Originally answered in Portuguese: Qual é a sensação de levar um tiro na cabeça?
It was a little different with me. First or first shot, and then a flash. Everything went white and I just heard a hum, high and high. It felt like I was falling backwards in slow motion while trying to understand what happened. And even though they’re here that I didn’t even close my eyes, that moment seems to have rolled in slow motion, as I fell. The fright. The flash. The buzz. Everything went white. Of course, I didn’t see anything, just white. It was like an experience for the body, I don’t know. I was there in the restaurant, sitting, having lunch, very calm, eating. With my mouth full of broccoli, and suddenly I was gone. Suddenly, I was somewhere else, and it was all white, empty, and I heard or buzzed and saw or flashed. And as I fell, I found that he was shot. A voice in my head said something like “Jeez, or what was that? JEEZ FxxK I TAKE A SHOT! FxxK BRO I TAKE A SHOT IN THE HEAD”. “I`M DEAD.”, I thought. I was sure that I will die. Or that he had already died. He was already dead and was elsewhere. I didn’t even feel anything at first, and I thought it was to clear a tunnel end that came with everything and kind of ran over me or something, I don’t know “I died.”, I thought. And at that moment I was not sad, angry, upset, nothing. I was surprised and curious, I swear, curious, wanting to know what came next, if he came at all. I died. And now? What next? I was sure that I had died, or that I wouldn’t even open my eyes and see anything else.
Suddenly, in the eye, all the customers in the restaurant ran out, or so did the thief, and just my girlfriend was there, on top of me, looking at me.
Suddenly I started to feel. It is not necessary to know exactly where the bullet spun .38 hit me, a feeling was that my whole face was looking inside out, or as if someone had picked up a pickaxe and hit me in the face, with everything, and the pick is still there. I was told not to move, and I did not move.
I didn’t move or say anything, but the blood feels thick and hot and runs down my eye, nose and throat, hard, like an open hose inside my head. Today I still like blood and broccoli. I felt blood running down my eye, through the bullet hole, through my nose, through my throat, through my ear, everything, and the amount of blood I lost, and still not knowing where the bullet had hit, I was still sure of that I’m going to die, over there. That much blood, that situation, that really surreal, heavy movie scene. Blood and drama so.
I thought I went to delete, and I didn’t. The first thing I said was ‘where did you get it right?’ And she told me she didn’t have a nose and graze.
“Scratching,” I thought, and almost laughed. I knew it had been in my face. I knew I had hit the nail on the head. It was all numb, all over my right side of my face, and I was sure the bullet was still there. And it was a lot of blood, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe, so I asked her to take food with blood that was in my mouth. Broccoli and blood. A lot of blood. SO MUCH BLOOD. I had never seen so much blood in my life and I don’t think anyone was seeing that scene had seen so much blood either.
I looked at that pool of blood. If nothing came up in the last semester of medicine, why was fate also having lunch at the same restaurant (this happened next to a federal university) and asked for a background and pressed where the bullet went in, trying to stop something. But most of the blood was dripping from the inside.
Think that you should erase it, because you are losing all that blood, and just die, right there, and very quickly. Restaurant door, friends, acquaintances and other restaurant customers all in shock, all in despair, calling SAMU (ambulance), discussing who had a car to take me to the hospital and things like that, and inside a restaurant, I, thrown in on the floor, on top of a huge pool of blood, my girlfriend and the girl there, already almost a doctor, who miraculously was also having lunch there, but who unfortunately didn’t use much for me in a situation. Just wait.
Choose who to call or SAMU (Ambulance) and who was on the way. It was 12: 30, peak time, and this city has one of the last 3 transits in Brazil.
I died, I thought. I died. All. I died waiting or SAMU to arrive. It was a lot of blood, and it kept pouring out. Think of traumas that could lead to my girlfriend, dying there, in front of her, victim of a robbery, some very crazy thief who came to steal my cell phone and at the time of taking out a gun already fired, nervous or someone there, and me nailed it, point blank. I died. I was sure I was going to die there and there was nothing else I could do. Assurance.
I thought about her, I also thought about my mother, I thought about the owner of the restaurant, I thought about the trauma that would be for all those people who were there and ran out, I died there, in front of them. I didn’t even think about dying, because until then I was still sure that about death I had nothing else to do.
