiler had been replaced.
"There was a sense of relief," Metz said of the first time he went back there "seeing the boiler that had cost me my arm was totally, completely gone."
Doctors hope to fit Metz with a prosthetic arm by the end of the month. For now, he says he's learned a lot about himself.
"I don't know that I'd ever really admit it or believe it, but I did learn that I have more strength than I guess I would have thought."
June 22nd, 2010 08:20 PM
What a story! It's amazing what you can and will do when left no other options.
You can educate ignorance, you can't fix stupid
Retired DE Trooper, SA XD40 SC, S&W 2" Airweight
dukalmighty & Pure Kustom Black Ops Pro "Trooper" Holsters, DE CCDW and LEOSA Permits, Vietnam Vet 68-69 Pleiku
June 22nd, 2010 08:24 PM
Wow. Just, wow. One reason I like to keep a cellphone VERY handy and charged with me at ALL TIMES. Amazing will to live
"To blame a gun for a mans decision is to foolishly attribute free will to an inanimate object"- Colion Noir.
June 22nd, 2010 08:33 PM
"My kingdom for a cell phone."
Originally Posted by Ghettokracker71
June 22nd, 2010 08:34 PM
Wow.... similar story of a hiker a few years back that got his arm stuck between two bolders. He completed the job with a pocket knife.
I've never tried it but, I bet it's pretty damn tough to saw your arm off.
June 22nd, 2010 08:35 PM
Wow... +1 on the cell phone there ghettokracker71... and keep your weapon with you at all times... a few shots through the roof of your house is sure to get someone's attention. Poor guy.
AT3 (O-Level) United States Navy - NRA Life Member
"Molan labe! Just try... I'll show you the strength of my conviction... and I'll sleep well that night..."
June 22nd, 2010 08:49 PM
I always have my cell phone on me and it gets charged every night. I can't always carry my firearm but I can always carry my cell.
Originally Posted by Ghettokracker71
It is mind boggling what humans can do when faced with adversity.
June 22nd, 2010 10:02 PM
June 22nd, 2010 10:14 PM
Some actual self-amputations
Man amputates leg to get free of fallen tree - Life- msnbc.com
News: Aron Ralston Amputate his own Arm
Man amputates own leg to get free of fallen tree
66-year-old trapped for 11 hours uses pocketknives to cut limb below knee
IOWA HILL, Calif. - Alone in the woods with his left leg pinned beneath a fallen tree for 11 hours, a 66-year-old man used pocketknives to cut off his limb below the knee to free himself, a neighbor and authorities said.
Al Hill had been cutting trees last Friday when one fell on him. After freeing himself, he cried out for help, and a neighbor passing through this sparsely populated area heard him.
Eric Bookey then hiked nearly two miles to get a cellular signal and placed an emergency call to the town's all-volunteer fire department about 7:30 p.m., Fire Chief Luana Dowling told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Hill was eventually airlifted by helicopter to a hospital where he underwent amputation surgery, Dowling said. "He's a pretty remarkable person," Dowling said.
Hiker Aron Ralston Cuts Off Own Arm to Survive
May 2, 2003
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - With no water and as little hope of survival, Aspen mountaineer Aron Ralston, 27, used a pocketknife to amputate his own arm and free himself from a boulder weighing 800-1,000 pounds that fell and trapped him for five days in a remote desert canyon in eastern Utah.
Pinned in a 3-foot wide slot canyon near the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park south of Moab, Utah, Ralston cut through his own arm below the elbow Thursday morning, applying a tourniquet and administering first aid before rigging anchors and fixing a rope to rappel to the bottom of Blue John Canyon and hiking out to meet rescuers. Ralston had been hiking alone when the boulder fell and pinned his right arm as he was moving through the narrow slot last Saturday afternoon, according to information from the sheriff's offices in Emery and Wayne counties.
Ralston told rescuers that on Thursday morning he realized he would not survive unless he took drastic action. He had run out of water on Tuesday.
Search efforts that had begun Wednesday evening yielded no signs of the hiker until he walked out of the canyon with two other hikers at about 3 p.m. Thursday. Ralston was taken to Allen Memorial Hospital in Moab where he was stabilized before transport to St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., for surgery.
The episode marked Ralston's second brush with death since February, when he was buried in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in the Colorado Rockies. Ralston, an avid outdoorsman who has climbed 49 of Colorado's 14,000-foot-plus mountains, was buried up to his neck in the avalanche, managing to dig himself out along with a completely buried skiing companion within 15 minutes.
Ralston's pocketknife amputation was not the first in the region. In October 1993, Colorado fisherman Bill Jeracki cut off his leg at the knee when two boulders fell on his leg while angling alone in a remote canyon stream. Trapped and yelling for hours, Jeracki made the decision to sever the limb after the weather took a turn for the worse and he became concerned for his survival. He used hemostats from his fishing kit to close the severed artery and vein, then crawled a half mile back to his truck and drove to find help.
— Scott Willoughby
Hiker who cut off arm does 100-mile race - othersports- nbcsports.msnbc.com
Hiker who cut off arm does 100-mile race
Ralston saved life last year after being pinned by boulder
updated 7:00 p.m. ET, Tues., Aug 24, 2004
LEADVILLE, Colo. - A little over a year after cutting off his arm to save his life during a solo hike in Utah, Aspen adventurer Aron Ralston has completed a grueling 100-mile race at over 10,000 feet elevation.
More than 400 runners began the Leadville Trail race before dawn on Saturday, racing through hail and lightning at times, but fewer than half officially completed the race. Some dropped out because of nausea and cramps and others weren't able to cross the finish line within the 30-hour time limit.
Ralston, an official finisher with a time of 29:43, said he got sick after eating an onion sandwich but continued running despite feeling nauseated.
race for the second straight year with a time of 17:16:19. Anthea Schmid of Crested Butte was the first woman to finish, with a time of 23:30:43.
Volunteers at aid stations peeled bananas for Ralston, who previously had only run in 5K races.
"I felt in good balance," he said. "I helped one gentleman who took a spill."
His mother Donna Ralston was waiting at the finish line to give him a hug.
Last April Ralston was hiking alone, negotiating a canyon in southeastern Utah when his right arm became pinned beneath an 800-pound boulder. After other failed attempts, he freed himself on the fifth day by snapping his bones and using a knife to cut through his arm.
He applied a tourniquet and clambered out of the canyon. After a six-mile hike, he found tourists who flagged down a helicopter.
Since then he has learned to play the piano one-handed, climbed 14,000-foot-tall Colorado mountains alone and returned to skiing and mountain biking.
I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.
I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.
Veni, Vidi, Velcro
June 23rd, 2010 02:14 PM
"Each worker carried his sword strapped to his side." Nehemiah 4:18
Guns Save Lives. Paramedics Save Lives. But...
Paramedics With Guns Scare People!
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