That being said, I'm fairly certain that Uri (not his real name™) is not a superhero, but I can't say I'm 100% convinced.
Uri was admittedly a bit of an anomaly in my trauma bay, in that he was shot in the late evening rather than in the middle of the night. I don't think his attackers were thinking of me personally when they shot him in the chest, head, and neck so early (relatively) in the day, but I appreciated it nonetheless. No one likes to be in the operating theatre at 2 AM. NO ONE.
When the call first came in from the first responders, it sounded pretty grim (from what we could hear). Multiple gunshot wounds to the head, multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. That's the sort of call that prompts the nurses to put the body bag under the sheets on the gurney before the patient even arrives. When he got to me 15 minutes later just before 9 PM, I was expecting to see them doing chest compressions. Instead, what greeted me was a pretty awake young Uri.
"Hey Doc, this is Uri. Multiple gunshot wounds, two to the back of the head, two to the chest. He was pretty altered when we first got there, but he's started to come around. His vitals have been ok though his pulse has been in the 140s the whole time."
Wait wait wait, how in the hell does someone who has been shot in the head start to come around? This didn't make sense. At all. I started to try to convince myself that this would end up being nothing and I started thinking of going to bed soon, but my Inner Pessimist wouldn't let me. "At least disrobe the patient and look at the holes first, dummy!" it wisely told me.
It took all of 2 seconds for me to realise how wrong I was. I hate when my Inner Pessimist is right. He had a gunshot wound to the right upper chest, one to the left lower chest, two on the back of his head, two on the left side of his neck, an exit wound on his right upper back, and another on his right lower back.
Those of you who know your anatomy can see already how bad this looked. Those of you who don't know anatomy, well you probably got it quickly too. An entrance on one side of the chest and an exit on the other is a Very Bad Thing.
I palpated the back of his scalp where the wounds were, and I could feel broken bits of bone underneath. But Uri was looking at me and talking, so I figured the bullet probably went in, bounced off the skull, and came right back out. "Don't be so sure!" my Inner Pessimist told me. Sigh. I next moved down to his chest. He had decreased breath sounds on the left (that's bad), and no breath sounds on the right (that's worse), but his heart was beating. Fast, but beating. I then pushed on his abdomen and he groaned and tried to grab my hands.
Damn. One thing I hadn't seen Uri do yet is move his legs. I asked him to move them, and they didn't budge. Maybe he didn't hear me through all the hustle and bustle going on around him. I asked him again (louder) to move his legs. "I'm trying, Doc. I can't."
Shit. SHIT. SHITSHITSHITSHIT
I now had potential injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, and spine, all at the same time. I had no need for a chest X-ray to make the diagnosis of either pneumothorax or hemothorax (it didn't matter which) on both sides, because he needed bilateral chest tubes regardless. But I needed a quick look into the abdomen to make sure he needed immediate surgery, because I wasn't sure the bullet had gone from the chest into the abdomen ("IT DID! HE DOES!" yelled Inner Pessimist). I did a quick ultrasound which showed obviously fluid around his spleen, liver, and bladder. Blood.
Well, damn it.
We quickly put in the chest tubes and then wheeled him down to the operating theatre (2 AM is no fun, but 9 PM is reasonably ok). In his abdomen I found holes in his left diaphragm, liver, and stomach, all of which I repaired. After surgery we left him on the ventilator, but he still woke up and was opening his eyes and trying to talk. Whew, at least his brain isn't injured I thought to myself.
We went straight from the operating theatre to the CT scanner to get a better look at where the bullets went. Starting with the brain, Uri surprised the hell out of me.
Moving down to the chest, the bullet on the left side had indeed gone through the chest, into the abdomen, and through the spine at T11. As I suspected, Uri was paralysed. God damn it. The bullet in the right chest had gone straight through his right lung, fracturing a couple of ribs on the way in and out. No huge deal there, the chest tube should suffice. But then I looked at the abdomen . . .
I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that the bullet had also lacerated his aorta. If you look at the white structure circled in red (that's the aorta), it looks like it's split in two. Because it is. (Note this is not Uri's abdomen - his looked much worse.) You can probably imagine that having a laceration in the largest blood vessel in the body should result in death, and in the vast majority of cases it does.
Uri, however, had survived not one, not two, not three, not four, but five different injuries (brain, liver, lung, stomach, aorta) that could (and possibly should) have killed him.
But none of them did.
Is Uri a superhero? That depends - is living a super power? Well, maybe "living" isn't the right term. Is surviving multiple horrific injuries that should have been fatal considered a super power? And if so, what would his superhero name be? We can't use The Boy Who Lived, because some silly wizard already took that one (yes, I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd. Sue me). How about The Living Kid? No? Survival Man? Still no? Oh oh oh I got it, how about Duraboy! No no, I got it - Existo!
Hey, it's a better super power than "I have a cave and a car and a grappling hook on my belt."