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gwendy85
03-15-2010, 06:18 AM
Hi again guys!

I was wondering if anyone anyone can tell me about recovery time for abdominal gunshot wounds?

My story is set in World War II. My character will be shot by a Japanese (using an Arisaka rifle) whilst running through a field of tall grass. The wound will be in the abdomen (though this may change, especially which side). There's going to be a lot of blood and the character will be near death (due to blood loss?), if not for a highly-skilled doctor in the vicinity.

What I'm wondering is, how long will it take before my character can be up and about enough to travel with friends and join the resistance? Can anyone describe the pains associated with abdominal wounds? Excruciating or tolerable to a degree? And what can be done to reduce the pain (WWII-era, with very little supplies, no morphine).

Thanks again!

ColoradoGuy
03-15-2010, 07:31 AM
Hi again guys!

I was wondering if anyone anyone can tell me about recovery time for abdominal gunshot wounds?

My story is set in World War II. My character will be shot by a Japanese (using an Arisaka rifle) whilst running through a field of tall grass. The wound will be in the abdomen (though this may change, especially which side). There's going to be a lot of blood and the character will be near death (due to blood loss?), if not for a highly-skilled doctor in the vicinity.

What I'm wondering is, how long will it take before my character can be up and about enough to travel with friends and join the resistance? Can anyone describe the pains associated with abdominal wounds? Excruciating or tolerable to a degree? And what can be done to reduce the pain (WWII-era, with very little supplies, no morphine).

Thanks again!
An abdominal wound like that generally needs major surgery to fix the injuries to the intestines and other abdominal organs that may also be injured -- liver, spleen, and (behind the abdominal cavity) kidneys. There also are some major vessels that can be injured. The character would need more than minimal facilities to survive. Infection would be a major potential problem.

But, as I keep saying when people post all these injury questions, injuries are unpredictable and people heal differently. People are also sometimes extraordinarily lucky. I once had a patient who had a strip of metal fly out of a lawn mower and lodge in his neck between the carotid artery and jugular vein, injuring neither one. That's nearly impossible. But it happened. I had another patient fall from a third story window and land on his head on concrete and suffer only a minor concussion. You're writing fiction anyway. Readers will suspend disbelief if your plot is compelling. You could have your character shot in the side of the abdomen, have the bullet just pass through the muscles surrounding the abdomen, and never enter the true abdominal cavity at all. It would look messy, be bloody, but he could be up and around within a couple of weeks.

shaldna
03-15-2010, 01:47 PM
Abdomial wounds are very serious, and if he punctures an major organ he will probably die unless he can get to surgery.

Also, if his stomach ruptures then he has about 15 minutes before he dies as a result of the acid and foodstuff in his stomach entering his bloodstream.

As the poster above said, infection is a major issue. And blood loss.

In all probability he would die before he could be seen to.

Should he survive then it would be weeks before he could get out of bed, and maybe several months before he was fit to travel again.

He would also be sent home, he would not have been allowed to rejoin the fight.

gwendy85
03-15-2010, 05:17 PM
Thank you so much for your responses! I guess I'll have to rethink when my character will be up and about. I was hoping three days at the very least, but I guess this is going to pretty impossible. Then again, as far as I've written, I didn't exactly describe the injury, just the character's feelings, but that one, I'm not even sure.

I think I'll do better by not describing the exact injury, but just give the impression of it.

I've written the character to be in great pain (or shock?) and so delirious everything's just going past him, and he's mixing up certain events, and people who are supposed to be dead. Then he'll be up again in, at the very least, three days time, so I suppose the injury's not really fatal, but quite messy.

While we're on that subject, does shock induce hallucinations? If not, what circumstances can, given the scenario?

Again, thank you so much! :D

shaldna
03-15-2010, 05:29 PM
While we're on that subject, does shock induce hallucinations? If not, what circumstances can, given the scenario?
! :D


Shock can cuase all manner of reactions that can be unique to individuals.

