In Short: Lucky Shot.
While working at a retail store the last thing one might expect is to be rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries before the end of the day. I was not even supposed to work that evening, but my assistant needed the evening off, and I stayed. It was the 1976 Christmas season, and customers were arriving steadily.
Around dinnertime it had slowed down and I heard an employee scream.
When I rushed back to see what the issue was, I almost ran into an individual holding a gun. I was thrown to the floor, and hit in the head with the gun so hard he broke the trigger guard. I literally saw stars, and felt blood running down my face. I was later told that after being pistol-whipped I was then shot, point-blank in the temple, but I had no idea. I felt nothing, probably due to shock (thank goodness for shock).
Hearing the EMTs say “Point of entry, right temple. No point of exit,” gave me the first clue, and I asked what they meant. That is when I learned I had been shot. I never lost consciousness. However, I was unable to see, but I thought it was blood in my eyes. EMTs wheeled me out and preemptively said, “Don’t worry. We are putting a blanket over your head, but it is because it is snowing, not for any other reason”!
The bullet hit the back of my right eye and came to rest behind my left eye — and is still there 45 years later. I am essentially blind in the right eye but did not lose it. Vision in the “good” eye began to return the next day, and since has returned fully. My Ophthalmologist at the time advised that due to the unusual hemorrhaging and circumstances that occurred, pictures of my eyes were submitted to an industry reference journal and were accepted.
I was a bit of a novelty at the hospital as it is not often an individual shot in the head can speak with worried relatives, doctors, and police. I spent seven days including Christmas in the hospital, but was home for New Year’s.
Interestingly, the actual shooting was almost painless. The treatments for months after were a kind of torture, but thanks to the medical professionals and a whole bunch of luck I can talk about it. I was told that if the bullet was a millimeter either way I would have been dead, or a vegetable.
The shooter and cohort were caught that night and I was able to testify at their trial, sending them both away for lengthy sentences. I have adjusted to having no depth perception, and really give no thought to what could have been. The bullet fragmented as it entered me, and occasionally a small fragment works its way to the surface and can be painful, but that happens very infrequently.
Amazingly there have been very few after-effects and for that I am thankful. Along with surviving, of course.
Steve spent 40+ years in retail senior management, and has recently retired.
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