View Full Version : Stabbed in the chest - what's it feel like?

03-31-2013, 06:39 PM
One of my characters is having a bad day on the battlefield - he's on foot, encountering several mounted opponents, and while he's defending himself against one, another stabs him with a sword in the side through the armhole of his cuirass. That's pretty much the end of the battle for him.

It's a bad wound, from which he will in time recover. I don't need any information on the actual medical side of things.

But since he is a POV character, I am curious to know what it will feel like for him:
-- at the time he's injured
-- a few hours later (he hasn't moved very far by the time the battle's over & people go looking for him)
-- a few days later (the setting is pre-modern, so treatment consists mostly of letting nature take its course, with bandages).

03-31-2013, 06:43 PM

03-31-2013, 07:49 PM
Have you ever stepped on a nail, got a papercut, had some other cut/puncture injury? I'd say it probably feels like that only way worse.

03-31-2013, 08:04 PM
If he's hyped up on enough adrenaline, he may not even notice the wound at first. It may not hurt. At first. He may even be able to fight on for a while. Or he may go down and it may start hurting straightaway. He may lose consciousness.

Probably it'll hurt more when he moves or breathes. It could be like a wall of pain that his chest 'meets' every time he tries to breathe, leading him to take more, shallower breaths. If you've ever pulled a muscle in your back, you'll know what that's like.

People whose first-hand accounts of being stabbed I've read often say it feels like being punched. Possibly because they've been punched before but not stabbed.

I imagine he'd be in a lot of pain for a long time. A sort of deep ache, not the sharp pain you get from trivial injuries. Then, as it heals, it'll itch. God will it itch.

03-31-2013, 08:31 PM
It might inhibit movement - I had a chest injury just over a year ago, not a stab, but boy did it hurt! I couldn't move my left arm without wincing and breathing at times was a tad painful. The bruising was awful and took nearly six months to go, and it hurt.

Buffysquirrel is right about the itching. It takes a lot of self control not to scratch and knock the scab off.

04-01-2013, 12:54 AM
Oh yeah totally right on the itching. I had a heart operation at age 6. The itching FINALLY started to subside when I was 30 or so. And I mean subside, not go away. Any new bra could abrade the scar and send it into itch frenzy all over again.

Still happens on occasion and I'm about to be 50 now.

ETA: As a female, a heart op scar is precisely on the line of where a bra sits. My scar goes from the center of my back under my shoulderbone and between ribs which as I get it (you don't think I was awake for this or they consulted me, right?) they pried open to get to my heart. The scar continues under my left breast to just before it would have bisected the center of my breastbone.

It does make a great story point at least.

Took me about 20 years to not be embarrassed of the scar and realize it was a war wound to be proud of.

Actually my appendix scar is far more hideous and disfiguring. (That was before they figured out how to do it right and seemingly used broken bottles to operate with.)

04-01-2013, 03:12 AM
Gosh, there appears to be some metal in my chest whereas mere moments ago there was none. I suspect this large chunk of hammer-forged steel does not belong amidst my organs what are on the inside, rather it is best kept far away from them at all times.

One wonders if the chilly lump is more disconcerting or if its the burning of my viscera parting to allow entry of said metallic prong. I suppose time will tell as to which I prefer least though I'm right now erring on the side of the ripping sensation as mine own vitals do get chopped and punctured by this most forceful blade.

Let us hope this blackguard does not intend on making a habit of introducing me to his weapon, I fear more blows of this type would be injurious to my health and result in me partaking in the sleep of ages far sooner than I had planned. Now wherefore did I leave that chirurgeon, I have needs of their skill. It is desperately hoped that a good bleeding via some friendly leeches will help reduce the bad humors introduced by said sword into my self.

04-01-2013, 12:15 PM
BDSempire, you rock! LOVE the leech part. Frightening that people actually did think that the cure for being stabbed and bleeding was...more bleeding.

Really makes you wonder. Did they actually think blood was a limitless resource? Seems that since part of butchering a chicken/pig/cow/deer is bleeding it out, they would have copped to this rather obvious clue. And the folks in those days were a heck of a lot closer to the origins of their food than we are today.

04-01-2013, 05:47 PM
But bleeding makes sense as a treatment if you accept (as most people did before the 17-18c, & some people did even later) that sickness & physical symptoms were caused by an imbalance in the humors. Fever = too much heat in the body, and it was established that heat was a product of blood, so fever meant there was probably an excess of blood that had to be dealt with, & bleeding was the most direct way to do it. Since fever & inflammation often accompany injuries (even if they're not infected), well, QED. A surgeon did what he had to do...