And then the body started to hurt. Not so much where the shot hit, but the bones, from the position I was on the floor. I asked if I could move, they said no. I tried to hold on for a while, but the agony was so great that I wanted to get up and sit on a chair. I moved, supporting my arms like this, to change position and turn on my side, and I saw the size of the pool of blood that formed under me. Thick, dark, dense blood. And seeing that absurd amount of blood (really, it squirted out of my eye, Tarantino’s movie stuff or something) and it just made me more sure that I was going to die, over there. Waiting for SAMU to arrive. Thrown on the floor, tasting blood and broccoli.
And then the pain came, and it was my face all burnt with powder, my eye, my nose, everything. The bullet hole burned, it hurt. The bullet hit my jaw, between the right eye and the nose, nose, orbital region, right where the eyeglass rubbers are, you know? Right there, between the eye and the nose. And it was a broken bone pain, the feeling was that my head had turned inside out. Seeing all that blood and feeling that pain started to drive me to despair.
I felt cold all over my body, from shivering. “It’s now,” I thought. I felt a weakness, I thought, “I’m going to pass out.” Faint and die. And the pain. All that pain. Until then I think I was relatively calm, but at that moment it was as if the game had taken a turn. Something inside me shook and said no. My girlfriend told me to stay awake, stay with her, that she wouldn’t let me go. With the cold and the weakness, I reacted. I said “it hurts a lot, I’m going to scream”, and it wasn’t even so much pain, it was just a sudden urge to react. I started to howl, pretending it was pain, but it was desperation. A reaction to not erase or something. A breath and an urge to scream. I screamed. I think it worked.
It was about 20 minutes, and the ambulance arrived. From the projectile’s entrance, they decided that they would have to take me to a hospital with a neurosurgeon on duty. “I’m in shit,” I thought. They tied me up on a stretcher, put on a cervical collar, and put me inside the ambulance. The hospital was in the city center, about 10km from where I was. “There, I’m going to die in an ambulance inside the traffic jam”. In the ambulance, they only gave me IV. The pain was getting worse, and I think they gave me sodium dipirone or something. Exactly, one that we take for headaches. The ambulance was shaking everywhere, and in order not to fall off the stretcher or something, I was told to hold on. At that moment, I realized that everyone in the ambulance was relatively calm, (except the driver), and for the first time it crossed my mind that I might not be dying that day there.
My throat was burning with dried blood and more blood coming down. They changed the cloth for gauze to stop the external bleeding, but it was too much blood. They gave me serum, and that’s it. I closed my eye and tried to calm down, but I think if I passed out there and died it was okay, it was calm, and there was nothing I could do and I didn’t have much hope that I could get out of this. Until…
I arrive at the hospital, they take me out of the ambulance in that rush, and I see that public SUS hospital with the roof all falling apart, and around it, that war zone that only exists in public trauma hospitals in the great Brazilian metropolises: scattered people everywhere, on stretchers, on chairs, on the floor. The SAMU (ambulance) nurse takes me to the emergency room, red zone, and they deliver me to the hospital. At that moment, one of the hospital nurses says he has no gauze, no glove, and asks me to hold the one that is all bloody, there, myself. “I’m going to die here in this hospital,” I thought. There’s no gauze, no glove. Fuck it.
What happened next were the worst moments of my life. Choking on blood, dying of thirst, pain, agony and despair. Drowning in my own blood, while nothing happened. Crowded hospital. More time to get a CT scan. The tomography comes out and they ask “who is Isaac”, to which I answer by raising my hand. The person replies “no, it’s another one, this one is either dead or quadriplegic and you’re there raising your hand”. Another doctor or nurse responds softly saying that it is me, to which the other comes close to me, gives me a look and says “look, friend, tell you that nobody is going to take that bullet out of there…” They discover that the bullet is in C1, he fractured the vertebra, the first in the cervical, just at the base of the skull, and nobody knows why a miracle affected the spinal cord and I did not have a neurological injury.
Hours and hours go by, I yelling at the hospital to see if they did anything. In my head, it would be something from a movie, from a series, I don’t know, they were going to dope me and I was going to erase it and if I was to die, I would die, if I was to survive I would only know the next day, but it wasn’t like that. At that point I had decided that if I was going to die I would not die easy. I had already arrived there. I drew strength I don’t know where. Then they sewed my nose. “Tamponamento”, the name. They threw some gauze with an ointment into my nose and sewed it, to see if the bleeding was going down. All very quickly, no time for the anesthesia to catch, they sewed up my nose and left me there.
