Shelley (argosy) wrote in little_details,

Terminal Illness for seemingly healthy elderly man

Forgive me, I haven't got a clue as to how to research this one. I've done a few searches on "diseases of the elderly," but what I'm looking for is so esoteric that I'm not getting anywhere.

I need an illness/disease that can do several things, all highly unlikely I'm sure, which is why I'd be eternally grateful to anyone who can point me in the right direction.

The time is present day, the place is Washington, D.C.

My character is a man in his mid to late eighties (although the age can be fudged several years if necessary). I need to find some sort of long-term terminal illness to kill him, which shouldn't be too hard, except:

1. I need him to be able to work (as a mild-mannered detective) until nearly the time of his death, within a few days at least. He can be too elderly to move around much, but he should not seem incapacitated.

2. He must know he is dying, but be able to hide it relatively well for the week or so he appears in my story. He may have pains or coughs, but dismiss them as normal for a man his age.

3. While he can appear frail and elderly, and even exhibit mild and/or chronic symptoms of something, I need him to appear more-or-less healthy for someone his age to the untrained eye. That is, he must not seem like he's about to die soon to someone who is not a doctor.

3. However--and here's the most important part--to someone who is (an almost preternaturally good) doctor, I need him to be recognizably sick with something long-term. He is not the patient of this doctor and is not examined by him, but runs across him in the course of an investigation. In other words, I need some sort of long-term illness where Doctor A could observe in the course of a few days, say, my character's odd-sounding cough and slightly jaundiced eyes or stiff joints and stomach pain (or whatever the symptoms might be, those are just examples), and say something like, "Why didn't you tell the others you were dying from Disease X?" So he can't be completely asymptomatic, either.

So that's not too much to ask, is it? *crosses fingers*
Tags: ~medicine: illnesses to order

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