tomhvrdy (tomhvrdy) wrote in little_details,

debilitating illness in scifi

I've been developing an original sci-fi universe. It's essentially a series of colonies built on the ocean floor (a la Bioshock) where the majority of the population is essentially used for manual labor and thought of as lesser by those living on the surface. They aren't treated particularly well and suffice to say that their healthcare is pretty atrocious. There's a large corporation that most of the people work for doing said manual labor, and it isn't particularly unheard of for people to be injured on the job on a pretty regular basis. At this point, the actual types of work that they do is pretty vague but they're definitely working with a lot of heavy machinery, the environment that they're in almost certainly leaks ocean water semi-regularly, they're exposed to radiation and a myriad of other dangerous chemicals, and I've toyed with the idea of exposure to some sort of depressuriazation events. I'm also open to any other suggestions that might influence the character/criteria I'm about to describe and make it easier, lol.

So one of the characters is in her late 20s, and worked for the corporation since she was a teenager until the last year or so when she became too sick to continue working. Whatever is wrong with her is in some way directly tied to her work, as she recieves a small stipend from the corporation to help support her. She has difficulty breathing, and I've thought about chronic pneumonia but of course that's likely to be a side effect to her illness rather than the primary cause. She may be bedridden for days at a time, but she isn't 100% incapacitated and is able to get out of the house at least occasionally. I've also thought about permanent damage caused by decompression sickness, which is possible but I'm also not sure if it's... Enough? From the research I've done, it seems that the long-term effects of DCS would likely be primarily neurological in nature.

I've researched illnesses that affect divers, tuberculosis & pneumonia, common illnesses on submarines... I'm not really sure where else to go from there. So any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Tags: ~medicine: illnesses to order
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