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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » On Getting Shot...

   
Author Topic: On Getting Shot...
ChrisOwens
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Here's a question. Suppose your shot in the leg. The wound is "magically" healed around it but the bullet is not removed.

How would it feel?
How would it affect walking?
Once it is removed, what does it look like? Is it pretty much flattened?


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mikemunsil
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What kind of bullet is it? silver?
lead jacketed with copper? hollow-tip? ball? minie-ball? fragmenting? tracer?

What calibre? What grain?

How far away was the shooter?

What was it shot from?

Did the bullet hit bone?

Was the bullet tumbling when it hit?

What is the ground-speed of a fully-laden sparrow?


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Robyn_Hood
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An African sparrow or English sparrow? Or was it swallows?
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NewsBys
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I would think that even though the wound is healed, if the bullet is rubbing against bone or a joint, or if it is lodged in a muscle it would cause either pain or loss of movement in that area.

I have heard stories about people who have foreign objects left in thier bodies from accidents, etc. Sometimes the items work themselves out.

On CSI, when they remove the bullets from bodies, they are sort of flattened on the tips. I bet it would depend on the type of ammo.


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Josh Leone
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If the bullet is surrounded by soft tissue and is firmly lodged, you might not feel anything at all if the wound is well healed. Even today some shooting victims carry the bullet in them long after the wound itself has healed.

On the other hand, if the bullet is near a joint or against bone, then it could be very painful indeed.

The real question is would the bullet stick or just pass right on through the victim?

[This message has been edited by Josh Leone (edited March 29, 2005).]


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HSO
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quote:
An African sparrow or English sparrow? Or was it swallows?

Swallows.

One of my all-time favorite movies. Thanks for making me smile, Robyn.


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Jaina
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European swallows, to be preicse. African swallows are non-migratory.

But Mike has an excellent point. Some ammuntion goes straight through a victim and does very little damage (comparatively). Some ammo, though, is designed to spread out on impact, making the wound bigger, more painful, and more dangerous. And the gun itself probably would matter, both because of its projection abilities and the ammunition limits each weapon has.

So, basically, we need to know more before we can really help you.

Just out of curiosity, why do you ask? (I'm assuming it's for a story, but...)


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Robyn_Hood
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You're welcome HSO

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited March 29, 2005).]


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HSO
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For those unlikely few who don't know about European and African swallows, go here, scene 1:

http://www.rit.edu/~smo4215/monty.htm


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RavenStarr
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Ok... how deep is the bullet? Is it in the muscle, rubbing against the bone...?
Try to imagine the size of it in your head (I’m assuming that it's still whole, otherwise, it did a lot more damage). Have you ever actually seen a bullet up close before?
http://images.google.com/images?q=bullets&hl=en&lr=&sa=N&tab=wi
That small little balled, pointed, or hollowed part is the part that actually shoots out and hits you... picture that size...
If this wound is completely healed, then all you should really need to do is picture what it would feel like to have a small hard splinter lodged in your leg...

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ChrisOwens
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Wow. I didn't expect this many answers this quick.

The answers to the questions is another question, what would it take for something to occur in line with what Josh has said, namely, "If the bullet is surrounded by soft tissue and is firmly lodged, you might not feel anything at all if the wound is well healed"

And what kind of gun and bullet would it take to stick instead of passing through?

In the story so far, the POV character just sees a handgun. In time he decides to make a run for it, and the bad guy shoots him in the leg from behind...


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Robyn_Hood
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quote:
For those unlikely few who don't know about European and African swallows, go here, scene 1.

Don't forget to follow it up by reading scene 23.


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ChrisOwens
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Get on with it!
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Robyn_Hood
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Sure, make me feel guilty for perpetuating a tangent

Oh well, I've spent the last little while Googling various forms of "Penetrating Gunshot Wounds". I haven't been able to come up with anything, but tomorrow I'll try to remember to see what I can come up with on Altavista and NorthernLights.


