The Cost of a Bullet

Recently a friend of a friend told me that her husband, John, shot himself in the leg while cleaning his gun. I felt bad upon hearing the news, but I couldn’t help to think, “What the fuck was he thinking?”

Long story short, the police arrived on scene rather quickly as this incident took place early in the morning just an hour before rush hour and they were able to medevac him out of the area. He ended up in surgery for over 13 hours. In fact, he ended up having six surgeries within a span of 30 days and was discharged on his sixth week at the hospital.

When asked whether he would go to rehab or not, the couple stated that they didn’t have health insurance. At the moment, John pretty much said that he has to get himself back in shape without therapy. But looking at his wounded leg, I really don’t think it will be anytime soon before he can return to work.

The bill for treating a gunshot wound: $21,000 for the first 35 minutes.

When I spoke with the wife, I can see how much of this was going to be a burden to the family. The couple just had a new baby not too long ago; just under two years old. So financially, it’s going to be a very hard time for the young family, considering that the husband was the bread winner as the wife worked as a part time waitress.

But now she has to tend to not only her baby, but to her now recovering husband and now take on the bread winning role.

Her husband, while still fresh from the hospital is starting to have signs of what might be PTSD. His mood tends to swing from a depressed state to a grateful state. There were times where the husband kept apologizing to his wife, stating that he didn’t mean to neglect her in the past. Or did the things he did that may have made her mad. He was saying sorry for all the little nonsense couples fight over for. In fact, his time at the hospital allowed him to reflect on his own life, his relationship with his wife and those lives that are affected by his injury. Now, whenever he’s with his wife, he’s so ever grateful to have her in his life. And he seems very sincere about his reflection as he seems to equate this healing state as a second chance to improve his life and relationships.

I honestly don’t know what is going through his mind, but I can only imagine what he might be thinking; but then again, I really can’t. While I had my own several near death experience, none of them involved being shot.

Physically Changed

One of the things I noticed about his wounded leg was how much it shrunk while in the hospital. The bullet went through his upper right thigh, from the top of the quads straight through the back and out of his hamstring. Ironically, his loaded ammo were jacketed hollow points. When I heard that, I was quite surprised and perplex to hear that the bullet went through his thigh and out. Honestly, it would have been really rude to ask to see his wound. But I guess it is plausible since I checked for other similar NDs ballistic wounds that people had.

The couple explained that he had to undergo multiple surgeries because the doctor had to first stop the bleeding and then later had to go back and remove the additional shrapnels from the bullet. On top of that, his wound kept opening up again and there more internal bleeding that the doctor eventually put in a drain tube to his leg. The doctor even said that they might have had to amputate his leg if he didn’t show signs of healing after the first couple days. The last few surgeries he had done involved the doctors grafting his calf muscle to his thigh. I believe this was done to at least keep John’s leg at close even length by allowing him to still be able to extend this leg.

Ghost In The House

Their house was dramatically cleaned. But after he was initially shot, John explained that he collapsed to the floor after feeling a sting. As soon as he realized that he shot himself, he said he panic and tried to crawl to help. This was at 0600 in the morning when everyone was still sleeping. His wife awoke to gun shot sound, a bloody house while screaming frantically when she saw her husband. The baby had no idea what just happened, but there were blood everywhere that looked like snail trails and you can see the old pool of blood stain if you really stare hard at their floor.

Prior to that moment, John explained that he decided to clean his Glock before leaving for work. Here is where he said it was hazy. He cannot recall if he had checked whether or not his gun was cleared. He did say that he removed the magazine, because the police noted that the magazine and the gun were found separated. But did he clear the pipe before he pressed on that trigger to disassembled the slide from the frame? I’m guessing he didn’t.

Annually, gunshot wounds cost an estimated U.S. $126 billion.

Of course, I didn’t want to press on the issue of whether he had training or not, since I’m not really a friend of his. This was actually my first time meeting him. But he wasn’t shy about talking about the ordeal.

I can see that he and his wife was very happy to have guests over. They have been isolated to themselves for nearly three months trying to deal with this privately.

Lessons from the ND

As I listened to John’s story, I realized that this can easily happen to me. Whether it’s a negligent discharge, accidental shooting, or a defensive shooting, no one wants to be shot. You would have to be a total fucktard moron to think its ok to shoot yourself in the face. I seriously don’t want to be shot.

But what lessons can I take from John’s accident and apply it to myself?

Well, first off, negligent discharges happens to people who are careless either by being complacent or ignorant by not having the proper training. I even rechecked my own process when I begin cleaning my gun. One of my rules is to always clear my ammo away from my cleaning area. One, it allows me to keep my cleaning area sterile of any ammunition. Second, my clearing room, which is where I keep my other guns and ammo, are there for me to store the ammo from my now “cleared” gun. That means when I take my gun back to my cleaning area, my slide is locked back the moment I leave my clearing room. So as long as I stay to my own rules, I should have a clear gun each and every time I go clean my gun.

Secondly, John panic because he got shot. He had no training in self-administered aid. Namely having a tourniquet on hand, let alone the knowledge to use one. Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that I won’t panic. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would be freaking out as well. However, looking at my own setup, I realized that I have multiple tourniquets strategically placed all over my house. I actually do have one placed at all locations of where my firearms are stored at, including my “cleared” cleaning area. I guess ever since I took that B-Con class, I became a firm believer that you can never have too much tourniquets laying around. But honestly, I think I still need more training in this area of treatment.

What were the total medical costs when gunshot victims were first hospitalized, and where did the financial burden of medical care fall? The team found that the government bears about 40 percent of the total costs.

Finally, the financial aspect of not having insurance and the aftermath of cost. There were a lot of “what ifs” rolling through my head. Like, what if I was shot somewhere in my torso? How much of my life will change for the worst? Or being shot in the head and surviving with minimal brain functions?

Even if I live, chances are, my family will most likely face financial ruins. And that would be the biggest pain for me to endure, knowing that I cannot provide for them. Those are the scariest scenarios to think about.

Because of this incident, John decided to sell his guns off. While I completely understand, I disagree with his decisions. This is one of the risk of owning a firearm. And my biggest take away from John’s ordeal is to never disrespect the gun and always follow the four rules to handling a firearms safely.