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Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:48 am
Jyva says...



StellaThomas wrote:
2. several characters get run through with a seax - a blade about 55 cm long, about .5 cm thick. stab areas include the solar plexus, the throat, and the abdomen. how long would it take for a person stabbed in those areas to die, respectively? would any of those scenarios have our person still able to move and attack back?

Solar plexus/upper abdomen - you get run through, they hit your descending aorta, and even if they don't sever your spinal cord, less than a minute.



Sounds like you're writing quite the steampunk murder mystery here! ;)



ahaha thanks, but it ain't steampunk or a murder mystery :P it's historical fiction/drama.
in regards to your answer to the solar plexus thing, could a person live if the wound was shallow enough? bonus points: what if they're elderly? >.>

thanks in advance!
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Wed Dec 07, 2016 8:49 pm
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StellaThomas says...



Hey @Jyva!

Yes, they could live. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be able to compensate for any blood loss. So we're going to go with three factors:

1) how deep the wound is
2) how much weight your character carries
3) how old they are

Obviously if they've a bit of a belly, being stabbed isn't going to affect them too much, but if they're very lean - there is still some fat between their abdominal wall and their organs (see: the omentum, a big apron that hangs from your stomach and covers your organs). The aorta and vena cava are right at the back of the abdomen so they'd have to cut through stomach/duodenum/pancreas first.

You can obviously survive blood loss from your stomach/duodenum - but you can obviously die from them too. People do both all the time due to ulcers. Obviously an old anaemic person with an inability to maintain their blood pressure or compensate for any further anaemia is more likely to die. But that doesn't mean it's impossible they would survive.
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Sun Jan 01, 2017 5:21 pm
BeTheChange says...



I have some questions about another story I'm working on. :)

1. I know a little about total color blindness (seeing in greyscale), but how would it affect a person's daily life? Especially if it was acquired, rather than congenital? How would that happen, anyway?

2. How should I write about a character's PTSD-related nightmares accurately? The character was horribly abused as a child.

3. My main character is a fifteen-year-old boy who was starved and tortured (by several different methods including electrocution) for most of his life. How long would it take to physically and mentally recover from this kind of thing?

4. What could cause someone to lose their leg (besides cancer)?

5. How long could two teenagers survive in a blizzard? They would have decent clothes, but no shelter. For reference, one is the boy I mentioned in question 3, probably pretty weak, and the other is a girl who's spent her whole life training for battle, so she's presumably more resilient.

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Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:08 pm
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StellaThomas says...



Hi @bookishminecrafter! I'm not sure how much help I'm going to be on these questions - a lot of them are about people's personal experiences and I would recommend having a look around on the blogosphere.

1. I know a little about total color blindness (seeing in greyscale), but how would it affect a person's daily life? Especially if it was acquired, rather than congenital? How would that happen, anyway?

So, complete colour blindness or achromatopsia is very rare, usually congenital, and associated with very high light sensitivity, meaning people need to wear sunglasses/other filters all the time to protect their eyes. Their vision overall is very poor.

You can acquire colour blindness through brain haemorrhage/stroke, multiple sclerosis, sarcoidosis and brain tumours. In all of these causes, the eye is normal, the problem is in the brain.

Regarding how it would change life, well, you're not able to see colour anymore, and your overall vision is decreased - and humans really rely a lot on our vision to learn about the world. There's lots of resources on living with colour blindness out there, so I suggest you go looking for them :)


2. How should I write about a character's PTSD-related nightmares accurately? The character was horribly abused as a child.

So the main thing about PTSD as opposed to just nightmares following trauma is that in PTSD, the nightmares are more often an exact repeat of the trauma - whereas following trauma but without PTSD the nightmares might incorporate elements of the trauma but not exact events.

That said, it's something that will be different for every PTSD sufferer, so definitely hunt around and read some first-hand experiences.

3. My main character is a fifteen-year-old boy who was starved and tortured (by several different methods including electrocution) for most of his life. How long would it take to physically and mentally recover from this kind of thing?

Psychologically, it doesn't seem like the kind of thing you'll ever get over. Of course, psychological response all depends on personal resilience - being tortured for most of your short life sounds like not a very good way to build up resilience, so he'd be starting from scratch. Kids who don't have safe relationships growing up find it very difficult later in life to form lasting bonds, and his behaviour would likely be odd in one way or another - whether he expresses fear as fear or as anger or as something else is, I suppose, up to you. It would take a long time, possibly the rest of his life, for him to start feeling better.

