April 8th, 2010

writer's write

Older Cars and ground clearance

Time period: Present day
Location: East coast, USA
Genre; urban fantasy

What I've already searched: Google, using various cars with the term "ground clearance", looked at Edmunds and other car sites, etc.

I have a scene where my main character (a 20 year old, female college student) hits the ground and rolls (or crawls) under her car to protect herself from a magical attack. My problem is that many newer sedans don't have enough ground clearance (loosely speaking, the amount of space between the base of an automobile tire and the underside of the chassis) for even a skinny young girl to fit underneath.

I originally wrote this scene with the character having an old Honda Civic, but it looks like that won't work. I've been trying to find a car that works. What I've noticed is that SUVs and trucks seem to have the most ground clearance, while sedans have almost none. Her background is that her family is very rich, but she's rebelling against that. She drives an old car that she bought herself, from working a summer job. She isn't someone who would naturally drive a truck (too urban) and I can't see her driving an SUV. So ideally I'd like to find a sedan or wagon of some sort with high ground clearance, something from the 90's or later.

I can find ground clearance numbers for various cars on the web, but I don't have a way to relate that to how easy it is to actually get under the car (not being experienced at that myself). For example, a Volvo v70 has a ground clearance of 8.2 inches, which is represented as pretty good. Could a skinny 20 year old girl crawl under that car? If anyone has experience with fixing cars and can give me an idea of the practicality of that, it would be really helpful. Also helpful would be suggestions of sedans, wagons, or other non-SUVs/trucks with high ground clearances, or places to research the same. Thanks!
Parricide's Road, Bret Little

Thank you; Fasciotomy and Physical Therapy after Snakebite

First, just wanted to thank everyone who made suggestions to my last post, regarding my mystery photograph. We still haven't identified the model or photographer, but I have a lot more places to look!

Onto the business.

Setting: Louisiana, USA* - c. 1984
Scenario: While spending her summer vacation with family, a healthy nine year-old girl goes out on foot into the bayou/scrub* around her family's home. She sets out after dinner; several hours later she's missed. A search is organized.

At some point before she's found, she blunders into a canebrake rattlesnake (c. horridus) and is bitten on her ankle or lower leg.

Question 1 - Survival: I'm looking for a life-threatening bite, with necrosis and hemorrhage (so venom type A+B, for canebrakes)--something to leave very ugly scars that will last into adulthood. I'm not looking to kill the character, though: medical help can be as close as necessary, stopping just short of miraculous. Unfortunately, CroFab (the leading antivenom for rattler bites) will not be available until 2001, and I'm not sure how much this complicates her recovery.

Could a nine year-old girl survive an envenomed bite by a canebrake for a couple of hours? When the bite is on an extremity? She is not atypically allergic to the venom.

Question 2 - Treatment: My reading suggests that fasciotomies are a common solution to the violent swelling of tissue that results from a snakebite. (Please be careful googling/wiki'ing this if you have a weak stomach.)

Could this procedure have been performed in 1984? If so, how developed was skin-grafting technology? I see that the technique was developed in 1917; I just can't tell where the procedure was at in 1984.

Question 3 - Prognosis: Post-bite and fasciotomy, she'll have serious muscle damage; I'm wondering about walking and scarring. Looking at fasciotomy scars, it looks as though she'll have a long suture scar above the site and then a large oval patch of skin where the graft was performed--is that right? Will this scar have a distinctive texture, or will it just appear to be normal scar tissue? Will it stretch with her as she grows?

I assume she will be able to walk again unaided, in time, but will the bite and accompanying scars have any long-term effect on her ability to walk? Will she need a cane for long distances or stairs?

Googled: combinations of canebrake rattler; c. horridus; venom; bite; image; fasciotomy; prognosis; recovery; physical therapy. These searches turned up a number of awesome/awful personal anecdotes (with images!) and an article via Science Direct that discussed the limitations of CroFab for younger patients (proved to be irrelevant anyway) but I had a hard time interpreting the medicalese.

I have asked a similar question in the past, regarding a different species of snake; I did review that post as well, looking for some of these answers. Unfortunately the venom involved is very different.

Thank you all in advance for any help!