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RavenStarr
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"what would it take for something to occur in line with what Josh has said, namely, "If the bullet is surrounded by soft tissue and is firmly lodged, you might not feel anything at all if the wound is well healed""

That gets into medical now. That depends on how it heals and/or where the bullet is. If it heals enough where the nerves aren't being so completely obstructed that they can't compensate enough for the changes, then you'll feel it (which is the most common case). But then if it heals in a way where the nerves can compensate almost entirely, then... well... you might forget you were ever shot (watch Ripley’s once in a while, you'll hear about stuff like that all the time). This all depends on many different factors, most are not all that easily determined... sometimes it's just a complete fluke...

"And what kind of gun and bullet would it take to stick instead of passing through?"

Well… you have:
The .45 cal
http://tri.army.mil/LC/CS/csi/m1911a1.jpg

9mm (the usual military and law enforcement standard in pistols)
http://www.noda-ya.com/sinseihin/4sin0316/9mm.jpg

.38 Special
http://www.a-human-right.com/RKBA/_lifesaver.jpg

And the chart of their rounds
http://www.civil-defence.org/products/ballistics/photos/bullets/bullets_l.gif

All of those can actually follow in your scenario, it all depends on a lot of different factors of ballistic information... distance, angle, wind, etc (taking into consideration the amount of tissue in the leg)... fair to say... there's enough factors that all goes into it, that you could pretty much just pick the "pretty gun" and no one would find any reason to question what you say it happened to do. I'd probably just go with a .45 cal though...

[This message has been edited by RavenStarr (edited March 29, 2005).]


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mikemunsil
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quote:
In the story so far, the POV character just sees a handgun. In time he decides to make a run for it, and the bad guy shoots him in the leg from behind...

OK, that gives something to start with. Since it's not the wild west for the guy to hit him at all with a handgun, he's probably within 25 yards.

That means it is unlikely that the bullet would stay within the leg unless it hit a bone.

That hurts. A LOT, and even if the wound is immediately magically healed he might go into shock. At the least, I would expect him to hit the ground long enough for the bad guy to get close enough to pump some more bullets into him.

If the bullet hits soft tissue at that distance, it is likely to pass completely through. If the wound is immediately magically healed I would expect hime to stumble a bit, then take off like a scalded cat.


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Elan
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Just a suggestion, if you have the stomach for it, do a Google Image search and use the keywords "gunshot" and "wound". It will give you some pretty graphic ideas of what will happen to flesh. Not all gunshot wounds will rip your limbs apart, of course.

I was once driving down the freeway (for MaryRobinette's sake, coming out of the Vista Ridge tunnel onto 405) and in one of those freak encounters saw a man limping off into the bushes with his hand on his leg and a bright red spot on his pants. As I came through the underpass and up onto the freeway I saw a cop car parked to the side of the road and an officer standing there with a gun drawn, pointed at the guy. It occurred to me the man had just been shot, and was still trying to escape. I don't know if that helps your writing vignette any, but it's an illustration that even with a gunshot wound to the thigh, the guy could still walk... as long as you don't sever an artery or shatter the bone...

isn't it amazing what we have to research as writers? I sometimes think I spend half my alloted free time to write doing freakin' research!


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ScottMiller
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This isn't quite germane to the topic, but it might help your thinking.

Several years ago I had a bad fall when climbing around some rocks at a park and did a pretty good number on my left hand. Some of the dirt and gravel got embedded into the tissue and ended up healing in there.

Now, this is soft tissue and muscle on the palm of my hand, and it isn't near any major connections or anything, but from time to time (maybe once or twice a year) it hurts like blazes for a few minutes, and we're talking ten years on from the incident. Even if the pain is psychosomatic it's still an occasional annoyance.

I imagine a bullet wound would be similar, but, of course, much worse.


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NewsBys
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How about like a .22 or a musketball. Might one of those get lodged in tissue? Seems believable to me.
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Survivor
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Anything can get lodged in tissue if it loses enough energy first. If this encounter takes place in an alley, for instance, he could be a hundred yards away and still get winged by a ricochet. That wouldn't go through nor would it have any real "stopping power" if the weapon was a conventional handgun.

