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dianeP
12-26-2008, 11:29 PM
I have a scene in which the hero has a bullet in his calf. The heroine pulls the skin apart and goes in with her fingers to pull it out. Other than taking in a deep breath and paling slightly, the hero shows no sign of pain.

This is my first attempt at an action/romance and while I'm enjoying having a few scenes that are a little over the top, a little far-fetched, I don't want it to be completely cartoonish or super-heroish.

Is this too over the top, or reasonably believable?

GirlWithPoisonPen
12-26-2008, 11:54 PM
What kind of bullet are we talking about? How far in? Can she see the bullet or is it embedded?

Usually you need tweezers or clamps to get one out. Digging through muscle with fingers would be hard because it's not as squishy as the skin.

If she started digging around with her fingers -- rather than using a tweezer -- he'd probably pass out from the pain.

Rabe
12-27-2008, 12:04 AM
I have a scene in which the hero has a bullet in his calf. The heroine pulls the skin apart and goes in with her fingers to pull it out. Other than taking in a deep breath and paling slightly, the hero shows no sign of pain.

This is my first attempt at an action/romance and while I'm enjoying having a few scenes that are a little over the top, a little far-fetched, I don't want it to be completely cartoonish or super-heroish.

Is this too over the top, or reasonably believable?


I do also wonder why he's feeling no pain.

Did he get drunk?

Take painkillers?

Deep relaxation meditation?

Some other method?

Because, yeah, a whole lotta far fetched to me if there wasn't a pain blocking method used. Plus, just reaching in to pull out the bullet? I'm having a problem with that as well.

What kind of bullet used, fired from what kind weapon?

Rabe...

dianeP
12-27-2008, 12:32 AM
Hmmm... a small bullet, and it is just under the skin.
I don't know if this can turn off readers, but I am deliberately vague about the weapons. The story is told from her POV and aside from, "a small handgun and big military type rifle," she knows nothing about guns.
As for painkillers, no there`s nothing, just bravado. He does almost faint when the bullet comes out. She sees him go pale and and bite back on the pain. Then he make a joke about band-aids.
Which brings me to even more far-fetched... he binds the wound with black electric tape. That's all they have.

GirlWithPoisonPen
12-27-2008, 12:47 AM
Do they have any matches? Like the wooden kind? She could use two of those to extract the bullet and then light one to cauterize the wound. He would probably pass out from that, but if there's much more to come in the book--and more running--that might be a good idea. The skin would seal close.

Also if she uses her fingers, there's a huge chance of him getting an infection. She'd could introduce bacteria into the wound. He'd be sick with fever within 24 to 48 hours.

Any booze around? It would be good to pour on the wound too.

And I'm super happy to hear of a woman writing an action/romance story. I love those!

BarbaraKE
12-27-2008, 01:06 AM
Wouldn't most bullets pass right through a calf (unless it hit bone or was deflected by something before it hit the flesh)?

dianeP
12-27-2008, 01:44 AM
I do mention the strong possibility of infection. The match idea is good though. I like that.
As for the bullet passing through, yeah, I thought of that. I don't mention it in the ms, but I'm thinking if would have to deflect off something. The only thing around them at this time however is the ground.
It hit the ground and went up to hit him in the calf? Would that work?

Thanks you guys...

Palmfrond
12-27-2008, 02:02 AM
I don't think so. If the bullet is so superficial that the heroine can pull it out with her fingers, it's barely under the skin. This wound is no worse than a splinter. There would be minimal blood loss, minimal risk of systemic infection (fever), and if the guy faints, he's a serious nancy. There probably would be local infection by the next day (redness and swelling) but it wouldn't be life-threatening.

Cyia
12-27-2008, 10:37 AM
Digging around in any wound for a bullet is going to hurt unless the guy is already delerious, drunk or doped. Exactly how did he get shot? Because if the bullet ricocheted off the ground then it most like wasn't aimed at him. If the person shooting was standing close to him, the bullet wouldn't be shallow enough for her to pull it out without a tool of some kind.