My post to Deanie here answers questions regarding a similar situation so that's something that I would cast an eye on regarding starvation. Keep an eye on that refeeding syndrome, and remember that after chronic malnutrition like that, he'd probably only be able to eat very small amounts for a long time.

Regarding electrocution, I don't know much about it (although I'm not really up for vilifying electroconvulsive therapy like all the movies do - it's effective and not as horrible as the media would have you believe) - but for straight up electrocution, don't forget that there would be burns and scars.

Don't forget that scars, when not clean surgical scars, can cause contractures and deformities, they're not just faint marks on the skin.


4. What could cause someone to lose their leg (besides cancer)?

1. Diabetes (in old people, from neuropathy - this is the most common reason for amputation)
2. Peripheral vascular disease (also in old people, smokers, people with heart disease often also have peripheral vascular disease) - this causes gangrene too which is another reason for amputation.
3. infection/cellulitis (not common in today's world, unless it's necrotising fasciitis/flesh-eating infection which is not caused by a type of organism called necrotising fasciitis it's just a type of reaction. Anyway the ONLY treatment for nec. fasc. is debridement/amputation, but it's a bit of a cliché.)
4. trauma (it got chopped off by something that wasn't a surgeon)
5. compartment syndrome (they broke their leg, all their muscles swelled up, cut off blood supply to their foot and their foot died).


5. How long could two teenagers survive in a blizzard? They would have decent clothes, but no shelter. For reference, one is the boy I mentioned in question 3, probably pretty weak, and the other is a girl who's spent her whole life training for battle, so she's presumably more resilient.

This guy just can't catch a break, can he?!

I have no idea how long they'd last, but he would definitely not last long, as he probably has no insulating fat and his muscles aren't great either, which means he can't even shiver as much as he should (shivering is lots of tiny muscle contractions to try to generate heat). The girl would probably fare better, and exercise, like shivering, is a defence against hypothermia, so I'm going to give her better odds if she keeps moving.

Without shelter, they're going to have it tough (even sheltering from wind behind an outcrop and huddling together for warmth is better than nothing!) Hypothermia is described as when your core body temp drops below 35 - note that's your CORE temperature, your hands/feet/nose will likely get a lot colder than that - chilblains and frostbite could occur.

Even if they do become hypothermic, remember, no one's dead until they're dead & warm. Literally freezing you can keep you alive. It's kind of cool.

(Also, 20-50% of hypothermic deaths feature paradoxical undressing which is also really cool and you should definitely look it up).

Hope I'm of some use!
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Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:22 pm
BeTheChange says...



Thanks for your advice. :)
  





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Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:05 pm
Lefty says...



Hey, Stella. I've got a few questions for you.

1. If a healthy teenager got shot in the shoulder, through-and-through (basic 9mm bullet, not shotgun) and got appropriate medical attention within minutes of the incident, approximately how long would it take them to heal, assuming there weren't any complications like infection? How long would they be kept in the hospital? Are their any therapies they would be given?

2. Same question as above, but relating to a through-and-through to the thigh instead.

3. Same question again, but a non-through-and-through to the abdomin, assuming they got emergency surgery within minutes of the incident and the doctors were able to repair any internal damage from the bullet.

4. Would the above answers differ at all if all those wounds were acquired at the same time?

Thanks in advance. I am not very knowledgeable in medical stuff, so I apologize if these are very amateurish questions. :P
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Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:55 am
queenofscience says...



Can you tell me, in-dept, about the symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentoses? What would it be like loosing color vison? In the beginning stages would they need glasses?

(I need to know for my two visualy impaired characters.P.S. funny i'm asking this because I am visually impaired.)
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Sat Jan 14, 2017 5:35 pm
TheStormAroundMe says...



I have a couple questions, if you have time to answer! I can understand if you don't, as a lot of people are asking.

1. At one point, my characters resort to sleeping rough in a warehouse in the middle of winter. They have a baby with them. How low a temperature would be dangerous to the baby? What would happen to the child should that temperature be reached?

2. I want to accurately portray mental illness, as referenced in a previous thread I opened. My main character suffers from severe PTSD after he was raped at a party (the aforementioned baby is the result of this). His best friend struggles with Borderline Personality and Obsessive-Compulsive disorders. I've done a lot of research, but anything you have on the subject would be much appreciated.

That's all! Thank you for your help!
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Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:04 pm
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StellaThomas says...



Hey guys, sorry for the delay!

