First of all, there was the most incredible, shocking impact you could ever imagine--equivalent with having an M-80 (quarter stick of dynamite) go off in your shirt pocket--and I can tell you, I was sent reeling. It felt like I was thrown back good 2-to-5 feet or more, as my legs gave out on me. There was simultaneously, a feeling like a bomb went off INSIDE of my chest, and that of being jack-hammered through my chest wall--all of this, all at once.
Then, everything seemed to go into slow motion, as undoubtedly, a large amount of adrenaline was released from my adrenal medulla, causing my central nervous system synaopses to fire faster--like a high-speed camera, producing a slow motion effect. I was later told that the bullet (not surprisingly) ricocheted around in my chest like a pinball, first penetrating my entire chest mass, fracture and bounce off my left scapula, hurle back through my chest again, fracture a rib, and then bounce back through, trace a path around another rib (and puncture the pleural lining of my left lung), next flying straight into my spinal collumn, fracturing my T-9 and T-10 thoracic vertebrae, and transecting my spinal cord (I am now paraplegic).
Feeling all of this, all at once, was equivalent roughly, I suppose, was like being shot three times or more, not to mention that waves of paresthesia (tingling) echoed and serged throughout my body. My feeling in my legs was gone, just like that, at the same time I was flying backward--into a chair and a desk.
Oddly, at that moment, I was hell-bent on protecting my head. Finally, laying on the ground in that room, only a good 30 seconds or so post-impact, I felt my left lung begin to squeeze, and my breaths were agonizingly painful and terribly short. Every breath was a knife turning in my lung.
Then, I began to loose my vision--like white-out erasing my visual field) as I began to go into hypo-volemic shock (low blood volume). I lost my ability to see temporarily, and could not tell what was going on around me.
Then I passed out for what was probably thirty minutes. It was a darn miracle that I did not die, as a doctor later told me, the bullet almost 'curved' around my heart, within a centimeter or two of hitting it or a major blood vessel (it could have easily hit me right in the inferior, or even the superior, vena cava, near the heart muscle, in which case death would have followed in 1-2 minutes or even fewer, and unconsciousness in thirty seconds or less.
As to the question: 'Does a person writhe in agony?'--No, I personally did not WRITHE in agony, like I had been lit on fire, but I was instantly thrown into the most excruciating, truly agonizing experience of pain I have ever known--and I have had chronic spinal pain ever since, being on prescriptions such as morphine sulfate, Dilaudid (hydromorphone H Cl) and levorphanol tartrate. The reason I was not WRITHING in agony is I was knocked into a state of indescribable shock, and was incapable of much, if any movement.
However, after waking up thirty minutes or so after passing out, I managed to sit up, despite my paralysis, and I still remember--even though my pain had diminished somewhat at that point, due... undoubtedly, to endorphin release--the feeling of warm blood pouring down my shirt, and adding to the pool of blood underneath me, the venous flow coming directly from the now hot, burning wound on, and in, my chest.
I laid there for about four more hours before someone found me--I could barely whisper, much less yell, due to my 16% or so lung capacity, and as it turns out, nearly two liters... the amount of fluid in a large soda pop bottle, on my left lung... like a refrigerator crushing the left side of my chest--and by the time the paramedics got there, I was in utter shock.
I was also beginning to hurt so badly again that no words can describe it. It was horrible. Hospitalization was no picnic either, let me tell you. Even after draining off the fluid once with a chest tube--a rubber catheter inserted through your ribs, into the pleural lining of your lung, they gave me what is known as positive-pressure respiratory treatment, and the inflation of my lung popped a blood vessel and caused additional pleurasy, and another 'hemothorax'.
Originally, I also had air trapped in my chest--a pneumothorax, which they had to relieve with a cannula. That hurt too! After two additional chest tubes and having to bear down to force the reddish.-brown fluid out of my chest cavity and into a collector, I finally regained around 98% lung capacity, amazingly, and then--one month after arriving at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in the Bay Area, California, I began Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation.
I had to learn to deal with having little control over my bowels, having to learn how to do a 'bowel program' with suppositories, and the fact that I had no feeling in my groin--meaning no future physical sexual feelings, and no ability to @@@@!@*@*e--and still having a huge sex drive... how do you like that?--I had almost no way to relieve tension, except exercise, for endorphin release, and taking my pain meds.
What made it worse was, before I was shot, at age 16, I had never had sex, and never had a girlfriend, even though I can say honestly I am, and have long been, a very attractive man. And even though I have had half a dozen girlfriends now, ten years later, dating was no fun... having to explain my limitations.
In October of 2003 however, I had one of the happiest days of my life, however, when I married my wife, Jennifer. My dad was my best man. However, even being married, and having a willing sexual partner, I find myself doing almost all of the pleasing, and I suppose I will never know what it is like to be inside a woman--to actually FEEL it at all--or orgasm therein. Any of you out there who have had there experience, count yourselves as lucky. Unless there's sex in there Hereafter--and I hope there is... with my wife, I'm talking, right now--I suppose I will never know what sex is like.
You have no idea how angry that makes me, and how much pent up sexual frustration a guy has after a decade of no orgasmic release. Hey, that may sound shallow, but TRY IT SOME TIME.
It's funny, though. So many people, when finding out I was shot in the chest, ask the same question. "Did it... hurt?" Um, yeah, it was the most agonizing thing I ever experience, and could ever imagine experiencing, and so I can definitely say, 'It wasn't like a massage.'
But hey, I understand what fascination people have with pain and extreme injury. After all, before I was shot, watching action movies, I wondered what it was like. Some people have immediate endorphine releases and never have such pain symptomatology. I remember lying in bed, in the hospital, with this bloody patch over the upper, left quadrant of my chest, thinking, "Wow. Was I really shot? Am I really shot??" It's hard to believe, when it happens to you. And assuming, if you will, that there's an Afterlife, I bet people, being delivered the news that they are dead, think/say to themselves, "Wow. Am I really dead? Dead?"
Anyway, I won't bore you any further. I'll just leave you with, "Being shot--does it... hurt?" Yes, sir-ee, my friend. It most certainly... does. So now you know, like I have... for ten years. : )