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Phineas was accustomed to entertain his little nephews and nieces with the most fabulous recitals of his wonderful feats and hair-breadth escapes, without any foundation except in his fancy.
He conceived a great fondness for pets and souvenirs, especially for children, horses and dogs—only exceeded by his attachment for his tamping iron, which was his constant companion during the remainder of his life.
survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain's left frontal lobe, and for that injury's reported effects on his personality and behavior over the remaining 12 years of his life—effects sufficiently profound (for a time at least) that friends saw him as "no longer Gage".
Comatose, but will answer in monosyllables if aroused. The friends and attendants are in hourly expectancy of his death, and have his coffin and clothes in readiness." ("Gage was lucky to encounter Dr. "Few doctors in 1848 would have had the experience with cerebral abscess with which Harlow left [Jefferson Medical College] and which probably saved Gage's life." See § Factors favoring Gage's survival, below.) On the 24th day, Gage "succeeded in raising himself up, and took one step to his chair".
One month later, he was walking "up and down stairs, and about the house, into the piazza", and while Harlow was absent for a week Gage was "in the street every day except Sunday", his desire to return to his family in New Hampshire being "uncontrollable by his friends ... He soon developed a fever, but by mid-November he was "feeling better in every respect ... Harlow's prognosis at this point: Gage "appears to be in a way of recovering, if he can be controlled".
Harlow shaved the scalp around the region of the tamping iron's exit, then removed coagulated blood, small bone fragments, and an ounce [30 g] of protruding brain.
After probing for foreign bodies and replacing two large detached pieces of bone, Harlow closed the wound with adhesive straps, leaving it partially open for drainage; the entrance wound in the cheek was bandaged only loosely, for the same reason.
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A report of Gage's physical and mental condition shortly before his death implies that his most serious mental changes were temporary, so that in later life he was far more functional, and socially far better adapted, than in the years immediately following his accident.