I honestly find the brain fascinating. I mean, who wouldn’t? It just sits up there, being all smart (or, I suppose, stupid), letting us do amazing things (or banal ones), remembering the lyrics to the theme song of The Greatest American Hero years after we actually saw the program, yet refusing to spit out the first name of the acquaintance we met only a couple of weeks ago at a shindig.
Which is why any news about people who have traumatically injured their brain with foreign bodies AND SURVIVED IT is like a delicious dessert to me. I can’t get enough of things like this. Something! Went into their BRAIN! And they SURVIVED IT! Their BRAIN!
So of course, I was super-stoked to hear about this story the other day.
You’re totally not going to click. I KNOW YOUR M.O. YOU HOOLIGANS. That’s ok. I’m excited to tell it to you anyway.
So this guy in Illinois – Dante Autullo, and isn’t Dante kind of a kick-ass name? Yes – was building a shed in his backyard. He was using a nail gun. Now, I don’t know about you, but nail guns scare the beejeebers out of me. You always see them being used as makeshift weaponry in action films. I don’t want to use something that shoots high-speed nails for my home repair. Mostly because I’m totally clumsy. If I can’t use a hammer and nail properly, I’m pretty sure a nail gun would be catastrophic. ANYWAY. So Dante’s putting up his shed, possibly to cover up his portal to the Underworld (that’s a Divine Comedy reference, not a judgment of whatever Mr. Autullo’s got going on in his life) and he was “using the nail gun above his head when he fired it.” That seems dangerous, but maybe that’s what one does with nail guns, I’m not a contractor. He felt like he got punched in the side of the head, and had a little wound, so thought maybe the nail gun bopped him on the head. As nail guns are wont to do. They’re totally revengey.
The next morning, he felt like he was going to yak, so his girlfriend was all, “Dante, let’s get you to the ER?” and he went.
THIS IS WHAT THE X-RAY SHOWED YOU GUYS.
NAIL! IN HIS BRAAAAIIIINNNN!
There are no pain receptors in your brain (which has always confused me, because explain my headaches, then, sciency-types) so the nail didn’t hurt – only it entering his skin/skull did.
NAIL! IN HIS BRAAAIIINNNNN!
What did Dante do when shown this x-ray?
“When they brought in the picture, I said to the doctor `Is this a joke? Did you get that out of the doctors joke file?”‘ the 32-year-old recalled. “The doctor said `No man, that’s in your head.”‘
Ha! A FUNNY JOKE FILE! Doctors have a joke file? I totally want to see that. Also, why’s his doctor a surfer-dude? “No, man, that’s in your head, bro! We’re just going to take it right out of there, dude!”
Apparently, nails are a better thing to have in your brain than bullets, because bullets break up and cause all the damage and dying and shit, while nails are thin and do not break up and have a pointed tip. This nail kindly stopped before it entered the parts of his brain he was using, and the doctors were able to remove it (by drilling two holes in his brain and pulling the nail out along with a piece of skull, ew ew ew) and listen, Dante is FINE. Like, joking with the doctors (ok, “joking,” Dante’s not all that funny, but I don’t think that’s a nail in the brain side effect, I think he just isn’t all that humorous, I wish the nail would IMPART humor, that’d be awesome) fine.
Now, one time I was watching some show, I don’t know what it was, I want to say Rescue 911 (remember how horrible that show was? I used to get nightmares from that show) or something along those lines and I can’t find reference of it online and that’s unlike me, I’m totally a champion Googler, but I remember some story where some guy was driving along, minding his business, and was behind a truck filled with rebar, and the truck stopped suddenly, and one of the pieces of rebar FLEW OUT OF THE BACK OF THE TRUCK and THROUGH THE GUY’S WINDSHIELD and INTO HIS EYE AND BRAIN. That was horrifying. Can you even imagine? You can’t even blame that on a revengeful nail gun. FLYING BRAIN-INJURING REBAR! I don’t remember what happened to the guy. I remember what happened to ME – I’ve been afraid of driving behind a truck with anything pointy and small enough to enter my eyeholes ever since – but not the guy. Probably he lived, if it was on Rescue 911. I don’t think they had a lot of gory death stories on there, did they? Just horrendous injuries that freaked me out.
Then there’s this guy. Phineas Gage. Exciting! Doesn’t that sound like someone who would be outstanding and also sit up very straight? Also, I can’t hear the name Gage without thinking of that demon child from Pet Sematary and “Gage wants to play wichoooo” and ACK. Phineas Gage worked for the railroad in the mid-1800s. He was in charge of putting explosives in holes and tamping them down with a large iron rod. One day, something went VERY WRONG and the explosive went off while he was tamping, sending the iron rod THROUGH HIS BRAIN. All the WAY through. Like this:
AND HE DIDN’T PASS OUT YOU GUYS.
The doctor showed up and this is what the Wikipedia article said and SO EFFING GROSS AND ALSO AWESOME:
“I first noticed the wound upon the head before I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinct. Mr. Gage, during the time I was examining this wound, was relating the manner in which he was injured to the bystanders. I did not believe Mr. Gage’s statement at that time, but thought he was deceived. Mr. Gage persisted in saying that the bar went through his head …. Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain, which fell upon the floor.”
ZOMG HALF A TEACUPFUL OF BRAIN.
Also, the bar totally PASSED THROUGH his brain and landed a little way away. Went THROUGH. Like a JAVELIN.
So he recovered, although he looked kind of like a freakshow, and toured with Barnum and Bailey for a while, because if there was one thing P.T. Barnum knew, it was that people love creepy shit that gives them the shivers.
But! His personality totally changed!
Before the spike through the head incident, he was “hard-working, responsible, and ‘a great favorite’ with the men in his charge, his employers having regarded him as “the most efficient and capable foreman in their employ.” After the accident? Um. Well. Not so much.
First, he carried the metal bar around with him. EVERYWHERE. He called it his “constant companion.” He was even BURIED with it.
Also? “He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires, at times pertinaciously obstinate, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future operations, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing more feasible. A child in his intellectual capacity and manifestations, he has the animal passions of a strong man. Previous to his injury, although untrained in the schools, he possessed a well-balanced mind, and was looked upon by those who knew him as a shrewd, smart businessman, very energetic and persistent in executing all his plans of operation.”
Then about 12 years later he had convulsions and died, so I guess longevity and steel spikes through your head don’t really go hand-in-hand. He was only 36.
So, then, wait a minute, he kind of seemed to get shiny-toddler-ADD, didn’t respect things, was crabby, and cussed a lot.
Um. I HAVE THAT.
I need to talk to my parents. Maybe I had a steel bar shot through my head and didn’t even know it. Shit shit shit. WHY DO MY PARENTS ALWAYS HIDE THE BEST THINGS FROM ME SERIOUSLY.
Although I could totally use a career as a sideshow carny. That would be AWESOME. I’d be best friends with the Dog-Faced Boy and hang out with the geek and get free readings from the fortunetellers and eat all the free fried dough. I’m all over this. Also, I love to travel.
Perfect career move! Plans have been made! This one’s going to work, you guys!