Maybe there really wasn’t much to do, the operating room was full and with worse cases, up front, in line, I don’t know. But it was a lot of pain, a lot of agony and a lot of despair for me to be able to be quiet, and the feeling that if I calmed down I would pass out, erase and die. He screamed, he asked them to do something, he couldn’t stand the situation of being there, like that, and just nobody being doing anything else. I was drowning in my own blood, spitting out what I could, unable to breathe. The throat tearing with dried blood, unbearable pain and the feeling that I was on the verge of death and that someone needed to do something quickly, otherwise my chances would be over very quickly.
They didn’t like my reaction very much and tied me to the stretcher with sheets, cloths, my arms and legs. I think to see if I was quiet and stopped screaming and complaining. But it didn’t do much good. He screamed in pain. I asked them to do something, even if they were going to give me some medicine so I could erase it and that hell would end. He screamed. Howling. He was in agony. I was kind of pissed off even at the universe that was making me go through it all instead of taking me away at once. It seemed that no doctor wanted to mess with me, that I had no way, that they were going to leave me there just like that. I do not know. I wanted them to do something, I want to die right away, I don’t know. I just wanted it to end all at once. I couldn’t take it. I had already crossed my limits a long time ago.
At the time I completely lost track of time, and at 5: 10 pm (I entered the hospital around 1: 10 pm), that is, after about 4 hours agonizing and screaming in the emergency room, they took me to the operating room. Once there, a doctor said it was going to be okay, complained to someone that in that situation I should have been put on tubes as soon as I arrived at the hospital, and told me to calm down that now they were going to take care of me. He told me that he was going to give me an anesthesia (I heard fentanyl) and that I was going to erase for about 30 minutes and I thought “wow, finally they are going to erase me because if I’m going to die at least I at least die in peace” and I felt everything erasing, everything getting light and everything getting dark, very fast, without really caring if I was going to wake up again or not, but finally in peace because at least I was going to stop feeling everything I was feeling. And it worked.
It was 5: 15 pm. He said 30 minutes. I woke up the next day, 9: 30 am.
On tubes. I woke up in the fright and half in the despair of that business in me, I woke up suffocating and I was told to relax and let the machine breathe for me. For me, it was only the 30 minutes that the doctor said, and I had no idea of the time since I entered the hospital. One of the doctors moves the tubes and I start to choke and choke, because when he moved, he left the place, undocked. Several doctors start looking at me, worried, trying to find out what’s going on and thinking that I’m really bad. Unable to breathe, choking. Still tied to the gurney, I can’t even sign that it’s just because the guy changed the position of the tubes, trying to explain and that everything was fine, that I wasn’t dying, no.
They tear the tubes out of my throat. I feel everything tearing. Horrible. Horrible. I reply that it was just because the position had changed and everyone laughs, relieved, joking “look, it’s already talking!”. (Then I find out that there were several complications during the night, that I almost died, even and that they had to give me 4 bags of blood during the night so I wouldn’t die, from so much blood that I lose, super tense, thankfully that I it was off and I didn’t even see anything of that part, really. I prefer not even to know what happened, and nobody who knows took the trouble to tell me.)
Soon after, the police arrive. Asking me who I was, where I worked, if I had a drug problem, because they thought it was an attempt at execution. I was asked if I would recognize the assailant, and I said no. I didn’t even see it. If it passes in front of me, I don’t know who did it.
Soon afterwards they release me to the nursery, but that was just the beginning of a long journey of 21 days interned in this hospital, going back and forth from the ICU, bleeding like in the Tarantino films (seriously, it was a lot of blood, you have no idea, hahahahaha ) and feeling my blood going away, getting weaker and weaker, paler, and several times thinking that if I was to die I could die soon, right, to end all this suffering once and for all.
21 days. 7 blood bags. I lost the tip of my nose. I spit a piece of bone to this day, two years later, my nose is no longer useful. 7 months of cervical collar, fractured vertebrae, and even after more than a year of physiotherapy my neck sometimes hurts like a very strong migraine and I can’t even exist and dope myself to sleep, but I’m alive.
The bullet is still here with me, even today. I can feel it every time I turn my neck, and there are neck movements that I missed. It doesn’t always hurt, but when it hurts, it still hurts a lot. Sometimes it hurts when the weather cools out of nowhere, like when it is going to rain or when I enter a place with very strong air conditioning.
Nowadays I think it’s funny that when in an action movie, people are shot anywhere on the body and already fall dead on the floor. I wish it were that easy. But it is not.
And another certainty that I have is that we die on the day of dying and that’s it, if not, there is no headshot that will take you away.
Take some pictures (the less gore) so you can get an idea: