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underthecity
03-02-2010, 06:32 PM
I just added a scene to my story wherein a character just drank some alcohol she thought was fine, but had been secretly poisoned by another character to kill her.

The poison could have been arsenic or something easily obtainable.

I googled the question, but didn't find anything.

What would it feel like if you drank poisoned alcohol? I'm looking for a quick death. If not, then at least unconsciousness within five minutes.

Also, let's say the poison is arsenic or strychnine. The alcohol is in a flask. Say some of the good alcohol was dumped out and the poison added to it. How much poison?

The scene takes place in that character's POV, and continues until she blacks out. I'm guessing at what the physical symptoms would be, but I'm sure there must be some facts about what actually happens.

(And a rep point gets awarded for whoever can describe what it feels like to die.)

DeleyanLee
03-02-2010, 06:37 PM
Well, I never drank poison (I'd think description on that would depend on if there was any odor/flavor to the poison and whatever the physical effects are), but I do know that arsenic is NOT normally a fast death, unless it's in extreme doses and that's hard to hide the taste of.

As for dying, I did that once. It didn't stick, needless to say. I was a kid and stuck a hairpin into an electrical socket. Dying was a lot like going to sleep or going under anathesia (sp?), interestingly enough. One moment I was awake, I knew what I was doing, and then there's nothing and the next thing I know I "woke up" with my dad shaking me and I hurt like I'd never hurt before (or since).

Probably not that helpful, eh?


I have a book of poisons at home I can reference, if you can wait that long since I'm at work at the moment. PM me if you'd like to discuss possibilities.

Alpha Echo
03-02-2010, 06:39 PM
Well, I can give you the info I'm using for my latest WIP. It describes what it's like to die from different poisons.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4113983

Very interesting read. Here's some highlights:


Aconite

The poison takes effect quickly. The victim will experience numbness and tingling in the mouth and throat within minutes of consuming the poison, both of which will feel parched. If the dose is large, it produces a severe burning sensation from throat to abdomen. The tingling feeling soon spreads to the hands and feet, and subsequently the whole body; the skin and extremities cold and clammy to the touch; yet at the same time the victim will feel as though his limbs are being flayed. This is followed by a loss of power in the legs and the dulling of sight and hearing, although the victim will be clear-headed until death comes. Muscular twitching may result in convulsions, the pulse will weaken and pupils dilate, and the slightest exertion brings a fatal syncope. Aconite will poison all organs in turn, but death is usually from failure of the respiratory system – between eight minutes and four hours after the symptoms begin.

(that's what I'm using)


Antimony

The typical symptoms of antimony poisoning are as follows: a burning sensation in the throat and difficulty in swallowing, followed by violent stomach pains, incessant vomiting and diarrhoea. This is accompanied by fainting and extreme depression brought on by the victim's premonition of death. The pulse accelerates, but the decrease of blood pressure eventually causes the pulse to become slow and irregular. The victim will perspire profusely, and his skin will be cold and clammy to the touch, with the extremities exhibiting cyanosis. Sometimes cramps in the calves lead to spasmodic contraction. Vertigo and repeated syncope eventually causes loss of consciousness. Death comes as a result of heart failure.


Aresenic

The symptoms of arsenic poisoning vary according to dose and form. However, the typical symptoms are: initial irritation and burning sensation in the throat, faintness, nausea and depression accompanied by sickness. This is followed by the regurgitation of food, and subsequently mucous specked with blood. Abdominal pain follows, which may be aggravated by the merest touch, and which feels as though red hot coals have been applied to the stomach. By now the victim experiences throat constriction, and the tongue is covered by a layer of white 'fur'. Within 12 to 18 hours the symptoms progress to violent diarrhoea accompanied by pain – especially from the cramp in the calves – and tenesmus. The pulse becomes weak, rapid, and irregular. By this stage, collapse will come rapidly, and the patient dies while still conscious. There is a marked manifestation of cyanosis, caused by lack of oxygen, and post mortem will reveal that the lining membrane of the stomach is badly inflamed and ulcerated.


Strychnine

Death by strychnine is truly one of the most horrific ways to die. It begins with a general feeling of restlessness and a feeling of impending suffocation. As the poison spreads through the body, the facial muscles contract, and the face is drawn into a gruesome characteristic grin called risus sardonicus. Other muscles of the body will subsequently become similarly affected, causing the body to be violently and spasmodically jerked into all sorts of contortions – bent backward like a bow one minute, with the head and heels resting on the surface (a condition known as opisthotonos), and twisted in the other direction off the bed in the next. These paroxysms will last for several minutes, after which there is a period of relative quiet, during which time the victim will often complain of exhaustion and great thirst. But this is no sign of convalescence, for the next attack begins right after, and even more violently. The stomach muscles will harden and tense, the face will grow livid, with the jaws clenched shut in the fashion of lockjaw; observers will perceive the victim's eyeballs to be staring and prominent in a disturbing manner. Through all this agony, the victim remains fully conscious of the unravelling horrors.

