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OneWriter
01-17-2011, 08:58 PM
So, I had a character shot dead in my first chapter. I have to do some reshuffling things around, and instead of killing this guy (a cop), I'm going to wound him. Therefore, I need a gunshot wound that impairs the victim for a few weeks. In another thread it was discussed that gunshot wounds don't hurt right away, and that even a bullet through the heart gives you a few minutes of action before you keel over and die. Is that true for a bullet through the chest/guts as well?

Here's what I need:

the guy is shot, staggers back and keels over, looking pretty much dead; he's not dead, though; the EMTs come, rush him to the hospital, he undergoes surgery, and recovers (as in back to duty) in six weeks.

Questions: (1) what damage would the bullet do (including where would it hit) in order to have that kind of scenario?
(2) what would the guy feel after six weeks? shooting pain when he attempts certain movements? what kind of side-effects?

Thanks!!

Cyia
01-17-2011, 09:08 PM
6-8 weeks is a long recovery time for a shoulder shot. He'd be out of the hospital in less than a week, and maybe on desk duty for a while, but he wouldn't be down for over a month.

Any gunshot can stagger someone from the force. If you want something more serious, then a shot to the gut, that miraculously misses the major arteries / organs would be better. Lots of blood. The best case scenario would be a shot straight through only skin / muscle tissue. You've got a lot of closely packed vital stuff in that area, especially the abdominal aorta.

You could even do a glancing shot off the head (like a near miss) that knocks your guy cold, but he'd still be out of the hospital pretty quick.

If he gets shot in the arm, and it nicks his brachial artery, the blood loss could require hospitalization (only a nick or a clip. Actually sever it or cut into it completely and he's dead.) Blood loss / transfusion could increase the hospital time, but not by weeks.

OneWriter
01-17-2011, 09:12 PM
6-8 weeks is a long recovery time for a shoulder shot. He'd be out of the hospital in less than a week, and maybe on desk duty for a while, but he wouldn't be down for over a month.

Any gunshot can stagger someone from the force. If you want something more serious, then a shot to the gut, that miraculously misses the major arteries / organs would be better. Lots of blood. The best case scenario would be a shot straight through only skin / muscle tissue. You've got a lot of closely packed vital stuff in that area, especially the abdominal aorta.

You could even do a glancing shot off the head (like a near miss) that knocks your guy cold, but he'd still be out of the hospital pretty quick.

If he gets shot in the arm, and it nicks his brachial artery, the blood loss could require hospitalization (only a nick or a clip. Actually sever it or cut into it completely and he's dead.) Blood loss / transfusion could increase the hospital time, but not by weeks.

A-ha, thanks! (Tells you how little I know about this stuff!!)
Okay, re-direct then. Let's do something that will bring him back to duty in six weeks: bullet goes through the guts. Can you give me some more medical details? You tell me: what could it miss? How would he feel when he comes back?

Thanks so much, reppies coming your way!! :)

Kathie Freeman
01-17-2011, 09:56 PM
It all depends on what happens to the bullet after it enters the front of the shoulder. (you are shooting from the front, right?) If it goes straight through it will likely fracture the scapula, which may or may not put him out of service for your 6-8 weeks. If on the other hand it bounces off the scapula into the torso it could go anywhere, and I do mean anywhere. In that case, all bets are off. In either case, the pain could last for months, if not years.

Cyia
01-17-2011, 10:12 PM
*not a doctor, but from the bit I found on GSW's for my own use*

Wounds in the abdomen are nasty business. They can cause bleed outs and sepsis / abscess in the hospital isn't too uncommon.

You've got all of the bowels in there - large and small intestine - and shrapnel in that area is never a good thing. The stomach is there. The liver. The kidneys are close enough to be struck, depending on the entry point and angle.

The abdominal aorta can bleed out in less than a minute.

sheadakota
01-17-2011, 11:26 PM
So, I had a character shot dead in my first chapter. I have to do some reshuffling things around, and instead of killing this guy (a cop), I'm going to wound him. Therefore, I need a gunshot wound that impairs the victim for a few weeks. In another thread it was discussed that gunshot wounds don't hurt right away, and that even a bullet through the heart gives you a few minutes of action before you keel over and die. Is that true for a bullet through the chest/guts as well?

