So it's started. Congresswoman Giffords is doing well and it's already a miracle! She took a 9mm bullet to the brain and the only way she could have survived is by the grace of God in a supernatural act. We've never seen anyone live after having their skull and brain perforated. I could go on an on with examples of people having been shot in the brain, but let's take a look at something more extreme.
A 9mm bullet is .354 inches in diameter and just over twice that in length. Not something you want roaming your skull at 1500 feet per second. Pheneas Gage might find the notion that being in his head a welcome thought.
In 1848 Phineas Gage was breaking rock for a railroad. They drilled into the rock then packed the hole with blasting powder. The powder had to be packed tight for the optimal blast so they would put sand on it and tamp the powder with an iron tamping rod that is 1.25 inches in diameter, weighed 13 lbs, and was 3 foot 7 inches long (roughly 30mm, 6 kilos 1.1 meters long). Well, Phineas didn't use the sand one day in September and ignited the powder in mid-tamp. The rod shot at him and struck him just under the left cheek. It entered his skull at an angle that would find it exiting on the right side of the top of his skull and to the front. In the process he was shot 80 feet (25 m) away! I don't know about you, but I might not even walk over there thinking, what's the point? We'll get him at the end of the day (That's how it would have been handled back in those days.)
Within a few minutes, Phineas was up and talking. He walked himself to the cart that took him back to town. When he got to the doctor he told him the story of how his injuries happened. In the midst of the story he gets up and goes to vomit and a half tea cup of brain matter fell out of his head. The man had just had his brain perforated with a iron bar twice the diameter as a broom handle and here he's regaling people with the story while shaking his brain free. Phineas wasn't "normal" going forward. He was certainly functional but he had fits of anger and wasn't his normal self. Who would expect him to be? But he didn't go on to live out any special purpose other than surviving one of the most horrific brain injuries ever. He didn't start a school for the blind, discover a cure for polio, etc. He just lived until he was 36 and died.
It's very lucky to live through a gunshot wound to the head. But there are two on the news here in Seattle right now. NPR found someone today that shared his story of being shot in the head by a bullet that didn't exit but fragmented. I'm so happy for Congresswoman Giffords that she's doing better than expected. But this is no miracle. If you hear people telling you that it is, tell them the story of Phineas Gage.
(The story was something that I knew up, but Wiki was my source for some of the details and the picture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Gage)