Fever caused by infection can induce hallucinations, as can a reaction to certain meds.

icerose
03-15-2010, 05:39 PM
If you want him up in three days I would suggest a graze. An infection could help with your other symptoms and if your doctor is able to treat it, he could prevent it from getting horrible. Anything that goes into the cavity though is going to be a pretty heavy recovery time and need major surgery as said above. Also it is going to be absolutely excruciating. If the bullet doesn't hit the stomach or major organ they could exist for up to 30 something hours in absolute agony. From what I've read a gut shot is about the worst place to be shot.

meddyK
03-15-2010, 05:40 PM
If you want your character to be up in three days, then I agree with the posters above that an abdominal wound would have to be really superficial (just through the skin, muscle only); or you could try a wound in the thigh or something. But in that era infection was a huge risk. Hallucinations would make sense if they were getting very infected. they also might feel really woozy if given pain medications. Shock would probably feel more like lightheadedness and feeling of passing out if it's only due to blood loss.

gwendy85
03-15-2010, 05:56 PM
Hmmm.....I'm reading some very excellent points here. But there's a great need for me to use the abdomen, as opposed to thigh. I did consider that at first, but I can't have my character limping around for certain reasons in the plot.

So if the bullet just tore through a muscle at the side of the abdomen, hitting nothing important, would that cause enough blood loss to lose consciousness?

How about a graze to the head? (though I'm trying to avoid this, as this is also the same injury as another character's). He's running through this field, looks back, and is shot while running and is brought to the ground. A head wound, in my humble opinion, would definitely warrant hallucinations of dead people, right?

eurodan49
03-15-2010, 07:57 PM
Over its 50+ years of field employment, the Arisaka produced 9 types of the rifles.The most common were the 38 rifle (chambered for the 6.5x50mm cartridge), and the 99 rifle chambered for the 7.7x58mm. Both would have been in use during WW2. The 6.5 bullet had a flatter trajectory, higher speed and inflicted “clean” wounds. The 7.7 was a mess, as the heavier and slower bullet did considerable tearing of the body. A 6.5 round to the abdomen (if it didn’t hit major organs, stomach or blood vessel) could be survived—regardless, no one could move around 3 days later. Hit by a 7.7 you didn’t stand a chance. Once it hit, the bullet will rotate, tearing up everything in its path…. A real miracle would be the only way to survive it.
I would suggest a 6.5 hit to the shoulder… loss of blood, maybe unconsciousness, but recoverable in short time. Your man could also move around in 3 days.

gwendy85
03-17-2010, 08:44 AM
Over its 50+ years of field employment, the Arisaka produced 9 types of the rifles.The most common were the 38 rifle (chambered for the 6.5x50mm cartridge), and the 99 rifle chambered for the 7.7x58mm. Both would have been in use during WW2. The 6.5 bullet had a flatter trajectory, higher speed and inflicted “clean” wounds. The 7.7 was a mess, as the heavier and slower bullet did considerable tearing of the body. A 6.5 round to the abdomen (if it didn’t hit major organs, stomach or blood vessel) could be survived—regardless, no one could move around 3 days later. Hit by a 7.7 you didn’t stand a chance. Once it hit, the bullet will rotate, tearing up everything in its path…. A real miracle would be the only way to survive it.
I would suggest a 6.5 hit to the shoulder… loss of blood, maybe unconsciousness, but recoverable in short time. Your man could also move around in 3 days.

Wow! Thanks so much for all these detail on the bullet and weapon! I think I'll definitely go with the 38 rifle.