Rabe
12-27-2008, 12:36 PM
I do mention the strong possibility of infection. The match idea is good though. I like that.
As for the bullet passing through, yeah, I thought of that. I don't mention it in the ms, but I'm thinking if would have to deflect off something. The only thing around them at this time however is the ground.
It hit the ground and went up to hit him in the calf? Would that work?

Thanks you guys...

Uhm...hit the ground and then hit him?

I wouldn't toss the book against the wall...I like the wall too much.

Unless you're refering to something like stone or concrete, the idea of a bullet bouncing off the ground and then hitting someone with enough force to create a skin puncture would be beyond acceptable. I'd never get to the rest of the story that you've posted.

Even hitting something hard like concrete or stone, I'm wondering about the angle of deflection and the reduction of force and then the positioning of the person so that it hits him in the calf.

Instead have it go through another type of material to where it would have lost sufficient force to penetrate more than superficially. And the bullet could be easily subtracted if the character doing the removal sees a part of the bullet. This makes what you're trying to do a bit more believable.

Also, remember, black electrical tape isn't all that great on wet environments. Like skin. Use duct tape instead. It's like the Force - got a light side, a dark side and binds everything together. But make sure to put a bandage of some kind over the wound - something like a handkerchief or wad of toilet paper.

Use duct tape and you have another 'owie' scene later. Plus endless jokes about his 'receding hairline' should the duct tape be taken off - along with whatever hair it's fastened to.

Rabe...

GirlWithPoisonPen
12-27-2008, 07:26 PM
Diane, be sure to let me know when you post in SYW.

Tsu Dho Nimh
12-28-2008, 04:45 AM
I have a scene in which the hero has a bullet in his calf. The heroine pulls the skin apart and goes in with her fingers to pull it out.

Doesn't work unless the bullet is only partially embedded. ... the flesh closes over the bullet, bullets take odd paths, the entrance wound in the skin may not match the rest of the path depending on the position he was in, and you need forceps and probes to follow the path and yank it out.


Other than taking in a deep breath and paling slightly, the hero shows no sign of pain.

He'd be screaming like a wounded banshee ... that stuff hurts. I've seen cops pass out, even with the pain killers.

Rabe
12-28-2008, 11:05 AM
He'd be screaming like a wounded banshee ... that stuff hurts. I've seen cops pass out, even with the pain killers.

That's because cops are actually a bunch of big babies!

But at least they're not firemen.

Rabe...

ColoradoGuy
12-28-2008, 10:19 PM
Bullets deep in soft tissue are often just left there if the wound (entry site) is clean and doesn't have a lot of devitalized tissue.

GeorgeK
12-29-2008, 06:21 PM
Do they have any matches? Like the wooden kind? She could use two of those to extract the bullet and then light one to cauterize the wound. He would probably pass out from that, but if there's much more to come in the book--and more running--that might be a good idea. The skin would seal close.

Also if she uses her fingers, there's a huge chance of him getting an infection. She'd could introduce bacteria into the wound. He'd be sick with fever within 24 to 48 hours.

Any booze around? It would be good to pour on the wound too.

!

That only works in Hollywood and would be almost a guarantee to cause a wound infection, except for the booze which is likely to be non-plus and better used to disinfect your surgical instuments with a 20 minute soak and then given to the patient to drink. If matches are strong enough to pull a bullet, then the bullet is so close to the surface that they aren't needed. Splinters will more likely infect a wound than a bullet and the non-surgeon attempting cautery is likely to cause more damage than help. There is no real need to go digging for a bullet out in the field. Death from infection in a healthy person would be more likely in 1-2 weeks. Death in under 2 days will be from blood loss.

Tsu Dho Nimh
12-30-2008, 01:58 AM
The proper removal, according to my 1850s surgeon's book, is to slice through the skin, expose the bullet, the path and the entrance wound, clean them all and then stitch of close the slice and apply a dressing.

dianeP
12-30-2008, 06:36 PM
I don't think so. If the bullet is so superficial that the heroine can pull it out with her fingers, it's barely under the skin. This wound is no worse than a splinter. There would be minimal blood loss, minimal risk of systemic infection (fever), and if the guy faints, he's a serious nancy. There probably would be local infection by the next day (redness and swelling) but it wouldn't be life-threatening.

