Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Nail in the Coffin

When I was seven I met a kid named Adam. He moved at 97 mph and never stopped. I always admired his energy, especially in high school track where he could run the 800m faster than I could dream. Nothing stopped him. Not even a nail shot through his head. One day out working construction with his brother, he was climbing up a ladder. The man above him was climbing with a nail gun. While the man was ascending, the gun bumped a ladder rung and discharged a nail down into Adam's head.

Adam climbed off the ladder and felt the top of his head. Nothing. Just a little scratch where the nail presumably ricocheted off. But just to be sure, they went to the ER and took a plain film of his head. And there, smack dab inside his temporal lobe floated the nail. I saw that plain film in Safford, AZ, where a technician showed me. Amazing picture. Amazing luck.

Surgeons removed the nail and Adam continued his life, racing around high school and track like his normal self. I've always remembered that story and thought how extremely lucky he was. In fact, he was the luckiest person I knew...until now.

Today in the reading room with the radiologists, we pulled up the images of a local Tucson man. He was pruning his garden when he dropped his shears. The sharp edge wedged into the ground, with the handles (blunt end) pointing to the sun. He bent down to pick them up and tripped right on top of them. Amazingly the handle penetrated under his eye ball and down into his face, all the way into his neck until it rested on his carotid artery. And there it rested, bumping with every beat of his heart.

Surgeons removed the shears and today he has made a full recovery. Sorry Adam, you've been trumped by an 87 year-old gardener.