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Man shoots 3½-inch nail into brain -- and survives

Gail Glaenzer often teased accident-prone fiancé 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.

Thursday morning, Autullo awoke at Advocate Christ Medical Center following surgery to remove a 3½-inch nail he accidentally shot into his brain -- not even aware that he had -- while working in his Orland Park garage on Tuesday morning.

 “He got real close to his face,” Glaenzer said this morning, finally able to joke about the situation.

As of Friday morning, Autullo was awake and talking after an operation that removed the nail and replaced a contaminated piece of his skull with a patch of mesh and plate of titanium.

“All things considered, he’s doing 100 percent,” Glaenzer said. Autullo is expected to remain in the hospital another three days.

Autullo didn’t even realize what he had done until an X-ray showed the results some 36 hours later. He had thought the nail whizzed by his head. There was only a small mark, and it wasn’t until he felt nauseated the next day that Glaenzer took him to an immediate care center for a checkup.

“I can’t wrap my brain around the fact he had a nail in his,” Glaenzer said.

Autullo’s nail gun, she said, fires when the trigger is depressed and a sensor at the head of the gun  flattens against a surface. This time, the gun recoiled, bringing it up against his head. Autullo saw a small wound, but thought it came from his contact with the nail gun.

“He sent me a picture right after it happened,” Glaenzer said. “He said, ‘I shot myself accidentally. . .I heard it shoot past my ear.’ I asked, ‘Did you see it (the nail) on the ground?’ He said ‘no.’ He’s like, ‘Well, there’s other crap on the ground.’

“He thought the teeth of the sensor cut him because it hit his head real quick,” she said.

Autullo continued working but woke up after a nap Wednesday feeling nauseated with a nasty headache.

“When he got up he looked horrible, he did not feel good at all,” Glaenzer said. “His head hurt – I asked him what his pain was on a scale of 1 to 10 and he said 14. And he was nauseous.”

They went to the immediate care center and eventually to Christ Medical Center.

Glaenzer credited their family with rushing to their side, and her sister for watching the couple’s four children.

But at the hospital, Autullo’s brother passed out while the surgeon explained potential risks of the surgery.

“Between the two of them, (they) almost killed me,” she said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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