The Diagnosis

After a couple of hours and a battery of tests, the ER doctor entered the trauma room where my wife and I were practicing our lamentations to happily announce, “Well, today is your lucky day!”

“Pardon me if I don’t share your enthusiasm,” I said curtly.

She went on to explain, after consultation with both the local surgeon and regional trauma experts in nearby Capital City, an operation wasn’t necessary. It turned out a chunk of metal — likely a part of the thick head portion of one shell casing — had entered my abdomen but stopped one millimeter from burrowing into what is technically known as “the guts.” If the piece had entered with just a smidgeon more gusto, I’d have been winging my way south to a Level One trauma center for emergency surgery. I grudgingly went along with her perspective regarding my fate.

Surprising to me was the fact no treatment was necessary aside from keeping the wound clean and watching for infection. I later discovered, by asking every single doctor of my acquaintance, including a PhD in Crop Science, it was standard procedure to leave shrapnel in place as there is often a greater danger of complications from surgically rooting around than just leaving it alone. Thus, with a new tetanus shot and a butt-full of antibiotics, I went home.