“I felt my arm as if it was there,” the PBS correspondent explains. “And I was like, OK, I dodged that bullet and I looked down and go uh-oh, that did not go well.”
How would you react if you woke up one day and found yourself without one of your limbs?
PBS science correspondent Miles O'Brien knows this feeling all too well and gave a harrowing account of how he lost his arm while on assignment in Japan with Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday's “Today” show.
“Is it starting to to set in?” Guthrie asked O'Brien. “How are you handling this new life?”
“I think I'm still on adrenaline!” O'Brien quipped. “One of my first thoughts when I got out of the surgery was, I just went to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear power plant and seemingly risked a lot there… I just dove into work. And it turned out to be good tonic for me.”
O'Brien found it astonishing that despite all the dangerous activities he's done in his life, something as mundane as a bruise from an equipment case could be so life altering.
“When I think of all the risky things I've done in my life, jumping out of airplanes, flying airplanes, scuba diving, the fact that an equipment case could take my arm is mind-boggling! But it's acute compartment syndrome, which is a build up of the sheathing inside your tissue, inside your limb, and it causes the blood know to stop and that's why I got in trouble.”
“So you go to the hospital and the doctor says we're going to do surgery to relieve the pressure,” Guthrie recounted. “You knew it was a possibility you would lose your limb. But here you wake up in a strange country and you find out that's exactly what had happened.”
“Yeah, because I felt my arm as if it was there,” he acknowledged. “And I was like, OK, I dodged that bullet and I looked down and go uh-oh, that did not go well! So that was not good moment, for sure.”
“You did something amazing, in my opinion,” Guthrie said. “You stayed there. you didn't tell anyone at home what was happening. You got well enough to get yourself back to this country and you worked on your story,” Guthrie said.
O'Brien told Guthrie he didn't want to worry anyone and had to deal with his injury on his own terms before revealing it to his friends and family.
Watch O'Brien open up about his ordeal below: