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Thomas_Anderson
06-10-2009, 12:45 PM
At the end of my story, my MC is in a very close life or death situation, and the only way out of it was to make a fairly deep wound in the side of his neck. It's an elven magic thing, and the only way he could end the spell was with his iron knife.

How lethal would such a wound be? I made special mention that it wasn't anywhere near the jugular, he aimed for the muscular area instead. Would he be in serious trouble really fast, or could he realistically make it to a nearby hospital? I'm pretty sure he'd have to make a visit to the hospital, but the part relevant to the story is could he take his sweet time going the hospital, or would he be passing out? Or am I completely wrong, his blood would clot like a regular injury, and he'd be fine?

Not sure if it makes a difference, but he was being choked almost to death right before he injured himself.

raburrell
06-10-2009, 03:34 PM
There was a hockey player a few years back who survived getting his carotid slashed with no permanent side effects - I'm too sleepy to go find the link, but perhaps you could look into it further. Bottom line is that yes, it's survivable under certain conditions.

Cyia
06-10-2009, 03:58 PM
Nick a carotid artery, and there better be someone on hand to do some major first aid majorly fast. Depending on how bad the wound is, you're talking a matter of seconds before someone bleeds out on their own (like less than 30 at rest or 20 if panicked IIRC). There's something like an inch between the jugular and carotid, and by far the safest one to puncture is the jugular (with the carotid, the blood is pumping full force straight out of the heart, the amount of pressure required to propel blood through the body is high) The carotid is deeper in, though, so it's more likely that your guy would hit his jugular (there's one of each on each side of the neck).

If he's got good aim or good luck, it would be feasible that a knife blade turned sideways (rather than at its widest point) could slip between the two without damaging either.

backslashbaby
06-10-2009, 09:29 PM
I would think a deep wound that doesn't touch the important arteries mentioned above would be a lot like other deep wounds, blood-wise. So he would be OK for time if he put pressure on it, etc. The wound being higher than the heart might even make it less intense than the same wound near the foot (very bloody when walking with one, actually!) :)

Pthom
06-11-2009, 01:54 AM
Thomas, you might get a wider variety of useful responses if you ask your question in the Story Research (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=66) forum. :)

Thomas_Anderson
06-11-2009, 06:20 AM
Thanks, Pthom, I'll try that.

But, I made mention he didn't knick the jugular, he cut at the muscular area of the neck. Are there major arteries in that part as well?

Pthom
06-12-2009, 01:29 AM
Thomas, in ten minutes, I found, using Google, several references for the anatomy of the human neck, with discussion and drawings. What I learned: probing into the neck with a sharp instrument is not to be done without extreme caution, and unlikely to be without major trauma if done by someone not in the know.

Are you aware that Gray's Anatomy (the venerable illustrated tome of the human body*) is available online, for free?

Check out this page: Gray's Anatomy, Fig 558 (http://www.bartleby.com/107/illus558.html)


*ETA: yes, written in 1918, but the human body hasn't changed much since, eh?

backslashbaby
06-12-2009, 02:02 AM
Hmmm... yeah, define deep ;) If you just mean 'draws a lot of blood' that's one thing, but if it needs to penetrate far, I retract my above comment :)

My brother got cut in the neck by a broken beer bottle thrown at him, btw! Very bloody, but fortunately it missed the arteries. Totally terrifying to be bleeding profusely from the neck, he said!

Thomas_Anderson
06-12-2009, 06:35 AM
He doesn't ram it in all the way. He puts the knife in about a centimeter or two.

Pthom
06-12-2009, 11:07 AM
He puts the knife in about a centimeter or two.
Do check out the available illustrations of human neck anatomy. Two centimeters (about an inch) is certainly deep enough to do severe (and likely irreparable) damage.

Have you ever stuck a knife into you to the depth of an inch? I once tried to cut my palm (like you see in the movies) to produce blood for a stupid "blood brother" ritual the neighborhood kids were playing at. I chickened out at a depth of one or two millimeters! It really, really hurts a lot. I am forever amazed at the story of that guy who, trapped in a crevasse in the Utah desert, cut off his own arm to survive. And he waited till he was nearly dead to do that.

Accidental cuts are a surprise, especially if obtained during a fight or while struggling at something and can be fairly deep before noticing. But to inflict such injury on yourself, in as tender a place as your own neck? You would have to work very hard to suspend my disbelief.

James D. Macdonald
06-13-2009, 06:54 PM
You've got the external and internal jugulars, the external and internal carotids, you've got the spine, you've got the vagus nerve (cranial nerve X), you've got the phrenic nerve, you've got the trachea and the esophagus ... lots of important structures there.

Neck injuries aren't necessarily fatal (I've seen a guy who cut his own throat with a chainsaw, another who cut his throat with a cement saw, and another who was shot through the neck, all survive with minimal disruption) but they can be tricky.

Part of the problem is in controlling bleeding with direct pressure without inducing strangulation. Another problem is if you hit the jugular you can get a sucking neck wound, where air is drawn into circulation through the vein.

If all you have to do is pierce the flesh with the iron knife to break the enchantment, consider using some other area. If it has to be the neck, aim for the sterno-cleido-mastoid muscle, but be aware that the external jugular lies on top of it.

Nivarion
06-14-2009, 02:11 AM
You know, honestly there is nothing wrong with tradgetys. If he HAS to stab himself in the neck there is no law out there that says he has to live. He just has to kill the bad guy. (or not depending on your story.)

But if you need to stab him, I hear the back of the neck in the straps are good. go in and keep close to the skin.

Thomas_Anderson
06-15-2009, 03:32 AM
Do check out the available illustrations of human neck anatomy. Two centimeters (about an inch) is certainly deep enough to do severe (and likely irreparable) damage.

Have you ever stuck a knife into you to the depth of an inch? I once tried to cut my palm (like you see in the movies) to produce blood for a stupid "blood brother" ritual the neighborhood kids were playing at. I chickened out at a depth of one or two millimeters! It really, really hurts a lot. I am forever amazed at the story of that guy who, trapped in a crevasse in the Utah desert, cut off his own arm to survive. And he waited till he was nearly dead to do that.

Accidental cuts are a surprise, especially if obtained during a fight or while struggling at something and can be fairly deep before noticing. But to inflict such injury on yourself, in as tender a place as your own neck? You would have to work very hard to suspend my disbelief.

If he didn't make the cut, he was going to strangle to death. It was a magical noose that formed beneath the flesh, and then constricted to choke him. So, his logic was if he lived, great, if he bled out, well, he'd be dead anyway if he didn't even try.