November 21st, 2009

Death from gallstones? Also, a necklace

time: 1923, place: US, probably East coast, within a state or 2 of New York.
search terms: gall bladder death (history OR historical OR ww1 OR "turn of the century")

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What I'd like to know is:
1. Could a competent doctor of that era misdiagnose gallstones as "female troubles", and if not, what relatively harmless diagnosis would fit better? (I'd like her to die at home, unexpectedly)

2. What would my character, who was 8 at the time, likely remember (medically speaking) about her mother's death? (keeping in mind that my character is interested in medicine, and thus might remember things other kids wouldn't) Other than "She was in a lot of pain" and (if I understand correctly) "It got better for a bit, just before she died".

Also, if her gall bladder won't kill her the way I want, what would?

As a minor side question, I need a necklace.
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Answers or period-appropriate resources both appreciated.

Edited to add: Would she have been autopsied? I can't seem to find out how typical autopsies would've been at the time, especially considering her family's wealth. (if I don't get responses because of the question's age, I'll repost as a separate question...)

An imperial banquet in ancient China

I’m writing a fantasy fic set in a fictitious empire, based on ancient China. Even though it’s fantasy, I hope that the empire mirrors ancient China as closely as possible. I prefer to borrow details from the Tang, Song or Ming Dynasty, and I’m worried that I might include any detail that is exclusive to pre-Tang Dynasty China by mistake.

I googled “宫廷宴会”, “imperial banquet”, “Forbidden City”, “Forbidden City AND banquet”, “Hall of Preserving Harmony” and “Versailles”. I downloaded the Virtual Forbidden City, but I thought that it wasn’t very helpful.

1) The Empress will be hosting a banquet for her officials and their families, so what is the ideal number of guests? I suppose that there should be enough guests to fill the entire hall up. However, if there are too many guests, say, 1000, then the Empress’s reputation for thrift might be ruined. According to a website, an emperor once had 200 tables for a banquet, but many guests had to sit outside the hall. I don’t want any guest to end up outside.

2) I’ve based the hall on the Hall of Preserving Harmony in the Forbidden City. Is it okay if I write that the entire hall is painted in red, inside and out? According to some websites, within the Forbidden City, some halls’ ceilings are painted with dragons. Is the Hall of Preserving Harmony one of them?

3) My sister, who had visited the Forbidden City years ago, told me that most of the halls didn’t have windows. If she’s telling the truth, won’t the halls be really dim? The banquet will begin at noon (in summer), and I wonder how dim the hall will be. If halls don’t have windows, then how does light enter? I think that the hall will be locked throughout the banquet.

4) I’m puzzled. Some sources say that you’ll have to enter the Forbidden City through the Meridian Gates; other sources say that you’ll have to enter through Tiananmen. Isn’t there a contradiction? Most sources state that you’ll have to cross many bridges. However, they don’t specify the number and location of bridges in the Forbidden City. Is it true that all the bridges and steps are made of marble? A source says that they’re made of ordinary stone, not marble.

5) If you’ve visited the Versailles and the Forbidden City, in your opinion, what is the greatest difference between these two palaces? I’ve only seen online photos, and I think that the Versailles seems more welcoming because of cushions and so on, but I might be wrong.



Development of Hebephrenia

So... I've got a hebephrenic character. As of now his symptoms aren't very severe as the disease has begun recently, but I plan to show him in the future, with the disease more developed - about 5-6 years from the start. The guy has received no treatment at all.

And, well, there my problems start.. Many sources of information I've come across contradict eachother or are very imprecise. I'd like to know the following things:

- Would it be possible to interact with the patient? I've read that after longer time without treatment, they would become completely demented. Other source has stated that the disease vanishes after puberty, but that seems really strange to me.
- Would the disease have any impact outside of mental health? I've read that the patient has got a constant fever and theyr'e prone to infections of any kind. Why would that happen?
- I've read that the patient's behaviour becomes aimless and "empty of purpose" and that they don't have much determination for anything. To what extent? What would a 'typical' hebephreniac's day look like? Let's say they live in a large house in the coutry, with one person to take care of them at most.

Tried searching for: many variants of 'disorganised schizophrenia' and 'hebephrenia', both in English and my native language.

Journalism Minor

Setting: 2002-2006 Massachusetts
Googled: journalism minor massachusetts, college journalism massachusetts

I need my character to be a Psychology major/ journalism minor at a college either in Massachusetts or close. Most schools seem only to offer the major in journalism, but I need this because she later does a 180 on her plans and becomes a journalist, but only after starting out with this combination of major/minor.

I guess she could double-major, but I'd prefer not.

So tell me, where does my character go to school?