Nail removed from man’s head
Gail Glaenzer often teased her accident-prone fiance, Dante Autullo, about their long engagement, joking that she wanted to marry before he hurt himself too badly.
“I told him, I want to get married while your face is pretty for wedding pictures,” she said.
Neither Glaenzer nor Autullo thought anything of it when Autullo hit himself in the head with his nail gun while working in his Orland Park garage Tuesday and texted Glaenzer a quip with a picture of what he thought was a minor scratch on his head.
Thursday morning, Autullo awoke at Advocate Christ Medical Center after surgery to remove a 3½-inch nail he accidentally shot into his brain some 36 hours earlier.
“He got real close to his face,” Glaenzer said Friday, finally able to joke about the situation.
Autullo was awake and talking after the operation that removed the nail and replaced a contaminated piece of his skull with a patch of mesh and plate of titanium.
Autullo is expected to leave the hospital this weekend with no lingering aftereffects. Damage to his brain tissue was minimal, and the father of four has showed no signs of loss of function, vision or memory, said Dr. Leslie Schaffer.
The point of the nail entered cleanly without sending fragments of bone into the delicate tissue of the brain. The flat head of the nail kept it from penetrating too deeply and held it in place securely, just as if it had been driven into a two-by-four, Schaffer said. During a two-hour operation, he drilled two holes on opposite sides of the nail head and lifted out a small piece of bone with the nail stuck in it.
The portion of the brain the nail struck, on the upper right side in the back of Autullo’s head, controls some motor functions, but because he has so far showed no side effects, he probably won’t, Schaffer said.
“He might forget to take out the garbage or walk the dog, but who doesn’t?” Schaffer joked.
Autullo was standing on a ladder, reaching over his head to drive nails into the top of a wall, when he lost his grip on his nail gun. The recoil swung the gun back and pressed it against his skull. From the outside, it appeared to be a minor scrape, but just below the skin was the head of a nail.
“It felt like I got punched in the side of the head,” Autullo said.
He popped a few Advil and kept working. Later that night, he drove a plow truck for eight hours and took his children to a play rehearsal.
Autullo woke up after a nap Wednesday feeling nauseated with a nasty headache. He went to an immediate care center and eventually to Advocate Christ Medical Center.
When he saw the bright white silhouette of the nail on his X-ray, Autullo couldn’t believe it.
“I thought it was fake. I said, ‘Did you get that out of the doctor joke file?’”
It was real, and so is his recovery, doctors said, not matter how hard it is to believe.
“I can’t wrap my brain around the fact he had a nail in his (brain),” Glaenzer said.
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