@leftywriter

1. If a healthy teenager got shot in the shoulder, through-and-through (basic 9mm bullet, not shotgun) and got appropriate medical attention within minutes of the incident, approximately how long would it take them to heal, assuming there weren't any complications like infection? How long would they be kept in the hospital? Are their any therapies they would be given?

2. Same question as above, but relating to a through-and-through to the thigh instead.

3. Same question again, but a non-through-and-through to the abdomin, assuming they got emergency surgery within minutes of the incident and the doctors were able to repair any internal damage from the bullet.


The first one, I would give it an estimate of eight-to-twelve weeks to heal, but it really depends on what structures have been hit. Remember that your lungs extend all the way up past your clavicles, so your character could get a collapsed lung/pneumothorax, which is easily fixed with a chest drain. A rib might get broken - unfortunately the only way to deal with broken ribs is to suck it up. Muscles will heal with physiotherapy. The things I'd be concerned about are a) the shoulder joint itself and b) nerves. The brachial plexus that carries all the nerves to your arm and hand runs in your armpit, and up closer to your neck is the accessory nerve, which moves your shoulder and neck. Hitting the brachial plexus would be disastrous, but as I say that's more in your armpit than where I think you're planning on shooting. SO. If they get a pneumothorax, they'll need to be in hospital with a chest drain and oxygen for at least three or four days while that resolves. Otherwise, once the bleeding has been stopped and the holes stitched back up, from a medical point of view, they could go home. What might delay them - and what they'd need to be going to afterwards, is physiotherapy, and they'd be under strict instruction about what to do with their shoulder until it's healed- and here my realm of knowledge ends.

The thigh is trickier to me, because running down the middle of your thigh is, of course, your femur. A shattered femur would be an utter disaster for your character, requiring a lot of surgery, a very long recovery and altogether rather a lot of misery. So you could hit them medial to the femur, but you have your femoral artery around there as well, and hit that and you can kill someone in less than a minute. So you could hit them lateral to the femur, but honestly that would be more a graze than anything, and you probably don't want to just graze your character when you want to shoot them.

Finally, the abdomen - it depends of course, on what has been hit, and how their surgery goes. Most likely they would have to do an emergency laparotomy - that is, opening the abdomen the whole was down the midline -- this in itself takes at least six weeks to heal before you can do any heavy lifting. Then it depends on what's been hit, and the extent of damage. They might have to do a bowel resection and depending on surgical factors, your character may or may not end up with a stoma, either permanently or temporarily. They may end up needing a kidney taken out. Their large bowel might be perforated and filling their abdomen with dirty faecal matter, causing them life-threatening infection. Or, they might remove the bullet and find that no harm has really been done except for some bleeding and tearing of structures. Be grand.

It's up to you how far you want to take this. But they would be in hospital for at the very minimum a week, probably two, and they would need another six weeks to heal at the very least.

@queenofscience - unfortunately I don't know much about retinitis pigmentosa, but from what I read, rather than losing colour vision, people tend to lose their peripheral vision and develop so-called "tunnel vision" where they only see what's in front of them. People seem to think that this is like literally looking through two holes on a piece of black paper - that when you lose your peripheral vision you see everything ringed in black. From my experience of meeting patients with such conditions, that isn't necessarily true, everyone experiences these things differently, and your brain has a knack for filling in gaps. So if you lose your peripheral vision, and you're looking at a room with yellow walls, you mightn't notice a picture hanging up in the corner, but your brain fills in the yellow walls for you.

Other people describe slowly losing their night vision at first. Visual symptoms are interesting, people can describe the same thing a hundred different ways (the same goes for pain, interestingly enough). Anyway, either way, it's progressive - so people might not notice at first, and when things begin to get noticeable, they can't even remember how long things have been going on sometimes.

But I've never had RP, so I can't really speak about the experience - I know they've a lot of active support groups etc and their websites might provide more information.

@TheStormAroundMe

1. At one point, my characters resort to sleeping rough in a warehouse in the middle of winter. They have a baby with them. How low a temperature would be dangerous to the baby? What would happen to the child should that temperature be reached?

2. I want to accurately portray mental illness, as referenced in a previous thread I opened. My main character suffers from severe PTSD after he was raped at a party (the aforementioned baby is the result of this). His best friend struggles with Borderline Personality and Obsessive-Compulsive disorders. I've done a lot of research, but anything you have on the subject would be much appreciated.


