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katiemac
01-10-2006, 10:34 PM
I've asked some similiar questions in the past, but I'm really trying to work out the nitty-gritty details for a final draft.

I've got a character who gets shot in the shoulder, and the bullet is removed with technology similiar to what would have been available in the Civil War. The wound would be cared for in the same way.

Now, I've contemplated moving the place of injury to his upper arm instead.

Basically, I'm looking at recovery time for both injuries (shoulder wound and arm wound). The character needs to be up and running at least a few days afterward, not in perfect shape, but healthy enough. Initially, right after the shot, the character needs to do some walking (not much) to get to help. From what I understand, neither shot would be dehabilitating. Also, what amount of blood loss can be expected? Enough to cause shock, dizziness, fainting, etc.?

These and any other points you feel I'm missing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Jamesaritchie
01-10-2006, 11:26 PM
I've asked some similiar questions in the past, but I'm really trying to work out the nitty-gritty details for a final draft.

I've got a character who gets shot in the shoulder, and the bullet is removed with technology similiar to what would have been available in the Civil War. The wound would be cared for in the same way.

Now, I've contemplated moving the place of injury to his upper arm instead.

Basically, I'm looking at recovery time for both injuries (shoulder wound and arm wound). The character needs to be up and running at least a few days afterward, not in perfect shape, but healthy enough. Initially, right after the shot, the character needs to do some walking (not much) to get to help. From what I understand, neither shot would be dehabilitating. Also, what amount of blood loss can be expected? Enough to cause shock, dizziness, fainting, etc.?

These and any other points you feel I'm missing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Again, it all depends of what type of weapon he's shot with. In a way, weapons during Civl War times were more debilitating. Getting shot in the upper arm with a .40-50 caliber soft lead bullet usually means the arm is coming off. Getting shot in the shoulder means that guy may well die, and if he doesn't he won't be up and around for weeks.

katiemac
01-10-2006, 11:46 PM
Again, it all depends of what type of weapon he's shot with. In a way, weapons during Civl War times were more debilitating. Getting shot in the upper arm with a .40-50 caliber soft lead bullet usually means the arm is coming off. Getting shot in the shoulder means that guy may well die, and if he doesn't he won't be up and around for weeks.

Thanks, James. I knew I was forgetting something. The gun I've been modelling is based on a Colt .32 revolver, but it doesn't actually have to be that specific gun since I'm messing with time periods/places/etc. So, it has a 4" barrel and I've been told it's reasonably accurate up to 25 feet. The shot is coming from a distance (I was thinking around 30 feet), and the shooter (not an expert) was aiming elsewhere, for the heart. Would the extent of the injury make any difference if the shooter was, say, 100 feet away?

I'm definitely going to move the injury away from the shoulder, though. I'll try to work with an arm wound, assuming that's still realistic. Does a bullet that merely grazes his arm sound better?

DaveKuzminski
01-11-2006, 12:03 AM
Distance can certainly affect the severity, even to the point of the round being spent and just bouncing off. Caliber also affects the severity. So does muzzle velocity. A fast enough round can cauterize the wound it makes.

Also depends on where the victim is hit. Get a major blood vessel and you can guarantee in most instances that he'll be dead before any real medical attention can be reached, let alone given. Hit a bone and break it, you've got more problems.

Accuracy on your shooter's part isn't your real problem. There's a book with information about wounds that might be useful to you. Sorry, I don't have it nor do I know its title, but I do know it's out there. You might try an Internet search on writer's guide to wounds or something like that.

Cathy C
01-11-2006, 12:41 AM
One of the nice things about round balls is that sometimes they went straight through muscle tissue without too much damage to surrounding areas. There would be a hole, but the ball could push blood vessels without necessarily breaking them.

However, the Civil War was also a time of massive weapons experimentation which, combined with European War atrocities, resulted in the first international weapons treaty at St. Petersburg in 1868. There were exploding bullets, poison gas bullets, bullets that contained fragmented glass in the tip (to ensure that the enemy combatant died, because the surgeon often couldn't see the glass pieces in the wound.)

There were also advancements in medical treatment. Germs were a new and astounding thing discovered by Louis Pasteur in 1858. But doctors who came to believe in the ability of invisible living things to infect a wound learned to wash themselves and their patients. This saved many patients from losing limbs.

So, there are lots of things to play with during this time, depending on what you want to achieve. You can make the doctor who looks after the wound be a follower of Pasteur, who tends the wound well, or one who still believed that smearing fresh horse manure on the wound would help it heal (honest!) Your choice!

Hope that helps! :)

ColoradoGuy
01-11-2006, 08:40 AM
I agree with the other comments. As a physician with twenty-five years experience in the intensive care unit, I have seen most every sort of mayhem, planned and unplanned. The bottom line is that nearly anything is possible for your story because amazing things are commonplace. I have seen patients who had bullets traverse entirely through their bodies, pass within millimeters of vital structures, and miss them all. Just last month I cared for a teenager who was stabbed in the neck: the knife passed between his carotid artery and his jugular vein (aka big red and big blue) and behind his trachea (windpipe). He was fine. You couldn't replicate that if you tried a hundred times.

So you could have a bullet pass through your character's upper arm and do as little or as much damage as you like. If you want a lot, smash the bone and rip a hole in the brachial artery; if you want a little, have the bullet pass through the muscle only.

Folks also heal from injuries at unpredictable rates, even from the same injury. So you could have your character up and around in a few days if you like. If you want longer, make it an infected wound that takes weeks to months to heal completely. PM me if you would like to run a particular scenario by me.

katiemac
01-11-2006, 09:38 AM
Colorodo, I have taken you up on your kind offer and sent you a PM. :)

In searching Amazon for some helpful materials, I came across Murder & Mayhem (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0312309457/qid=1136956018/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-0076294-9495106?n=507846&s=books&v=glance)by D.P Lyle, MD. Has anyone used this book as a reliable source?

By the way, thank you everyone for the information so far -- as always, it has been both extremely helpful and enlightening.