When it comes to bizarre injuries, Dale Carman really nailed it.
A four-inch nail penetrated his heart while he was mowing his lawn.
The painful injury happened five years ago at his home in Stony Brook, N.Y., but Carman recounts the incident on "I Was Impaled," a TV series devoted to bizarre accidents that airs Saturdays on Discovery Fit & Health.
"I had already made one run on the property and just started on the second round and something hit my chest," said Carman, 78. "I just thought, 'Well, it just threw up a stone or something,' and I kept on moving."
But Carman soon started seeing red -- literally.
"I looked down and my shirt was just covered in blood," he said. "I thought, 'Gosh, that must have been a very sharp stone, and it must have cracked a rib or broke the skin at least."
Despite having a shirt that looked like a crimson Jackson Pollack painting, Carman kept calm when he went into the house. His wife, Louisa, wasn't as placid about his plasma-covered garment.
"I got nervous," she said. "I saw a little hole in his shirt the size of a small pebble. I thought something might have penetrated his skin."
Louisa demanded Dale go to a hospital and would have preferred he take an ambulance, but he thought it was a minor issue and insisted they drive themselves. When they got to the Stony Brook Hospital emergency room, Dale's injuries didn't look serious compared to the other patients so he had to wait. This made Louisa's blood boil.
"Dale is very fit, very strong and always has been," she explained. "I said to the nurses, 'Please don't look at his chronological age; he is a very strong, fit man and he's getting weaker and weaker.'"
But her husband wasn't having any of it.
"I told her, 'Shut up! There's other people in here with sprained ankles or scratched their finger or something.' She wouldn't give up." he said.
Good thing she didn't. When he finally saw a doctor, he was sent for a CT scan and finally recognized he might be in trouble.
|THE SCAN SHOWING A 4 INCH NAIL IN HIS HEART|
"I had to put my arms up over my head and, when it did, it felt like it was pulling my chest apart." he said.
Dale's doctor, cardiac surgeon Dr. Todd Rosengart had a sharp reaction to the scan images.
"I looked at the CT scan and there, sure enough, was something that really did not belong in anyone's heart," he said. "It looked like a spike or a nail."
Five years later, Rosengart is still floored that the nail was able to penetrate Carman's skin without any visible signs from outside.
"I didn't believe it was for real," he said.
Two hours of surgery were needed to get the spike out, but Carman survived and lived to tell the tale.