May 29th, 2009

Gunshot to Abdomen?

I have a character: Male, mid-30s, very physically fit.  I want to have him shot, bleeding fairly heavily, incapacitated but not dead. The location/setting is the Caribbean, Aruba, so the medical facilities are good though perhaps not US Trauma level.  The shooter isn't so much trying to kill as maim.

The wound I imagine is a bullet to the abdomen. But I haven't been able to find any consistent information on the survivability of such a wound. 

One thing I read said the patient has about 30 mins to receive medical care. Another said the big issue isn't so much the wound as it is infection and the victim as all the time in the world . (Only slight exxageration.)

Can someone provide any information?

Severed limbs (amputation), appearance of healing stumps

Setting: Alternate reality set in feudal Japan, Edo period, circa 1600-1800. Character is a young, fit, healthy, and athletic man, early 20s. He has a run in with a powerful daimyo warlord who, through deliberate action, severs both of the young man's legs. He is given immediate medical care; however, and receives the best quality of surgical attention and aftercare available at the time the story is set. It is now 1 month after the trauma has been inflicted and surgical attention has been concluded.

Searches: I have started my search using the most reliable engine I've always used, which is google. That is to say I think I have read close to fifty or more medical journals (yes the ones that make you squint and wonder whether these people are even speaking the same language), quite a few simplified articles about above-knee amputation and healing, and the closest I have come to finding an answer was not satisfactory enough in its scope. I have read the wikipedia entry on the topic I'm finding difficult to research, and have visited the suggested websites provided by some commentors on Little Details, and have also checked the posts relevant to the subject matter I'm investigating and have not found exactly what it is I need to know. I have even looked up the matter on yahoo answers, and surprisingly even first-hand victims had very little to say on the matters I require info on.

As a second resort I searched for separate articles on wound healing and found answers to be far too varying to give me any concrete or mostly solid answers or an idea of a timeframe.

The mostly vague 'healing time varies' is the prevalent term, and the only thing I came close to what I needed was a medical journal that stated (in between very complex wording and statistical analysis) 'healing took anywhere between 100 and 200 days'. Not bad, but not very helpful regarding specifics of what I need.

Need: The probability of success in amputations or repairing damage from such severe trauma, or indeed the survivability of such an event is not what I need help with. I'm making small miraculous allowances and flexibility in how the character came to survive the severance of his legs and how likely or unlikely it is he might have lived.

What I DO need to know; however, is what can one expect in the healing process after such surgery. The timeline now is 36 days post-surgery. He has received the care of a nobleman, which is thorough and to the best of quality during the period the piece is set. Let's assume all the best possible outcomes are in play.

Here are the key points I'm finding difficult to guage while writing his healing phase:

1. How long after stitching and cleaning the wounds would the stitches come out?

2. What would the scarring look like at this stage? Still sore? Still scabbed? Displaying redness? Rough? Bumpy? Details please! Gruesome I know, but I'm a stickler for them.

3. I'm assuming, since there is no compound 'this is what it feels like or probably feels like' answer that I could find, that there would still be physical pain should everything APPEAR to have healed on the outside. Is this a reasonable assumption? Would it be muscular pain? A combination of skin and muscle pain?

4. I've also researched the 'phantom limb' phenomenon a large percentile of amputees experience after the loss of a limb, so I need not have any info regarding this particular point.

Mostly I need a physical 'what does/should it look like at this stage' answer in regard to the risidual stumps, and what sort of physical pains he would be feeling.

Scene: If it helps any, the scene I need this information for (apart from the general plot), is after an amorous encounter with the daimyou, in which the warlord forces the young captive to recognize the reality of his lost limbs by unbinding them. I stopped writing immediately and discovered that I had absolutely no clue what the wounds would look like at that stage and couldn't continue describing the scene or Akahane's reactions to it!

Please let me know if you have any input on the subject, I would be most appreciative!

EDIT: On the subject of mobility, the intention was to have Akahane unable to ever walk again, so he will not be using any crude or antique form of prosthetics. There will be an innovation in the form of a wheelchair constructed for him, but this comes later in the story.

1700s European shawl styles and clothing sources

Setting: Germany, France, and Italy in the early 1700s (1715ish, to be more precise). Character is young woman from a family of farmers, traveling around Western Europe with her foster brother to rally the members of a secret society to fight the Ultimate Evil. Along the way, she is going to pick up a plot-significant shawl. I just don't know exactly what this shawl would have looked like. What would it have been made of? How would it have been made (knit/woven/crocheted/other)? Would it have been triangular, like some modern ones, or a rectangle? Would it be embroidered/beaded/etc.? It's not supposed to be anything fancy, just something any peasant/lower-class person would have.

Ways Searched: Tried googling things such as "1700s shawl styles" "history of shawls" "1700s fashion" "baroque shawl" &c. Got a lot of info about the upper class and some modern knitting patterns, but nothing really helpful.

Also, I didn't even begin to know how to search for this one. Along the course of her journey, the character gets a Significant Costume Change. It's supposed to happen piecemeal and unobtrusively, so having the outfit just appear won't cut it, and she and her foster brother are short on cash and free time, so buying new clothes or making them would be moderately difficult for them. Would it be reasonable to just say that, at various points on their quest, when other members of the secret society notice her clothes are a bit worse for wear (they've been having Adventures along the way, of course), they rummage through the attic/wardrobe/ragbag for old clothes for her? Did people hang on to old clothing like that, or was it usually immediately repurposed or sold?

If the above scenario is unreasonable, is there another way for her to cheaply and easily acquire a new outfit?

Thank you very much.