It was a hectic Thursday a couple weeks ago, one in which I was grateful for the expertise of Dr. Peter and Dr. Dave, as we handled some challenging cases. The case that got my attention, and that I think will interest you, was the guy who got shot in the face…
Just down the road a spell, couple miles, there is the community of San Luis. There’s a pretty decent soccer field to the North of the main road where I often see teenagers playing futbol (soccer), or free-range brahma cows milling about, lounging under the canopy. On Sundays there are some organized games that go on, young men wearing bright uniforms competing, and townsfolk enjoying the event on the sidelines.
Right across the road from this field is a bar and pool house. And it’s from this unsavory establishment that our future patient apparently stumbled. It’s not clear exactly how the confrontation went down, but ‘Pablo’ was drunk beyond coherency. It’s said that he was tongue-lashing another fellow, which turned out to be the wrong dude to mess with. Because this Muchacho proceeded to pop him in the face with a .22 pistol and leave him for dead.
We all converged on his bed in the ER, Peter directing traffic and Dave using his Military trauma surgery experience to make the quick assessment that “shot-directly-in-the-face” comes with a bad prognosis. To confound matters, Pablo was so drunk that it was difficult to tell if he was unconscious due to a bullet shredding his white matter, or because he drank too many ‘Salva Vida’s (the Honduran beer of choice, literally translated means ‘Lifesaver.–how ironic).
The entry wound was just below his left eye, the small hole within his lower eyelid. The eye was bulging and unresponsive to light, or even the less-scientific-but-more-practical jabbing with a gloved finger test. Peter relieved the pressure of the hematoma by cutting open the outside of his eyelid, which would later prove to have saved the eye. But at the moment, we believed that the bullet had passed through the globe, not to mention his brain.
X-rays were done and we monitored his vital signs, which remarkably stayed stable despite our belief that a bullet had ‘un-brained’ him. The X-rays demonstrated the bullet lodged in the soft tissue of the back of his neck. Somehow, this bullet went through the bones of his face, missed his eye, his brain, his spine and spinal cord, all significant blood vessels and nerves, and probably some other anatomical parts I’ve forgotten since med school. This is what we refer to in medicine as ‘a miracle,’ a doctory-techno-jargon term.
The next morning, Pablo was hungry and asking for breakfast. His vision was perfect. His mentation, normal. He was able to solve the Rubik’s cube in 84 seconds. He then performed advance calculus derivatives, and started reading War and Peace. The point is, he was fine. His dad was sitting there, as amazed as we were. We discussed the miracle, and that this was another opportunity given to Pablo from the Lord to change his life. His dad certainly recognized the significance of the event, and was hopeful for his ‘boy’ (he was in his 20’s). We had Oscar (one of our Honduran pastors) come pray with him, and encourage him in sobriety.
Let’s pray for this kid, that he realizes the second chance he has been given, and allows God to transform him.
(In the accompanying X-ray, that white spot behind his neck is the bullet.)