March 16th, 2011

Illness-to-Order (Terminal Illness)

Setting: Modern day Cardiff, 22 year old female: character A.

Basically Character A needs an illness that wouldn't manifest itself in any way that would send her to the doctors until it's far too late. I want around a 2 month life expectancy from diagnosis to the end (which as far as I can tell, should be relatively 'easy' since life expectancy varies so much from person to person) but for those 2 months she needs to have a fair degree of activity. She's a drummer, and I need her to be able to play for most of that period (her band are writing their second album, and she needs to be able to participate). She doesn't however need to be able to play well, they never record her parts, she just needs to be able to play well enough to transmit her ideas to the rest of her band.

My initial idea was a brain tumor, the symptoms of headaches and nausea are pretty maskable by a lifestyle of lots of drinking and partying. I'm not sure though, having looked up the symptoms, it seems like quite a lot of them might get a bit in the way of my aims for her, plus I don't want to overlook a illness that'd be a far better fit simply because I have no knowlege of it and it didn't pop up in google.

So basically I need an illness that would be suddenly diagnosed in a 22 year old female that would give her a life expectancy of around 2 months but still allow her to play drums for most of that period. The initial diagnosis doesn't have to acknowlege the short life expectancy, e.g. have high hopes for potential treatment until the condition is fully understood, in fact, it would probably be helpful.

Things I have searched: I've looked through most of the things that come up when you google brain tumor symptoms, and through the types of brain tumors, googled 'list of terminal illnesses' in various combinations, and 'types of cancer' and put the types of symptoms I'm thinking into WebMD to see if anything popped up.

physical symptoms of vascular dementia

Research: sites like Mayo Clinic, helpguide, medline, and alz.org.

Modern-day setting. My character's a 20-something woman who's overweight, leads an inactive lifestyle, doesn't eat well, and is neurotic, brooding and perpetually stressed (same character I posted about some time ago). I'm playing with the idea of her having vascular (multi-infarct) dementia, except that the symptoms as discussed in the sites I visited were too vague.

I understand that vascular dementia symptoms are supposed to be subtle - does this mean they're really just "mild" versions of stroke symptoms? If, for example, in a stroke one side of the lower lip hangs down, does it hang down just a little bit in a mild vascular dementia stroke? Would you still be able to smile and move your lips when you make faces as if nothing's wrong?

Modern Men in an Ancient World and Related Questions

The Time Period: November 27, 1095/ April 8, 2005
The Location: Vatican City
The Research: Well, this time period has always been fascinating to me because what happens in this era irrevocably alters the course of Western culture. I've read several books on the Crusades and done some browsing on the Internet. Of course, my issue isn't the history but rather technology.

My major obstacle in research is that I am really not sure what to look for. I've searched things like, "Modern technology, Medieval World" and variations of that and have gotten a bunch of conspiracy theories. I also tried to look up people attempting to develop areas experiencing severe technological lag. In an attempt to help me, a friend suggested a book called 1632, which deals with a similar subject but thus far I haven't found anything particularly useful. (It is a nice read though.)

The Situation: Oh, yes. Right.

So basically, as a part of a novella I am writing, the Vatican winds up getting sent back in time during the funeral of Pope John Paul II to the First Crusade. (Don't ask, it's a long story.) The people in the Square are understandably unnerved by the sudden inexplicable change in Rome's skyline and the people of Medieval Rome are understandably unnerved by the sudden Dome that has appeared in their city. Suffice to say, everyone is fairly unnerved by the event.

The main focus of this is to explore the consequences of two very different but vaguely similar groups suddenly coming in contact with each other. There is a lot of culture shock, miscommunications, excommunications, a terrible plague and a derailed Crusade before everything gets sorted out.

The Questions:

Alright, so I (think) I've got most of the historical facts down. However, there are three areas which I really need help with so I do not make a fool of myself.

1.) Technology. Namely, how fast will technology progress and spread in this scenario? Any significant improvements for Italia in the first year? What sort of advancements will the world see ten years after the event? How about twenty-five? A century? Rome will definitely by the main and most obvious benefactor from this and will likely be the global leader in this early Renaissance, however I don't know how fast their knowledge would spread to other cities. Would information spread fast enough to have a direct impact on any strategies in the Holy Land?

2.) Housing. From what I have been able to gather, approximately 1.25 million people were within Vatican City during the Requiem Mass for Pope John Paul II. Although the Church would obviously house several of these people and many would leave the region for their homelands, they most certainly do not have the space or resources for the remainder. What I am asking is, is there anywhere in the surrounding area to put all these people. Rome by itself has nowhere near enough infrastructure to give them all shelter. What can the Cardinals do, if anything, for the suddenly homeless crowd?

3.) How closely does modern language resemble its older counterpart? Would an Englishman or an American be able to communicate with another English speaker from the period? What about other languages? I am really clueless on this subject.


Thank you for your assistance. I am dreadfully sorry for any errors.