October 9th, 2009

Limits of Paraplegia caused by Overdose

The fandom I'm writing for is set in the current time. Character A has become paralyzed from the waist-down due to an overdose. The drug in question has similar properties to meth, and it contains both butane and ethylene. Character A was exposed to the drug via IV for at least a 2 hours and was being held in Quebec, Canada.

I'm looking for information regarding paraplegia caused by overdose: although he is unable to walk and relies on a wheelchair to be mobile, will A also be unable to feel touches on his legs and by extension be able to have sexual intercourse? Is there a higher chance of recovery because there wasn't direct physical trauma(such as a fall, or a punch etc;) to his spine?

I know all of the above is still possible and that each case differs, but because drug-induced paralysis is rarer I can't find much about it.

Keywords I've used: Overdose + paralysis, drug-induced paraplegia, nerve damage + paralysis, recovery + paraplegia

I can find general information, but the specifics that I'm looking for is a little more difficult to find. Any help would be great, thanks!

A woman's period in Victorian Era

I've tried googling this in a few different ways but can't seem to find much info.
Basically I wanted to write a scene in my victorian steampunk novel about my two princesses - the elder is 17 and the younger 13/14. In the story their mother is having an affair with a duke and lately the relationship with her daughters has also deteriorated. So when the younger daughter gets her period, she goes to her older sister to tell her about it rather than her mother.

What I need to know is, how did the victorian's view a woman's menstrual cycle?  I can't find out if they thought of it the same as it is today, where it's just thought of as a natural part of life so you deal with it and can usually talk about it comfortably. Or did they think about it differently? Will this scene actually work the way I want it to? Also what did they do in terms of cleanliness?

Thanks ahead of time, you guys are awesome here.

Effect of total sunlight deprivation on skin color

My story is set in the 2030s on Mars.

A group of human scientists from Earth have discovered an underground, alien-made habitat with humans inside it, and I'm wondering what color the skin of the habitat-dwelling humans would be. They were all taken from what would today be Ohio, in the mid-1100s CE, and none of them have ever been exposed to sunlight (or any other kind of ultraviolet radiation) at any point in their lives.

I know that the skin generates melanin to protect itself against UV rays, and that darker-skinned humans don't have more melanocytes than fairer-skinned humans, but rather their melanocytes produce more melanin with the same amount of exposure - I just don't know how much melanin would be produced with *no* ultraviolet exposure. It doesn't make sense that there wouldn't be any at all, as I gather that there's a range of colors in newborn skin.

Also, I assume that their hair would be black or dark brown, even without exposure to sunlight, since typically sunlight lightens hair rather than darkening it. Am I on the wrong track here? [Edit: I know people can have light hair without sun exposure, but since people can have dark hair without sun exposure, melanin in hair doesn't need to be "activated" - so if the population initially had dark hair, they'd still have dark hair centuries later. Right?]

(I know the sunlight-deprived individuals will need a variety of supplements, and they're not being kept in the dark, just away from sunlight. This will have gone on for generations by the time they appear in the story I'm writing, but I'm pretty sure 800-900 years is too little time for their *genes* to be affected.)

Google searches: "melanin"; "skin color without sunlight", "sunlight deprivation", "newborn skin color"
Wikipedia: Human skin color, Melanogenesis, Melanin, Sun tanning
I have also read http://community.livejournal.com/little_details/1982388.html (which gives me the effects of not being in sunlight for a while, but not what would happen to someone who had never been in sunlight)

[Edit: The original post said "600-700 years". This is because I can't do math. Obviously 1100s to 2030s is 930 to 840 years.]

Parts of a coat....

Okay, really not finding anything for this, and possibly i simply don't know the right terms to use to search. I'm trying to find out if there is a particular name for the parts of long 'duster' style coat, like a cowboy would wear? I was thinking 'skirt', but that would seem to only apply to something like a frock coat, and 'tails' doesn't seem right, either.

More specifically, i want to know what the long parts that cover the legs are called, if they're called anything at all.

Thank you!
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