Bon Jovi sings a popular song about being “shot through the heart.”
When we listen to those lyrics, few of us likely ever consider anything more deadly than Cupid’s arrow piercing us.
Doug Bergeson, a 52-year-old farmer and professional carpenter from Peshtigo, Wisconsin, gets an entirely different idea.
When he listens to that song now he knows exactly how that feels, after accidentally shooting himself in the heart.
In June he was building a fireplace frame for a house he was building for his family.
He was in an awkward position when his nail gun accidentally fired, and one of the three and a half inch nails ricocheted off the building materials and into his chest.
Unlike the reaction most of us would have, Bergeson didn’t panic . He said he felt only a slight sting and nothing worse. At that point, he had no idea what kind of danger he was in.
He didn’t know that he was in a situation that most doctors would call a “medical nightmare.” When he looked down at his shirt he didn’t see any blood so he assumed the nail must have just glanced off him.
As soon as he removed his shirt though, he saw the awful truth. Although there still wasn’t even a drop of blood, the tip of the nail, only an inch of the three and a half inches, was showing above the skin.
The rest of the nail was aimed directly at his heart, and the nail head was twitching along with every heartbeat.
That made him realize immediately that he needed to get to the hospital…fast.
Luckily, he knew he shouldn’t pull the nail out and later, hospital staff said this was likely one of the main factors in his survival.
Bergeson didn’t call for EMTs, knowing it would take them a while to get to him. Rather, according to an article on the Good News Network website:
“He cleaned himself up and drove in his own truck to the Bay Area Medical Center 12 miles away.”
He then carefully parked his truck before walking into the Emergency Room. Only at that point did he begin to feel any severe pain. “I asked a security guard then if they could find someone to help,” he said.
Bergeson was more than just lucky that day. He was a living, walking miracle because X-rays showed that the nail had ended up 1/16 of an inch away from a major artery.
That means that the thickness of a piece of copy paper was the only thing between Bergeson and sure death.
Just a small nick in a main artery in the heart would have caused internal bleeding, which would mean the heart would have stopped pumping blood in two to three minutes.
According to a story in the August 16 issue of the Washington Post, Bergeson tried to text his wife, who was at church.
He wanted to ask her to bring him a clean shirt since they had had to cut his off when he entered the ER.
Later his wife was stunned when she entered the room and saw the nail sticking out of his chest. Bergeson’s response to her shock? A rather wry and somewhat embarrassed “Oops.”
As it turns out, the Bay Area Medical Center did not have a heart surgeon available, so Bergeson was transported to the Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay.
Surprisingly, he was only in the hospital a few days for the surgery, though memories of the accident and how close he came to death will likely stick with him forever.
Although this one ended up being somewhat of a miracle, Bergeson’s accident itself is not an uncommon occurrence.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that nail gun accidents are a leading cause of injury among residential carpenters; they estimate that they cause 37,000 emergency room visits every year.
Puncture wounds to the hands and fingers are the most common but more serious injuries happen often as well.
They say that those using nail guns could face injury or death from using a gun that double-fires, or from being in an awkward position when firing the gun. Doug Bergeson was doing both when he got into trouble.
Bergeson’s miracle went pretty much unnoticed except for the people at the hospital who were privy to the situation until a local news station was alerted; now the story has gone viral.
Hopefully anyone who has been careless with their nail gun will take this story to heart. Pun intended.