One month after an Encinitas man’s arm was severed by brush-clearing machinery and launched 50 yards away; the Caltrans contractor is staying upbeat and finding new ways to go about daily life.
He’s also maintaining a sense of humor.
“I can’t floss. That was one of the first things I joked with the dentist about… ‘This is great; I don’t have to floss anymore!’ But she’s like, ‘they make the little flossers, the little one hand ones’,” said Jason Giessow.
Giessow was removing invasive plants from the side of Highway 76 on Nov. 17 as part of a CalTrans widening project. His arm was launched 50 yards away from him when a cable became caught in brush-clearing machinery, snapped up and severed the limb.
“I was thrown to the ground and then I noticed my tooth was chipped and then I felt kind of an electric jolt,” said Giessow.
He looked down and saw that his arm was gone.
“And then it’s kind of like, you want to survive in that mode,” said Giessow. “I was very calm, which kind of sounds weird that one would be calm in a situation like that.”
Three people at the site helped apply pressure to the wound.
“It was 17 minutes before the paramedics got there, so that’s a long time. But we all made it through,” said Giessow.
Rescuers found the arm about an hour later and sent it directly to Palomar Hospital in ice and saline.
“I wanted to really thank those people,” said Giessow. “It’s dense brush, so it’s not an easy job and it wasn’t like, ‘oh, there it is, over there.’ I mean, it was far from the accident site.”
Unfortunately, the injury to the arm was so severe, it could not be reattached.
“It took a lot of individuals and a fair bit of time, but they found the arm quickly enough that if it had of been in good enough shape, that there would have been a potential to reattach it,” said Giessow.
Two UCSD doctors and a surgeon at Palomar Hospital agreed that it would not have been a functional limb if it would have been reattached.
“And then there probably would have been a high likelihood of infection too, because there’s just so much traumatic tissue damage,” said Giessow.
He’s not focusing on the fact that he lost his arm.
He’s just happy to be alive.
“It’s like I didn’t really have a really high expectation that they would be able to attach it. I was hopeful, but relieved that I didn’t die,” said Giessow.
Now, he’s finding different approaches to do everyday tasks.
“There are some things that aren’t going to be the same, for sure. I can still kind of do those activities, but in a different way,” said Giessow.
Playing soccer with his 9-year-old son is still a favorite activity.
Giessow hopes to get a prosthetic arm, but he’s happy living without one until then.
“Life is rich with opportunities. There will be other things that can fill some of those voids that I've lost,” said Giessow.
Giessow has hired an attorney and is looking into a possible lawsuit.