The attacks will succeed one another with increasing rapidity, until the victim eventually dies from suffocation due to the paralysis of respiratory muscles – while still conscious. There may be an interval of up to two or three hours between the time of administration and the onset of the symptoms, but once the horror begins, there is only a speedy death or a speedy recovery for the victim.

There's a ton of information on that website including famous killers that used poison (or infamous.)

Hope that helps!

underthecity
03-02-2010, 06:49 PM
Thanks, both of you. Deleyan, your description of dieing is kind of what I've written, so that's helpful.

Alpha Echo, that's very helpful. In the first selection, the heading says "Aconite" and the paragraph says "acotine." Which is it? I like the quickness of this poison, I wonder where Miss Average Girl could obtain some.

That's another issue. I already know exactly when this character adds the poison to the flask, but I just don't know where she would obtain it. This scene takes place in 1924. Alcohol poisonings were common then, which was why I thought of arsenic.

The strychnine death sounds especially horrible.

Alpha Echo
03-02-2010, 06:55 PM
It's Aconite. I guess it was a typo in the article. I fixed it. I'm using the Acotine b/c I like that the victim loses so much but keeps his head. My killer wants to watch him die, and for him to know who his murderer is and why he's being killed.

It is harder to get, but possible. There was a very recent murder, using this stuff. I still have to work out the details and figure out how my MC got her hands on the stuff, but she's also putting it in his alcohol. It helped that in the article (I didn't quote it) it says it disolves in alcohol.

DeleyanLee
03-02-2010, 06:57 PM
Thanks, both of you. Deleyan, your description of dieing is kind of what I've written, so that's helpful.

Alpha Echo, that's very helpful. In the first selection, the heading says "Aconite" and the paragraph says "acotine." Which is it? I like the quickness of this poison, I wonder where Miss Average Girl could obtain some.

That's another issue. I already know exactly when this character adds the poison to the flask, but I just don't know where she would obtain it. This scene takes place in 1924. Alcohol poisonings were common then, which was why I thought of arsenic.

The strychnine death sounds especially horrible.

It's "wood alcohol" poisonings, not just alcohol. Ethanol was easy for a bad bootlegger to make, or mix in with good stuff and highly deadly. And, in general, it tasted just like bootleg so it's not a problem to hide it in a flask.

stitchingirl
03-02-2010, 07:37 PM
Actually, in one medical class that I took, the instructor said that anesthesia is the closest that you can get to dying, without actually dying.

Then when I had to get my back worked on and they gave me a local anesthesia, I kept thinking about that. Counting backwards. "100...99...am I dying?...98....is this what dying's like?..97...it feels like going to sleep..."

Alpha Echo
03-02-2010, 07:46 PM
That's interesting, stitch. Kinda makes it freaky to go under anesthesia though.

underthecity
03-02-2010, 08:02 PM
The character who poisons the other character is a dancer in a Los Angeles speakeasy (think Some Like it Hot). She says once in the story that they only serve bootleg there.

It's possible that the club has collected tainted bootleg that was put in storage for later disposal, wood alcohol, and the like. Maybe she got it from there.

waylander
03-02-2010, 08:09 PM
It's "wood alcohol" poisonings, not just alcohol. Ethanol was easy for a bad bootlegger to make, or mix in with good stuff and highly deadly. And, in general, it tasted just like bootleg so it's not a problem to hide it in a flask.


Actually it is methanol that is the poisonous one, ethanol is the safe one.

DeleyanLee
03-02-2010, 08:30 PM
Actually it is methanol that is the poisonous one, ethanol is the safe one.

Oopsie! Thanks for the correction. As I mentioned before, my handy-dandy poison book is at home.

It would look really weird to have at my desk in the doctor's office. ;)

underthecity
03-02-2010, 08:57 PM
I'm leaning toward wood alcohol, or methanol as waylander and deleyanlee mentioned. As for toxicity, wikipedia says:
The initial symptoms of methanol intoxication include central nervous system depression, headache, dizziness, nausea, lack of coordination, confusion, and with sufficiently large doses, unconsciousness and death. It reports that 4 ounces would be the toxic level. I think I can make that work, and would be easiest for the character to obtain.

Perhaps I can make the victim have no sense of taste (I've known two people with no sense of taste, my Grandpa and one other guy. I don't believe my uncle has it either.). That way, the victim wouldn't know she was drinking tainted liquor.

DeleyanLee
03-02-2010, 09:02 PM
* raises hand. I also have very little sense of taste (outside of the basic sweet, sour, bitter, bittersweet) and the only things I can taste, I'm highly allergic to, so it works well. My "taste" is more texture-based than anything else.