A key factor in whether you go into shock is whether you get hit by the first shot fired at you or a later shot. Once someone starts shooting at you, your body reacts in some important ways that make you faster, stronger, and somewhat impervious to minor injury. If you get hit by a bullet a few seconds after the first shots are fired, and you're already running, you may not feel even a very serious (like, fatal) wound. Of course, if the bullet blew off your leg, then you'd notice that, but it still might not hurt much before you died.

So that's my answer. Your guy starts running away, gunman yells and fires a few shots, on the fourth or fifth shot he basically gets lucky and bounces a round into your guy. Your guy probably notices this, but he's too scared of dying to worry about being hit in the leg. He may or may not be aware that it was a ricochet, you can leave some details realistically fuzzy.

A wooded scene might work as well or better. It would be more realistic to try outrunning an armed pursuit if there were a lot of trees and stuff, and bullets can be slowed down by hitting branches and stuff just as much as by bouncing off walls.

If the scenario is open terrain and a hit on the first shot, then the gun has to be pretty darn weak. A .22 pistol would fit the bill. The bullets are often slow and inaccurate because the round is actually designed to be fired from a rifle barrel, whereas .22 pistols often have barrels only a couple of inches long, so most of the energy is wasted since much of the powder burns after the bullet has already left the barrel.

As for what the bullet looks like, that depends. Various bullets are designed to do different things. Events between the bullet leaving the barrel of the gun and hitting the target can make a big difference too. If this thing is going to cause a non-catastrophic wound, though, then entering the guy's leg shouldn't affect it that much.

The biggest thing, though, is that the wound is healed "magically". I don't know what you mean by saying that, but once you heal the wound magically, all bets are off. The guy's muscle tissue could be "magically" bulletproof so that penetration would be superficial. His subcutaneous fat could be "magically" cushiony so that even with a bullet lodged in there he'd feel nary a twinge of discomfort. His skin could be "magically" hot so that the bullet would have melted and reformed into a dull spheroid.

Once you say that the wound has healed "magically" then that can do pretty much anything you want to the bullet.

Or not.


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ChrisOwens
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<I don't know what you mean by saying that, but once you heal the wound magically, all bets are off.>

The viewpoint character is so terrified by what he sees, he forgets all about the gun and bolts. It's an open field. When he's shot, he falls.

The viewpoint character does not effect the healing, the bad guys arrange it, perhaps fifteen, twenty minutes later.


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RavenStarr
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Um... maybe I'm reading that wrong or something, but... that just confused the crap out of me... maybe I need to read the story to follow... I don't know... my brain hurts...
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Survivor
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In that case, all bets are definitely off. It's pretty hard to remove a bullet from yourself, but if you're able to heal gross tissue damage, then removing a bullet from someone else while that person's unconscious is a piece of cake. Particularly if you're talking about a leg. I mean, if the bullet were inside the cranium or nestled in amongst the heart and lungs, I could see healing the surface and just leaving the bullet (though I wouldn't do that myself unless I were in a tearing hurry), but anywhere in the leg I'd do whatever cutting was necessary to remove the evidence before healing it over.

See, at this point you're talking about motive for the bad guys to leave something in the wound. It could be the bullet, it could be a dragon's tooth, it could be a piece of tasty candy. All bets are totally off.


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Robyn_Hood
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Survivor's comment about a motive for leaving the bullet in the wound made me think of a few things.

1) Perhaps the bullet has something about it that would allow the bad guys to track the POV character.

2) Not knowing he has a bullet in his leg could cause problems for POV-C when going through metal detectors at airports or security check points.

3) If the bullet is lead, there is a potential for lead poisoning. POV-C mysteriously starts losing his hair and he starts going blind (not sure if those symptoms would actually present from just one bullet; more likely to experience blood poisoning, I think).


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ChrisOwens
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The bullet is left there cause the bad guy's "servants" who heal him are sometimes like the electrician on that episode of Seinfeld. They're the best... and the worst...

They're obedient to a fault. They're told, 'See that he lives', and they heal the protagaonist without removing the bullet.