Here's what I need:

the guy is shot, staggers back and keels over, looking pretty much dead; he's not dead, though; the EMTs come, rush him to the hospital, he undergoes surgery, and recovers (as in back to duty) in six weeks.

Questions: (1) what damage would the bullet do (including where would it hit) in order to have that kind of scenario?
(2) what would the guy feel after six weeks? shooting pain when he attempts certain movements? what kind of side-effects?

Thanks!!
If the bullet hits him in the chest it could be a through and through that hits a lung, but nothing else major- this would require surgery and the placement of a chest tube to reinflate the lung and a stay in ICU- the shock wave from the bullet as it passes through the body will cause inflamation to the surrounding area causeing concern with breathing which will probablt require your guy to be on a ventilator for awhile- he could be awake but hurting during this.
Six weeks is plausable considering how easy complications can occur with this type of injury- particularly pulmanary complications-
he would gradually be moved from the ICU setting and to a step down unit and then finally to a med surg floor - his chest tube would be removed when the drainage stops and a CXR reveals that the lung has recoverered, but his respiratory status would be watched closely.

He would be hurting- chest tubes are the size of garden hoses- nothing delicate or painless about them- he would be weak from the inactivity and trauma and stiff and sore at the surgical site (under his arm down by his ribs) but he would be encouraged to get up move and walk- he's not going to want to but he has too.

No lingering side effects- but it is going to take awhile for him to get back up to speed again - of course the better shape he is in before the shooting the easy it will be for him to recover-

Hope that helps :)

Chase
01-18-2011, 03:44 AM
You might follow the shooting of the Arizona congresswoman, since the details of her recovery are national news. The evil coward shot her through the head with a 9mm Luger bullet.

GregS
01-18-2011, 08:06 PM
A few other things to keep in mind.

First, just because someone "can" survive/function for seconds or minutes (or even hours or days) after a GSW doesn't mean they automatically will. Things like shock and pain are relative and unpredictable, so you're within your rights to have your character react as strongly as you need.

Some people get shot and carry on until their body stops working. Some shut down immediately like they're in a bad spaghetti western. Some feel the pain and go fetal, crying and screaming. Some don't notice until the adrenaline wears off later that night.

By way of purely scientific example, you could take a look at the book Stopping Power by Evan Marshall. It's actually a study on wound dynamics of ammunition, but one of the things they do is determine, by percentage, how frequently a torso hit becomes a one-shot stops (meaning the bad guy ceases all hostilities). Percentages range from high nineties to low twenties, depending on a number of factors.

And in terms of keeping him down, you can get as graphic as you want, but don't feel the need to go overboard to explain it. Depending on what type of round the wound comes from, how it creates cavities in the body, and what internal organs it hits, it's entirely feasible for your character to spend hours in surgery--with varying degrees of his abdominal muscles cut open or, in a severe case, even his ribs cracked apart. That can take a very long time to recover from.

Even a shoulder wound can be horribly traumatic if the hit is from a large enough caliber and does enough damage to the bone/joint. I know a guy who took a round into the socket that tore up a number of tendons and chipped the bones all to hell. He's had two surgeries to repair it so far and spent a ton of time in physical therapy.

Additionally, don't discount the emotional effects of a GSW on your boy. Just because he's a cop doesn't mean he's going to buck up and carry on like nothing ever happened. His life was in danger. He (if you want) almost died, felt himself go cold bleeding out on the concrete, spent hours in surgery, weeks in recovery, had his mobility permanently effected, had to come face to face with his terrified wife/children after the event, has reoccurring nightmares about the perp who shot him, has lost faith in his abilities/partner/equipment, is now jumpy around gunfire, etc., etc.

And all that can take him out of the game for as long as you want. Remember, it's not like you see in the movies, and not everyone is well equipped to deal with it.

OneWriter
01-18-2011, 08:29 PM
Great suggestions, thank you! :)