This is great. Thanks. Yeah, it is just under the skin. She can see the top of the bullet.

dianeP
12-30-2008, 06:44 PM
Wow... thanks everyone for your input.

As to how he gets shot, he's running away from the shooter and they are a good distance from one another. They're in the desert.

Robert Vernon
02-28-2009, 10:29 PM
I got nailed with bird shot, from a shotgun. I had a pellet in my forehead, sort of right between the eyes and up a little bit. I looked in the glass of a storm door and could see the lead. I dug it out with my thumbnail and forgot about it.

If she could see the bullet she could get it out with her fingers, no problem. It would not hurt and should not cause a serious infection.



stonefly

RJK
03-02-2009, 06:17 PM
Have the bullet travel through something else before it hits the guy. that will slow its velocity enough so that it doesn't penetrate into the meat or go right through. Have your heroine use a knife to dig it out - much more realistic. Have him smile, grit his teeth and pass out. There's just too much pain there to ignore.

dianeP
03-02-2009, 06:51 PM
Thanks again, guys.
As for the pain, I recently listened to a talk show that mentioned self hypnosis to control pain. Some people do this prior to going to the dentist etc. I was considering using that...

Chase
03-02-2009, 07:24 PM
I've heard being tough as a sack of hammers works well. Me, I just scream and cry until the pain goes away.

JrFFKacy
03-03-2009, 06:37 PM
But at least they're not firemen.

Rabe...

Um, ouch!

Try standing outside in -24 degree weather at 03:00Hrs, arguing with a cop who's sitting in his nice warm cop car with a cup of Timmie's coffee about why he CANNOT drive down the one lane road at the same time the Tanker is driving up the aforementioned road and that he MUST wait for permission from scene command before he can drive in to the fire (so he doesn't run smack into one of the tankers and/or put himself in the ditch effectively ending our firefighting activities). We firefighters had to park out on this road and either stand in the cold waiting for a tanker to ride in on, or walk the mile in to the scene. For some reason Joe Cop felt he should just be able to drive in.

By the time he arrived, we'd been fighting the fire for an hour and already most of our manpower had frozen feet (bordering on frostbite). We were on that scene for at least 8 hours, then had to load two pick-up trucks (one of them was mine) with frozen hose and other equipment, go back to the hall and thaw it out and hang it up (another 2 hour procedure). Aforementioned cop was on scene for about ten minutes and ended up getting bored and leaving before command got a chance to tell him he could come in.

...just defending my kind...lol...

JrFFKacy
03-03-2009, 06:42 PM
I suppose a constructive message would also be in order.

As far as extracting a bullet with your fingers goes, if it's bloody, it's going to be way to slippery to get a hold of, unless she happens to carry a pair of hemostat foreceps in her purse...regardless, it's gonna hurt. Think of how bad it can be to get a decent sized sliver out of your own skin. A bullet, imbedded into your leg, well, I agree with the others, he's likely gonna pass out or at least make some noise, no matter how tough he is.

If she's a practical sort of person, perhaps she carries first-aid sort of stuff with her (not a whole ambulance, just the basics)? And electrical tape will work for bandages. I've used it on my fingers before. The beauty of it is that it stretches, so it will go on really tightly. Too tightly sometimes, but if you wanted to stop bleeding for a few minutes, it'd work.

dianeP
03-03-2009, 07:45 PM
Good to know about the electric tape JrFFKacy.
As for the first-aid... no, she has nothing.

JrFFKacy
03-05-2009, 07:22 PM
Got to thinking about the electrical tape and how I was using it. Both times I used on my fingers was when I was working with livestock and nicked my fingertip pretty good. Once was with scissors, the other was with a pair of electric sheep shears (it really bled that time!). My skin was completely dry and I just stuck the end of the tape to my finger and unwound it off the roll really tightly. If you cut a piece off first, it wouldn't be as stretchy. Depends on how tight you want it. You have to wrap it all the way around the appendage your bandaging and stick it back to itself. It likely wouldn't work if the skin was wet.

I've also heard of people using electrical tape and a piece of plastic pipe to make a splint for a young lamb with a broken leg. Apparently it works great, so I guess we should all be adding electrical tape to our first-aid kits!