Unfortunately, babies feel the cold a lot more than adults do - that's why we have to keep them wrapped up and wearing hats all the time. So they're more susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. The best advice for your character would be, of course, to sleep with the baby right next to their chest and share as much of their own 36 degree body heat as they can with the little one (though making sure that the baby can still breathe). As for how cold is too cold, I don't really know, it would depend on how much shelter the warehouse provides, if they can build a fire there, and how cold it is outside - like are we talking just about freezing, or like a Winnipeg winter?

Either way, it's far from ideal to put an infant anywhere too cold, and sadly, what realistically would happen when a baby gets too cold, without aggressive rewarming measures in a hospital setting or similar, is that they would die.

I was on your other thread as well, and appreciate your dedication to correctly portraying mental illness. I don't know how much I can tell you, except to be very aware of what is PTSD and what isn't - and the same goes for borderline (which, as an FYI, we call emotionally unstable personality disorder or EUPD these days), and OCD. Especially the last two. EUPD I think is going to be tricky to write unless you know someone personally who suffers from it, and the other key thing about personality disorders is that unlike other mental illness they are a part of the person's personality which means that they are always present. The current thinking among most psychiatrists these days is that there is no treatment for personality disorders, and the person will remain that way for the rest of their life because it's their personality - I'm not saying I agree or disagree with this and amn't looking to start a debate on the matter, but just if your character does attend a psychiatrist and psychologist, don't be surprised if they focus on the OCD and don't care about the EUPD.

And the other thing I'd say is that remember OCD is quite separate from having an obsessive-compulsive personality, which many, many people have. OCD is distressing, it is invasive and pervasive, it interferes with daily life. The same way as PTSD, this is what makes it a disorder. People react to trauma, and people have "quirks" -- neither of these things are mental illness. So I think my key point in writing these illnesses is to make sure that you write them as the distressing, nasty entities that they are, and show us the impact they have on your characters, rather than just having a couple of people who have nightmares and like to check to locks on the doors.

And of course, make sure that if they have a diagnosis, that it adheres to the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-V or the ICD-10 ;)
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Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:25 pm
Lefty says...



Thanks for your advice, Stella! Your response was very helpful!
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Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:04 am
queenofscience says...



Thank you Stella.

Question

So, I have a humnoid bird-girl who has a chronic gastric illness.

I want her to have a very limited diet. ( yes, I did some reserch and got ideas from people who have sensitive stomachs/Chron's.....)

Here is what I have...


Carbohydrates: oatmeal/pancakes/waffles (plain)

Dary: egg whites

Meat: fish/shrimp

Vegetables: carrots, peas, green beans (well cooked,soft-easer for body to break down fiber)

Fruit: peaches/bananas/blueberries (prebiotic)


Is this realistic? I want my character to have a very limited diet. Also, I want her to love sweet food ( like dessarts).....ideas.
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Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:30 am
soundofmind says...



OK SO I HAVE A RANDOM QUESTION.

So let's say this guy gets a sizeable amount of skin and flesh ripped off when he's getting mauled by little evil green goblins on like, his arm and leg. How long would it take for things like that to heal? I assume he'd have to get like, a skin graft or something? I feel like he'd need magic to regenerate stuff or he's screwed honestly haha. (This is in a fantasy setting with limited magic and not-modern medicine.)
  





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Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:59 pm
rebelpilot says...



Ok well later on in my story then one of the characters gets their neck broken and I was wondering if they would be able to survive. They are Human and it is star wars fan fiction and they receive medical attention pretty quickly.
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Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:02 am
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StellaThomas says...



Apologies for going quiet for so long!

I am deciding that today is the day that I'm reopening!
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Thu Jun 21, 2018 3:55 am
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shaniac says...



Hey Stella!

So, I have some questions regarding being stabbed. My character in my current novel is stabbed after poisoned by cyanide. Originally, I was going to have the character stabbed in the shoulder area but I didn't want to risk there being a lot of blood, so I tried going for the more subtle approach, which was poison. Then I got to thinking about using both poison and a knife injury. The trouble that I ran into was he needs to die through the poison or the stab. I then decided to have him be poisoned by cyanide, as I mentioned before.

My questions that I have is what are some places that are not chronically damaging if correct medical assistance is given, how much damage can a standard kitchen knife do to skin, how is the skin impacted by a knife stroke, and would poison kill him faster or the knife wound? I'm thinking that he just stabbed once and then left to die from the poison.

Thank you again and sorry if my questions don't make sense, haha.
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