Later, one of the bad guys will have a change of heart, and extract the bullet by "magical" means and find an unexpected use for it.

Call it fate, or happenstance...

[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited March 30, 2005).]


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MaryRobinette
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I'm bumping this to ask if anyone has actually been shot before? If so, what does the impact feel like?
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Miriel
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Tossing in my two cents along the same lines as ScottMiller up above.

Haven't been shot, but I do have a large chunk of graphite logded in my finger from a second-grade accident with a pencil. It doesn't ever hurt, but you can see it below the skin. If a bullet wound was healed over near the surface of the skin...I'd imagine you'd be able to see it, too. Oh, and the tissues and whatnot healed around it in a manner so that I can't feel the lump at all. Maybe that's just because it's on the side of a calloused fingertip. I hope some of that is remotely helpful.


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Survivor
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It depends. I already mentioned that, but it bears repeating. I'll also mention that I don't feel like saying whether and under what circumstances I might have been shot. Obviously, I've never been shot in a vital area with a large caliber weapon. I've also never been shot by anyone that really wanted to hit me.

Generally speaking, it feels like getting hit with a hammer. How big a hammer and how hard depend on the type of weapon and round. Usually you won't feel the kind of stinging associated with a penetrating wound, the nerves that report piercing/penetration don't tend to survive long enough to report much of anything during the initial event.

In other words, the initial impact simply feels like an impact

But if a round hits you at a low enough velocity you can feel the sensation of being cut/pierced. So it all depends. As per above, you might not even feel it at all.

By the way, Miriel, if you can see it, why don't you try cutting it out?


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MCameron
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quote:
By the way, Miriel, if you can see it, why don't you try cutting it out?

*shudder*

You know, I usually don't have a problem cutting out splinters or other things of that nature...but not something that has already healed over.

I also have a piece of graphite imbedded in my hand from a pencil accident in second grade. Mine happens to be in the middle of my palm, though. Considering that it causes few problems (it aches if I cough really deeply, strange I know), I'm not willing to go through the pain of cutting it out. If it causes major problems, a doctor can do it under local anesthesia.

Oh, and I've never been shot. Sorry for helping to derail the thread.

--Mel


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Miriel
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...but it doesn't hurt any, and if I ever really, really need a piece of graphite, I'll have one. And I've had it longer than most friends. You grow fond of things like that. It also makes a good story when you're babysitting little children who inevitably think it's really cool or really gross.
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Survivor
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Okay, now your story has officially moved from "kinda gross" to "really creepy".
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Survivor
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By the way, I don't hate that. One of my family members described the scene of a recent joyous occasion as looking like a pool of "red kool-aid". The description was a little gross, the connection to kool-aid was rather creepy. Still, I don't hate that.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Never been shot, but I did step on a nail as a kid.

I'd guess that being shot, as Survivor has said, would be like being hit extremely hard.

I didn't feel any piercing/penetrating pain at first, just pressure. Even when I pulled the nail out, it didn't hurt, per se. Only when my eyes told my brain what my nerves were trying to signal to it, did I realize what had happened and I started to feel pain.

It was still a pressure/achy kind of pain, though. Not a cut/slash/stab kind of pain. I suspect that the nerves that send cut/slash pain to the brain are fairly close to the surface of the skin. Deeper nerves would send different kinds of pain signals.


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NMgal
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Never been shot, but I've seen gun shot wounds. The lip of the wound is red if it's healthy, nasty if it's infected (won't go into details in case someone's eating while they're reading this). Also, depending on where the bullet ends up, you may also see tendons (shiny and white) or bone. If it doesn't go through a leg, it most likely has been stopped by bone. It will hurt a lot, and it will be a deep, boring (as in driving), severe ache. Even when the bullet is long gone, there will be reminders, especially in inclement weather (an old wive's tale I've found to be consistent). It may have even shattered the bone, which indicates surgery and a long recovery. But if one of your characters uses magic to extract the bullet, he can probably also make sure your main character doesn't suffer. That would be the nice thing to do, anyway.
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