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2017, June 25: Nailed

Doug Bergeson walked into the emergency room of the Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette, Wisconsin, on June 25, 2017, and asked a security guard if he could get a nurse or doctor for him; then Bergeson sat down and called his wife to ask her to bring him a new shirt from home, because he was pretty sure the one he was wearing was going to have to be cut off. He was frustrated because he figured he was going to get out of the hospital too late to work more on the fireplace frame he was constructing. And late he was; the hospital didn't let him go home for two days after they got a look at him. For Bergeson, you see, had accidentally shot himself in the chest with a nailgun... and the 3-1/2 inch nail, which was sticking one inch out of his chest through his shirt, was touching his heart.

X-Ray
X-Ray of Bergeson's chest. [Larger version here]

        Bergeson had been working on the fireplace frame at a home near Peshtigo when the nailgun accidentally fired, and the nail ricocheted into his chest. At first, he thought the nail had just nicked him, as it didn't really hurt that much... but as he discovered the nail sticking an inch out of his chest, he also noticed that it was twitching. It was twitching, in fact, whenever his heart beat. Luckily, "common sense" warned him not to pull the nail out. Instead, he washed up, then drove to the hospital that was just ten minutes away. Overall, the wound only really started to noticibly hurt when he walked into the ER, which is why he wanted to sit down.

        Probably not surprising to hear, but after the above x-ray was taken, Bergeson was sent immediately by ambulance to Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay ("I offered to drive myself, but they wouldn't let me," Bergeson said) where, presumably, they were more prepared to deal with what was going to be a delicate matter. The nail, you see, was only 1/16th of an inch from a major artery, and had in fact penetrated partially into the surface of Bergeson's heart... they couldn't be sure how far, but it left bruising and a nail-sized hole when removed. Letting doctors handle the problem instead of pulling it out himself probably saved his life. After two weeks of recovering at home, he was back to work.

        "I feel pretty good. I'm back to doing things carefully," he said. "It was a pretty awakening experience."