Monday, June 21, 2010

Jonathan Metz

Many of you have heard about the ordeal of Jonathan Metz, 31, the West Hartford, Connecticut man whose arm became wedged inside a basement boiler earlier in the month. Faced with the unbelievable decision of having to sever his own arm or to slowly slip into consciousness and die from a combination of infection and exsanguination, Metz was placed in a position few can truly fathom. He could smell his flesh beginning to rot and he knew that gangrene would soon spread from his decaying arm throughout his body, releasing toxins that would eventually shut down his organs. Because of the position Metz was in while cleaning the boiler, he was neither in a full sitting or standing position. He screamed to no avail for hours on end and had left his cell phone upstairs. He would not be able to sleep, but he did drift in and out of consciousness for the two days of his crisis. The thought of being found by his parents or others days later gave him the courage to consider the options he had. He famously pondered, "What would MacGyver do?" Like a wolf whose paw has been caught in a trap, Metz made the choice for life. Over a two-day period in terrible pain, bleeding and without food and only limited water from the boiler, he took the brave, painful route of tying off his arm with a tourniquet and almost completely hacking off his own rotting limb with several saw blades that were in reach of his one free hand. The pain was so severe that he could not complete the operation entirely. A small set of nerves underneath the arm sent such unbearable paroxysms of pain that he left a small section of his arm still attached to his body. When Luca DiGregorio, a co-worker, came by to check on him and discovered the door locked and Metz's dog Porsche yelping at the door, he called the local emergency services. First responders from West Hartford ripped down the door, only to discover the weak and frail man in his basement still wedged in the boiler at the verge of death, the floor covered in a mix of blood and waste from the boiler. It is a life choice that was similarly faced by mountain climber Aron Ralston seven years ago. Ralston's arm became pinned by a boulder while single canyoneering in Utah. For five days he, too, had to consider what other course to take before he used a pocketknife to amputate his arm just below the elbow. Metz's arm was cut just past his shoulder, but doctors say his actions probably saved his life. Released from St. Francis Hospital in Hartford after a week, he will require a new prosthetic arm and donations to recover the cost of the surgeries and that device are being sought on a website here. This story has captured much of the nation's attention over the course of the last several weeks and Metz took the Today Show's Matt Lauer on a tour of his basement and described for him in gory detail what was going through his mind during his crisis. It made for very gripping and compelling television watching and his positive outlook and total lack of self-pity were especially moving. However, what many of you don't know what is Metz's New Orleans connection. Metz was an undergraduate student at Tulane University from 1997 until his graduation in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. While here he met and fell in love with his fiancée, Melissa Mowder of Kinston, North Carolina. Metz later completed his Master of Business Administration graduate degree at the University of Connecticut and has been working as an insurance industry financial planner. Prior to the accident both Metz and Mowder had been planning a fall wedding in New Orleans, a city that has meant much to them through the years, especially after its recovery from the catastrophic flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. Both of them indicate the wedding will take place as originally planned. It is safe to say they are both grateful to have that choice and Metz's ordeal and his positive attitude towards living life will serve as an inspiration to others in Connecticut, Louisiana and throughout the world.

1 comment:

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