Man Discovers Nail in Head, 2005

Patrick Lawler seemed fine after a small accident at work. What seemed at first to be a lousy toothache turned into needing emergency surgery after a stunning X-ray find. Read to find out what happened.

The 23-year-old construction worker, with black eyebrows and goatee, sat on the edge of his chair and gnawed on his fingernails with the sort of trepidation familiar to many in his situation – he was sitting in the dentist’s waiting room.

Like so many Americans the lack of medical insurance meant that a visit to the dentist could solve a medical problem but replace it with a financial one, so Patrick Lawler was reluctant to sit in the chair for just a toothache. Even so there was swelling which no amount of painkillers or ice cream would soothe. And then there was the blurry vision; for six days now, since a day’s work at a ski lodge, the pain endured.

Lawler’s wife worked at the surgery so when Lawler shook his dentist’s hand in greeting, it was the warm greeting of friends. They proceeded with an X-ray. Then his dentist returned with the findings. Lawler was so shocked he was sure that the professional, being the friend he was, was goofing around. Yet there was no sign of a smirk to betray that; he was deadly serious. ‘There’s a nail in your head!’ he announced.

Dumbstruck, the murk of the mystery then cleared for Lawler as he recalled that day at the ski lodge; he had been using a nail gun which backfired. It had shot a nail into a wood piece nearby but what Lawler had astonishingly failed to notice was a second nail had actually punched into his upper mouth.

How the young man failed to detect a piece of metal burrow into his head is beyond belief. Lawler was rushed to hospital and underwent a four-hour surgery to remove a whopping 4 inch (10.2cm) nail, an inch and a half of that piercing his brain. By extreme fluke the nail caused no damage to his mental faculties. Lawler’s surgeon quipped “If you’re going to have a nail in the brain, that’s the way you want it to be. He’s the luckiest guy ever.


If you can believe it this isn’t the only time a man has unwittingly fired a nail into his head, so beware, if you’re into DIY and some mystery pain ever flares up in your skull, it just could be you have a nail in your head.


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