However, my sense of smell is normal. :D

underthecity
03-02-2010, 09:35 PM
However, my sense of smell is normal. :D
Really? I always thought the two went together as a package deal.

My grandpa couldn't taste or smell.

backslashbaby
03-02-2010, 10:01 PM
I fell into a coma and nearly died from a toxic level of a prescription antidepressant [I metabolize its class badly], if that helps anything.

I went from totally fine and upbeat to excruciatingly sick with vomiting. I thought I had the stomach flu very suddenly. After a couple of hours I got very tired... very soon so tired that I could only speak in the teeniest voice before falling unconscious.

That was it. It doesn't sound much different than vomiting and unconsciousness, but it was the 'so tired' part that was so strange and unusual feeling.

DeleyanLee
03-02-2010, 10:05 PM
Really? I always thought the two went together as a package deal.

My grandpa couldn't taste or smell.

Per a long-ago doctor, it's because of my physical lack of taste buds. ;)

Cybernaught
03-02-2010, 10:11 PM
If I ever decide to poison myself, I'll be sure to let you know what it feels like before I die, though I want an acknowledgment in your story when it gets published.

underthecity
03-03-2010, 01:43 AM
Thanks for everyone's input.

Cybernaught, contact me through a Ouija board and let me know what it was like.

:)

frimble3
03-03-2010, 02:41 AM
What's she supposed to be having in her flask? If her normal tipple was something strong flavoured like rum or brandy, that would help hide the wood alcohol. Did they have peppermint schnapps back then?

underthecity
03-03-2010, 02:47 AM
She had "pre-Prohibition whiskey" inside the flask.

I've written the scene, first draft anyway, of the actual poisoning. The character obtained a bottle of wood alcohol from the club she worked in, took a swig from the victim's flask, dumped out the remainder in the umbrella stand, then refilled it with the wood alcohol.

The victim, had no sense of taste. The character knew this. (And it has been established she had no sense of taste.)

The perfect crime.

Thanks, everyone.

Lhun
03-03-2010, 06:51 PM
I'm leaning toward wood alcohol, or methanol as waylander and deleyanlee mentioned. As for toxicity, wikipedia says: It reports that 4 ounces would be the toxic level. I think I can make that work, and would be easiest for the character to obtain.Fun fact: methanol as such isn't poisonous (unless taken in quantities high enough for a "regular" alcohol poisoning), but it is metabolized into formaldehyde (yes, the stuff used to preserve corpses) and formic acid, which causes the actual damage.
One treatment for methanol poisoning is to top up the patient with regular alcohol, since the enzyme that breaks down the methanol has higher affinity for ethanol. If the blood ethanol is kept high enough until the methanol is washed out of the system, the production of formic acid will be kept low and the patient survives.
In other words: a really heavy drinker might actually survive a poisoning attempt with methanol. We're talking dead drunk for hours here though, not just half a bottle of beer to go with the methanol spiked whiskey.

waylander
03-03-2010, 07:28 PM
Methanol poisoning also causes blindness

underthecity
03-03-2010, 08:45 PM
When I was researching my third book, I came across a news item mentioning the name of the first person to die from poisoned alochol. It actually occurred the night Prohibition when into effect. This man drank wood alcohol and died the same night.

Lhun
03-04-2010, 03:16 AM
When I was researching my third book, I came across a news item mentioning the name of the first person to die from poisoned alochol. It actually occurred the night Prohibition when into effect. This man drank wood alcohol and died the same night.That should probably be called first documented case in the US. I'd bet good money that people have poisoned themselves with methanol ever since they invented the distillation process. At least a couple of thousand years. (Though early on, they froze out the water to get the same effect. Actual distillation isn't too old)

underthecity
03-04-2010, 03:57 AM
I'd bet good money that people have poisoned themselves with methanol ever since they invented the distillation process.

And I'm sure that's true.

I looked up the article in my records. It's dated January 20, 1920. The man's name was Clifford O'Neal, 30. The coroner was investigating whether wood alcohol O'Neal drank was sold to him as whiskey. "The wood alcohol was in an unlabeled bottle. Friends of O'Neal told the coroner he drank the poison, believing it to be a remedy for a cold. The death was the first from wood alcohol poisoning in Hamilton County since Prohibition."

There's another article on another page that mentions that whiskey "is the only effective remedy against influenza."

shaldna
03-11-2010, 05:04 PM
I got poisoned once (not intentionally, stupid story so I won't repeat it) and it started out like a flu feeling, I felt very heavy, increasingly dizzy, and nauseas - it felt like being drunk, it was not pleasant.

Then the nausea turned to cramps, and my eye sight started to go muzzy until I passed out.

I don't remember much after that, except the doctor at the hospital assuring me 'It's fine, we see this all the time.'

Hmmm.