March 23rd, 2010

Random - Flowered Books

Chemotherapy experiences?

Hey detailers!

I need some information about chemotherapy regimens and cancer, but not really the kind that can be found on Google. I've got plenty of knowledge about what kinds of drugs, how long, the procedures for surgery, the length of radiation, etc. What I need to know is the personal experiences that can't be quantified as easily in journals, although I've about killed Google Scholar, trying to find medical journals that really deal with this.

I'm looking for information from cancer survivors -- I'm interested in your experiences with chemotherapy, in specific.

My fictional patient is a 37 year old male suffering from a Type IIA osteosarcoma in his femur, near the knee. He's on a regimen of doxorubicin and cisplatin, with methotrexate during the 3rd and 4th week of the 5 week cycle.

Now, doxorubicin and cisplatin are nasty drugs with nasty side effects. I'm wondering if any of you detailers have been on both/either of these drugs, what your experiences are with them, etc. I'd be interested if you could rate your nausea levels and frequency, fatigue, lower GI distress, how quickly your hair began to fall out, etc. Like, if 10 was "give me a gun and I'll eat the bullet," how bad would you rate your experience on these drugs. What things did you try to make you feel better, and what things made you feel worse? How long after administration of the chemo did you start to feel the initial nausea? How long did it last? Same for fatigue.

Even if you weren't on that specific regimen of drugs, I'd be interested in hearing from anyone about their experiences with chemotherapy.

Additionally, my patient was not diagnosed with the sarcoma until he broke his leg surfing, from an accident that should NOT have caused a break. So, with all the chemo going on, he's also got a broken femur, again, down near the knee.

For those of you who have had broken femurs, how badly would you rate the pain? How long before you could put weight on it, even if you couldn't totally bear weight with it? Did you use a crutch? How awkward did it make getting around?

Any and all experiences would be ridiculously helpful! Thanks so much!!

Unusual (female) names

So I'm looking for a name for a female character who will commonly be known just by her first name. I'm trying to find good names that are:

* not completely made-up/brand new
* preferably based on the names of real things/concepts, but not usually used as names

I don't think I'm explaining it very well, but - as an example, think of people with (unusual) day/month names (January Jones, Wednesday Addams, etc). I don't mean words that are commonly used as names - eg 'January' would fit the criteria, but 'May' and 'June' and 'April' etc don't as they're standard names anyway. (And none of the other months sound right as names, except possibly March.)

The old Puritan names based on the virtues (Charity, Patience, Hope, etc) also qualify, but they're rather dated-sounding. Animals would be good too but everything I can think of is either rather hackneyed, or they wind up sounding like porn pseudonyms. :)

I'd prefer "names" of this type that have actually been used before as real names, but if anyone has any brilliant examples they thought of off the top of their heads, I'm open to suggestions - I'm rather floundering here! :)

Setting: near future, North-American-ish-equivalent
Research attempted: googled various combinations of "nouns as names", "unusual names", etc. Mostly these got me modern totally made-up names, or just the usual plethora of baby name sites.

How do fishes' eyes reflect light?

More to the point, will fishes' eyes gleam/flash in low light like cats' do?

I ask because I have a non-human character in a new story I'm picking at--this is probably science fantasy set in an alternate US 1930s, but it hasn't exactly settled yet--who I thought was too human for what I need. So in trying to make him more alien, I thought of giving him fishlike eyes. And then I started to write one line in a bit of character sketch where it occurred to me that I don't know how those would behave if he was standing in a dark room and now it's driving me nuts.

I was able to find on Wikipedia that bony fish do have the tapetum lucidum in their eyes that causes eyeshine in mammals, so it seems like they ought to reflect light in dim conditions. However, it's set in a different part of the eye from the one in dogs/cats/whatever, so I'm not sure exactly if it would reflect light the same way. I spent a little while making a fool of myself at the seafood case while I was at the grocery earlier today, trying to see what the fishes' eyes looked like from various angles and distances, but either they don't do anything or the store was too bright to tell. I also found an academic paper on Google that I can mostly understand, but it seems to be more about what the tapetum in teleosts is made from. There's an aquarium about an hour away and it's pretty expensive, but I'm just about to the point where I go "woo tax refund road trip!" and drive on down there with my camera flash to see what happens when I shine it on them.

Ingesting opium in early 19th century Britain

Hello all,
I have a story set in the first decade of the 19th century and one of my characters, who is located in Britain, is indulging in some opium use. How would he actually go about ingesting it? Would he smoke it, or take a pill, or drink it mixed with ethyl alcohol? I've having trouble finding how someone in that specific time and location would ingest it.

I've googled "ingesting opium early 19th century" "opium consumption", "taking opium early 19th century", and similar search terms and come up with nothing. Hope one of you can help me!

Three questions re: The Battle of Britain/the Blitz, death, the post, and the RAF

Setting: Britain, September 1940

Searched: oh god, too much to count. Pretty much every variation of "Battle of Britain dead" "dead pilots battle of britain" "shipping bodies home" "recovered bodies battle of Britain" etc. Also went through the 1940s, British history, British military, funerals, and WWII tags on here.

Question One:
I have a character whose son is stationed at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain. She sends him letters, and stuff like hand-knit socks for his birthday. My question is: how long would it take for the mail to go through whatever security measures were in place at the time? Like, say, the birthday socks. How early would she have to send them to try to get them to him by his birthday?
Related: if he writes her letters, how long would it take her to get them?

Edit: Alright, so this part sounds straightforward enough, since all I needed was a guesstimate! Thank you!

Question Two:
I have a boy who's a Flying Officer in the RAF (he's 21 and a graduate of Cranwell), in 11 Group squad during the Battle of Britain. He dies in combat (specifically how isn't really important, since the story is about what happens after that). My question is: when his body is recovered, what happens to it? How would it be returned to his family? The dogtag identity disc, I assume, would identify the body, but would they have a family member (in this case mum) identify it anyway in case of a mixup? (Edit: Nope, I just have no common sense.) Where would the body go (since they wouldn't exactly send it to her house)?

And Question Three (which kind of goes along with question two):
His mum was evacuated from London to the countryside. (It's flexible where the mum lives, so I can just change it so she moved from London to someplace a little less urban before the war broke out/before the evacuations.) I assume they wouldn't be able to spare the men to tell her in person, since the Blitz was still going strong (Edit: I guess it wouldn't technically be the Blitz, but I timed it to be right at the end of the Battle of Britain), so would she get a letter? Would there be something about the envelope - black border, official seal, something - that she would know what it was about before she opened it? Would the postman hand-deliver it?
Edit: Mkay, so that would be a telegram, not the post, and a recognized harbinger of bad news, at that. I think I've got that part worked out now.

Sorry to be such a bother! Thank you for all the help!

Edit: So I've gotten a lot of helpful input (and I feel like an idiot now, but sometimes you just have to ask a stupid question or two), but I still have one question I say that, and then it's more like two or three. How would my pilot boy's personal effects be returned home? (Not just the ones he had on his person in the crash, since that wouldn't be much at all.) Would someone bring them to his family, or would they be mailed? About how long after the telegram/letter from pilot boy's CO would that be?