A shoulder wound? Then, my protagonist won't be able to use his arm much...which he will need to in the near future. Back to abdominal wounds, how long do you suppose it will be before my character can walk around? Will a week suffice?

eurodan49
03-17-2010, 09:25 AM
The chances for any bullet hitting someone’s abdomen and not killing him (without proper surgery) would be less than 10%. Of that, 1% would be a miracle and 9% would be a peripherycal wound, the bullet just grazing, not entering. Such wound would be superficial (not much blood loss, definitely not incapacitated) and he could move around next minute. The human body is packed with organs, blood vessels, bones and muscles. Nobody shot with a high power rifle would move around (like nothing happened) a week later, regardless where he was hit (unless just grazed). A head graze could knock him unconscious for 5 min to over an hour, but not much side effects (besides a headache).
Sorry, what you want is not possible. A hit in lower or upper limbs would reduce his movement and he could regain it (90%) in about 2 weeks. Abdominal hit, real messy stuff. Torso? Well, depends what gets hit. Look up a human body chart and decide for yourself. What might work is: a hand grenade (the Jap T-97, grooved iron pineapple). Close enough so concussion does most damage, a few fragments brush different parts of his body (but luckily, nothing major)… something like that would keep him of his feet for a day or so, couple more to full recovery.
Good luck.

Nivarion
03-17-2010, 10:41 AM
Wow! Thanks so much for all these detail on the bullet and weapon! I think I'll definitely go with the 38 rifle.

A shoulder wound? Then, my protagonist won't be able to use his arm much...which he will need to in the near future. Back to abdominal wounds, how long do you suppose it will be before my character can walk around? Will a week suffice?

Chances of surviving a gun wound at all are a miracle.

When a bullet passes through your body, it shoves everything besides it away with amazing force. This is the hydrostatic shock factor.

Bullets do three types of damage to the body. Penetration, Crush (also called tear) and Hydrostatic. The hydrostatic puts you down, crush kills you. Penetration decides how much gets damaged.

The problem with an abdominal shot is that everything inside is soft and squishy. The hydrostatic has a hey day in there.

And stuff in there can't afford to be smashed against the abdominal wall.

I'm going to recommend the hand grenade as well.

Also. I've only ever had one major abdominal injury. I fell on my bike when I was 12. The handlebars turned up and nearly impaled me. I got a hernia from it.

I couldn't walk, turn bend jump or move my arms without major pain. An abdominal wound would really be a bad idea.

you can have him shot through the nose. That'll put him out, and make him bleed badly but not require major surgery or a miracle to survive. :D and the scar would be impressive.

Stanmiller
03-17-2010, 08:17 PM
I see eurodan jumped with a discussion of the pros and cons of the two types and calibers of the Japanese Army issue Arisaka. He did a good job summarizing the wound characteristics. I don't have anything to add to that.

Nivarion's description of the hydrostatic shock affect of modern rifle bullets in the stomach cavity is spot on. A full metal jacket bullet typically doesn't deform in soft tissue or muscle and generally passes straight through with little surrounding tissue damage. That doesn't apply to the squishy, liquid-filled items in the stomach cavity as described.

Your story sounds like it's set in the Philippines. IMO, any major abdominal cavity wound in that climate and era would be fatal. In WW2, all a combat medic could do would be to sprinkle sulfa powder over the wound in a faint hope of preventing infection, maybe slap a pressure bandage on it, hit the guy with some morphine, mark the dosage on the guy's forehead and leave him for the jeep.

Soldiers with non-ambulatory wounds lay where they fell until medics came around and loaded them on a jeep and carried them to a field hospital. That could take hours to days.

That happened to my uncle. Took a round through the helmet on Tarawa. (A spent round from an Arisaka M38, in fact. It penetrated the helmet and deflected off the skull, tearing a groove across the top of his head.) His squad left him for dead, what with all the blood from the scalp laceration. Medics coming through a day later checked him for pulse (not really expecting to find anything) then piled him in a jeep. He woke up on the way to the field aid station. Always said his Irish luck and thickheadedness kept him alive.

The medical evacuations we take for granted today didn't come in until Korea, when the helicopter became generally available.

A shot through the muscles (fat?) alongside the stomach cavity will cause enough incapacitation for your purposes. He'd be ambulatory, able to self-treat sufficiently to survive long enough for medical attention. At least two weeks before any moderate activity, or he'd tear the wound open. Which could be a plot point in itself.

As usual, take what you need, cut the rest up for bandages.

--Stan :evil

TomMcClaren
02-23-2015, 11:39 PM
This entire conversation has been so helpful with my current book! Thanks everyone.