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  1. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Shoulder Gunshot Wound

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Seren, Nov 1, 2019.

    Hi, everyone! I'm about to start writing a romance in which my protagonist has recently been shot in the shoulder. The bullet entered, it exited, it didn't hit anything vital, so no surgery and no complications. It was done with a handgun during a mugging. I haven't worked out what calibre or the exact path of the bullet, a) because I don't think my readers need to know and b) because I hope it means I have wriggle room for the rest of my ideas to be plausible.

    First of all, I'm wondering how long she'd stay in hospital for -- would they even bother to keep her in overnight? Or just stitch her up and send her on her way?

    Secondly, I'm wondering how much it would affect her. One-two weeks later the story begins properly, with her returning to her family home and converting it into a guest house. Mostly, she'll be staying away from the heavy lifting, but she may get involved with some wallpaper-stripping and painting. Is this feasible a few weeks after the injury I've described?

    I've tried doing some research, but I'm not really getting much of an idea other than 'maybe', so I was wondering if anyone here had a better idea considering the specific circumstances.
     
  2. Cilogical

    Cilogical Active Member

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    I won’t go into too much detail but if a bullet has entered and exited there’s two wounds (obviously) but also there’s internal cavitation to the tissues it travelled through. All of that needs to heal and the shoulder is a complicated thing, with a good bit of bone for a bullet to hit. Would the bullet have grazed through a few layers of skin rather than entered and exited any deeper?

    If it’s merely a flesh wound, after 2 weeks I’d expect a non-complicated bullet wound to be well on its way to healing. Potentially might still be using a sling for support/pain management depending on severity, but could take it off to strip wallpaper....it might be sore after though.

    If bone is involved the bullet has either shattered it, got stuck in it, or ricocheted off it and changed its trajectory so the exit wound would be in a different place. This type of injury would take longer to heal.
     
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  3. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    Well, first of all there is blood loss. Then shock. Then the fact that you have a hole in your body. If you dontbwant the latter to be an issue Id take a smaller calibre, although I'm not an expert on handguns, more the assault rifle guy, but Im pretty sure there is no .233 handgun capable of piercing your shoulder. In fact, it would have to be a pretty hefty gun to get through.

    In order for the wound to heal, she wouldnt be allowed to move the shoulder, so theyd have to stabilize the joint to prohibit movement. A simple stitiching wouldnt cut it here.
     
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  4. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    @Cilogical @AnimalAsLeader Thank you both! I'm such an idiot. I was thinking of having the bullet pass straight through to minimise the damage -- as in 'it didn't tear through anything important' -- but of course, the further it goes, the more it will pass through something, important or not, plus then there'll be two wounds... Duh.

    I'll change it to a flesh wound, because that's the kind of wound I'm really after to suit the circumstances.
     
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'd also highlight that a shoulder is a really bad place to get hit because its a solid collection on bone - very hard to just be a fleshwound - I'd suggest he gets it through the bicep or something like that
     
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  6. Cilogical

    Cilogical Active Member

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    It'd have to almost be a terribly aimed shot and graze the lateral aspect of the shoulder just taking some dermal layers with it. Getting shot through the bicep would take more than a couple of weeks to heal as muscle tissue would be involved, rather than just integumentary tissue.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    also for most people even if the physical harm is limited the psychological impact of being shot or even shot at is going to be huge... if she doesn't have a forces, law enforcement, or similar background she isn't going to just shrug it off and go hang some wall paper
     
  8. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Not that I've actually been shot, but I've been shot at accidentally many times, and also shot at with blanks. That shit mentally sticks with you forever.

    Two examples.

    First, I was hunting with an inexperienced hunter. Deer ran between us. I put my barrel down when the deer was directly between, and he didn't. He luckily flinched and fired just above my shoulder. I could feel the breeze of the shot. When I saw that barrel turn to me I thought i was done.

    Second, military training exercises require a four day combat simulation. Had a couple people dressed up as middle easterners to negotiate with. Sometimes they were friendly so you didn't know. This group convinced us. Suddenly out come the AKs only a few feet away. Even though its blanks, it's still terrifying. Felt the grains of ejected powder hitting my face. That image still sticks with me and gives me a lot of trust issues.

    In other words, the mental aspect can be massive. I wasn't even hit, but I can remember every detail of those situations even now.
     
  9. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    Not just because of the shot, but also because of the circumstances it happened in. OP mentioned a mugging.

    For a fleshwound I'd:
    1. Go for an arm, because there's more chance to not hit a bone.
    2. Do the damage with a knife. Maybe it was an accident, so a drawcut would be suited, especially if it's a scenario in which the knife gets pulled out in the heat of the moment. Because if your POV can actually see the weapon before it is used, the emotional toll is much higher. And I'd say a knife is easier to use out of hiding than a gun.
     
  10. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Thanks, everyone. Following your comments, I've decided that a mugging is perhaps not the way to go after all. This is an idea that's evolved from several other ideas, and in the original, the mugging (and emotional trauma afterwards, as well as the physical) was important. Now, though, it's not so much -- I just held onto it because I liked the idea of her being injured in some way before the beginning of the book, as in every other aspect she comes across so strong, terse, and even sometimes unkind at the start, that I thought I needed a little reader sympathy. (Plus the potential for hurt/comfort scenes between her and the love interest was too good to resist. ;) )

    I'll dream up circumstances that are less sinister and leaning more towards accidental, and probably not involving a gun at all...but all the shooting information did prove useful to help me get to this point!

    And who knows -- maybe it will get worked into one of my other books at some point...
     
  11. Cilogical

    Cilogical Active Member

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    Maybe she was accidentally pushed down some stairs by a mugger running away from someone they'd just tried to mug?
     
  12. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    On a sidenote: Getting injured is probably the least effective way of garnering reader sympathy. Even if it's completely undeserved - which is hard to tell at the start - you're more likely to find that the reader pities your character, and that's not the same.
     
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  13. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic

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    Interesting idea.

    I was thinking of her gaining sympathy more because no one knows she's hurt when she returns to the family home -- no one really gives her a chance to explain herself. They're all a bit annoyed with her for her absence, and also annoyed about her plan to turn it into a guest house. (So they also take a long time to lend her a helping hand!) That's the way I wanted to create sympathy, by giving the readers the feeling that they're all being a bit unfair, if only they knew, none of them realise she's hurt and she needs a helping hand, etc.

    But interesting point about it potentially turning into pity...
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    if you just want her to be injured you could make it something simple like a car accident or a fall in the street
     
  15. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Oddly enough, people who've been shot often report that they didn't feel anything until some time later, and then realized they'd been shot. A few people who were shot in the head and survived said they suddenly heard a buzzing noise that wouldn't go away and wondered what the heck had happened.

    But, yeah, the 'shot in the shoulder but no long-term impact' thing is basically a TV trope. Any kind of shooting that does more than graze the skin is likely to have significant impacts for some time after.
     
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  16. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is the shock response, and it almost entirely depends on the location. Torso and head shots are reported as feeling little to nothing, even numbness. Limbs on the other hand are usual extreme pain. Shoulder should fall into the extreme pain section, especially with a shattered plate surrounded by that many muscles pulling on it.
     
  17. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

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    You're kinda right, that'S why I didn't include pain specifically. Although I'm no expert, I'd imagine that it depends on the person though.
     
  18. Cilogical

    Cilogical Active Member

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    Similar to stabbings. Often, people who have been stabbed multiple times, but not seen a weapon, will think they’ve just been punched.
     
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