April 7th, 2013

[ANON POST] Swords and major hand injuries

Hello wonderful Little Details community. I'm writing a story set roughly in Dark Age Europe (ish). In a desperate situation, a fellow very unfortunately shoves a sword blade aside with his off hand and manages to slice his palm open right down to the bone. I'm assuming this will cause some major and quite possibly irreparable damage to the nerves/muscles/tendons of the hand, but I want to make sure I get the details at least mostly right, and my hand anatomy is a little sketchy. A few questions:

1. Is this even remotely plausible? I'm pretty sure there's no way that someone could stop a full-speed sword slash without kissing goodbye to their hand, but if the sword is at a point where it doesn't have much momentum - say, the swing's been completed and the character reaches out and shoves it away before it can reverse direction - is this a conceivable scenario?

2. What's going to happen to his hand (right away)? It seems likely that he would catch the majority of the damage on the outside/pinkie side of his palm. I think I'm correct in saying that this would cause some serious problems for the ulnar nerve and the fourth/fifth fingers of the hand, but what kind of problems and exactly how serious? Will he be able to feel anything at all? Will he be able to move it? What about his other fingers? What about his wrist and arm? How quickly (if at all) is there going to be a major bloodloss/shock problem? Are bones likely to break, or are we mainly just talking slashing damage?

3. What's going to happen long-term? Hands are fiddly things - I know it will never be fully functional after that sort of injury, but exactly how non-functional is it likely to be? Will he be able to pick things up? Bend his fingers? If he loses feeling, will feeling come back a little, a lot, or not at all? How long would that sort of thing take to heal - both the serious deep-tissue and nerve damage and the more superficial skin-starting-to-knit-back-together sort of healing? Are there other complications that I might be overlooking?

I know infection would be a major, major concern, but I feel pretty confident in my ability to get that right. It's the physical damage itself that I'm not so sure about.

Questions About Medieval Era Stuff

For those of y'all who are interested and have more knowledge than I do about these things (I live in Texas, where there are few resources and Google can only take me so far). I've read several books at this point (The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England, The Archaeology of Celtic Britain & Ireland, a few translations of medieval literature, etc) and there are several questions that remain unanswered for me. I was hoping that someone out there could give me a better idea of what I'm looking for, or at least help me figure out the Google search terms I should be using. ;)

1. My story involves a timeslip between the present day and 13th century. I need some kind of item to connect the present to the past. I was thinking that jewelry would be most likely, as it has a better chance of survival. The idea I had was for my main character to find it randomly - preferably while going through some things received as part of an inheritance. Or maybe not necessarily that, she just needs to randomly find it when she wasn't looking for it, and not in a museum. My question is this: is that even possible, these days? For something that old to be kept in decent condition (and by decent, I mean recognizable and generally in one piece. I do realize some things will fade, etc.) generation after generation, without having been sold or put in a museum - does that seem likely, or too farfetched? Would such an item really survive that long without being kept in the preservational conditions that museums keep their artifacts in?

2. Part of my story involves a cave. There is a vast network of tunnels which are easy to get lost in. One of the passages leads to the sea. If someone were to have gotten lost deep in the system, far from the passage to the sea, and their body lay there undiscovered for seven hundred years, what kind of condition would the body be in? Would the hair and clothes still be there? Would the salty ocean air affect decomposition/preservation that far back (I'm thinking the body is in a branch off of a branch off of a branch in the tunnels, so its reeeeeaaallllyyyyy far back from the sea entrance), and if so, how?

This community is awesome, and I've already found the answers to lots of other questions in the archive. I would really appreciate any help that anyone out there can give me for these!