When he begins to share his story, Joshua (Josh) Jamison will tell you that it starts much like it does for many of us. “I decided to start college at 18,” he says. “I had just bought a house on a lake and the boy-to-girl ratio was 3-to-1, those seemed like good odds,” he chuckles. It’s not until later in the story that his jovial attitude and carefree spirit might begin to surprise you. Josh has been through more physically in the last 12 years than most people have to endure in a lifetime, and yet, he continues to smile.
In 2001, Josh was in Snellville, Georgia, heading home on I-24 when he was struck by an 18-wheeler. The physical damage was severe. His head was split open and he was unconscious. Thankfully, he had a friend with him, who called 9-1-1. Josh was lifeflighted from the scene and it wasn’t until weeks later that Josh came-to from his coma. “All I remember is that I woke up at Emory,” he recalls. “After a month, I started to remember things. I was paralyzed on my right side for some time. A lot of it is still very fuzzy.”
Josh didn’t return to school after the accident, but he did return to work. Having worked much of his life in hands-on jobs, Josh got back into the swing of things working as an arborist. At 26 years old, he was on the job hanging a tree, or taking it down vertically (as opposed to horizontally, which is typical). Somewhere in the process, the tree fell as planned, but not in the place where Josh expected it to. The tree came down on Josh’s foot, which was shattered, cut open, and badly damaged. He was initially sent to a local area hospital that told Josh the outlook wasn’t good– they were going to have to amputate his leg from the knee down. Being an active and young man at the time with a mom who he describes as “great at researching medical caregivers,” Josh wouldn’t accept amputation and immobility as his future.
He was again transferred to Emory, where Dr. Culbertson told Josh that they would be able to save not only his foot, but his leg as well. “He used my back muscle to repair my foot. They amputated my big toe instead of my whole leg, and grafted the muscle to preserve its function. I still have my balance and I don’t have to use a prosthetic limb.” After two major accidents in a 4 year window of time, Josh vowed to return to school, this time, not because of the promising 3-to-1 male-to-female ratio, but that didn’t stop fate from intervening, “That’s when I met my wife,” he recalls with a sigh of relief.
You’d think for Josh, it was “happily ever after” from there, right? Not so fast. Only a few months ago, in late 2012, when using a backpack blower while atop of a flat roof, Josh slipped. He landed on his elbow in the concrete driveway below. The impact shattered Josh’s elbow and was yet another blow to the healthy outlook on life he had regained after the previous two accidents. Once again, Josh chose and was treated at Emory, this time, by Dr. Claudius D. Jarrett, who would go on to repair Josh’s elbow. “I’m still in rehab for that one,” he adds.
After 12 years and three accidents, Josh opted to steer clear of jobs that required manual labor. “I’ve actually retired now and I’m happy. I have my wife, my life and my health thanks to the doctors at Emory.”