‘There can’t be a nail’ | VailDaily.com
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‘There can’t be a nail’

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – Patrick Lawler, the Breckenridge worker who infamously walked around for six days with a nail in his head, was expected to be released from the hospital Thursday.Lawler now ventures into a world where he’s the subject of a perplexing question. How does one walk around for six days without knowing a 3.5-inch nail is in his head? “He wasn’t convinced,” said dentist Greg Jungman. “We told him he needed to chat with his physician again and get treatment ASAP.”Since the accident, he’s decided to abandon carpentry, according to his wife, and plans to pursue a career in making furniture once he’s cleared by his doctors.Lawler was framing a house floor in Park County when a nail fired off by his nail gun struck a knot in the board, recoiled and struck him in the face.Lawler initially believed the impact of the recoil was why his face was so swollen and why he was suffering from toothaches and blurred vision.His boss thought the nail in the board was evidence the gun had worked properly. Nail guns typically only release one nail at a time – except in this instance.”His boss said there can’t be any nail. They were just worried because his eye was swollen shut, his teeth hurt, and he couldn’t open his mouth,” said Lawler’s wife.The path the nail took also affected Lawler’s recognition of what happened. The nail went through his upper lip, his cheek, behind his right eye and into the front of his brain, which is considered “silent” and doesn’t have much feeling, Kate said.Six days later, she convinced him to go to Jungman’s office and get an X-ray, which revealed the nail in his head.”The first thing I thought was that my friends put the nail on the X-ray (film),” Kate said. “I thought they were making fun of him because he got hit by the nail gun. But Dr. Jungman said, ‘No, there is a nail.”Surgeons at the Rocky Mountain Oral and Maxillofacial Center in Littleton initially thought they might be able to remove the nail, but the swelling prevented them from seeing the nail’s head. Lawler underwent six hours of surgery later at Littleton Adventist Hospital – and incurred more than $100,000 in bills. He has no medical insurance.Jungman will hold a fundraiser to help him pay those bills. The dentists at Jungman’s Dillon and Breckenridge Family Dental centers will see any patients who need treatment on Sunday, Feb. 13 and donate all the charges paid by patients to Lawler’s medical fund.For those who don’t need dental work, contributions can be made to the Patrick Lawler Medical Fund at any Alpine Bank branch. Jungman will offer tooth bleaching at half-price – $170 – and contribute $100 of that toward the fund throughout February at his Dillon, Breckenridge and Kremmling offices.Friends and strangers from throughout the nation who have experienced similar accidents have been calling to give him advice about dealing with the headaches and letting him know what he might face in the future.”A lot of people have responded. It’s great,” Kate said. “He just needs a break. He needs to stay home and take it easy.”


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