Personal Stories: Josh Clamon

Hello everyone. My name is Josh I'm 30 years old and a survivor or an Aortic tear.

My story is a lot different than most on this site. It was May 3 2008 on a Friday evening 2 days before my daughters 5th birthday. when my life changed forever. I was in a really bad accident on a go-cart going around 45 or 50mph when I slammed into a culvert and came to an instant stop. My 5yr old seen it all poor kid had thought her dad was dieing because of all the blood. The seat belt broke and my chest hit the steering wheel with everything I had. I got out of the cart and started to walk hunched over trying to catch my breath from the wind being knocked out of me it kind of felt like being hit in the sternum with a ball bat. While trying to walk I noticed my right ankle was broken and it hurt pretty bad so I sat down and leaned back trying to figure out what just happened to me.

The pain I was feeling in my chest was so intense I thought I broke something in my chest and decided to tell my 5 yr old daughter to grab my cell phone and call 911.The paramedics arrived and took me to the local hospital and filled me up on morphine and oxycodone. They did a ct scan I believe and told me I had a spot on my left lung and I would be getting a life flight to University of Michigan hospital where they discovered a tear in my Aorta and told me I would need emergency open heart surgery and replace the torn aorta with a graft.

At that point I thought my life was over as I new it. I remember giving all my family hugs and told them I will be fine I'm tough and this will be a walk in the park.(YAH RIGHT) As the team of folks rushed me down the halls to the OR It seemed like an eternity, my whole life flashed through my mind and started to tear up all while the anesthesiologist reassured my she was going to take great care of me.AsI wound up having the surgery 9hours of it they cut me open under my left arm from my ribs all the way around up to my shoulder blade. I have never had any kind of surgery before. I was in pretty good shape I thought. I could run a mile in 5:30,was nothing for me to get on my mountain bike and go for a 50 mile ride. Raced motocross as well as snowmobiles, hunted and fished, and worked out all the time and played numerous sports.

After the operation I was placed in the cardiac ICU for recovery. When the aesthetics wore off I became combative I tore out my breathing tube because it was choking me. So they tied my hands down and put it back in. This did not go over so well for me I'm a strong fighter so I started chewing on it I'll fix you I thought). Mind you I'm still in and out of consciousness from the surgery's the team of Doc's and nurses decided not to follow protocol and remove the ventilator. Then I get the shingles of all things from the trauma man o man does that stuff hurt closes thing I can compare to that is dumping gas on your leg and lighting it on fire no joke.

The next week was pure hell I thought. It seemed as though all the doctors had nothing but bad news. I had numerous blood clots in my leg from the broken ankle and clots in my lungs so they placed a Gunther Tulip Vena Cava filter in my neck and gave me about 5 shots a day of Heparin in the stomach of which burns like nobody's bussiness.They expect you up and walking the next day but I couldn't very well in my position. They told me I needed to walk to the end of the hall and back in order to be released. So I manned up and told my family I will walk with crutches to the end of the hall and back if it kills me and I did, I played it off like it didn't hurt but Oh man it took everything I had and then some not to wince from the pain under my left arm.

My life as I new it no longer existed. I went from a trill seeking adrenalin junky to someone who had limits on everything. I was so bitter at the world and the doc's because it seemed like they always had bad news as far as my limits with my current lifestyle. At one point I told the doc's and nurses to be quiet unless they had something good to say-So they started telling me most people with this injury don't make it. They die before the paramedics even arrive and just how lucky I really am to still be here.

Well I spent 8 days in cardiac ice with more bells and gadgets hooked up to me than I new existed.

It has been 9 months since the accident and do feel pretty good some days and others I feel a lot of sharp pains in the heart area they say is normal and may take a year to stop. and some days I just find myself so emotional and overwhelmed I guess from all the meds I now have to take and limits on activities. I have a 50# weight limit for the rest of my life and cannot strain to lift anything. But I've always been one to push the envelope in fact I asked my surgeon 3 months after the surgery if I could go to Cedar Pointe which is an amusement park and rode every roller coaster in the park.Yah it hurt but I felt alive again well worth it I guess.

The one thing I have a problem with is the depression how do you deal with it? I have never had a problem with depression I feel like I lost my edge, get scared easily, or nervous about everything and wonder how long I have to live. I now don't take to much for granted and try to live everyday like its my last. It really makes you appreciate all the little things in life.

Thanks for listening and sorry its so long.

One day at a time.....

Josh Clamon


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