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pyropath
09-05-2012, 08:18 AM
Hi guys!
This is my first post here and I found this forum doing research the other night and this section seems incredibly helpful, so I figured I would come here to ask my question.
I'm currently writing a Young Adult Dystopia. It takes place in the future, but it's not like they have super advanced medicine. In this case, a male character, about 19 years old, around six feet tall, average weight, in good health is stabbed by an enemy soldier once to the left side of his stomach.
I don't have any specifics in the story about what kind of knife it was, but almost immediately after, he pulls the knife out to continue on his mission of saving the girl he loves. He patches himself up, but doesn't do much other than that.
Later on in the story, about a day after the injury is sustained, his girlfriend fixes his bandages for him, but I'm hesitant to write that bit because I don't quite know how dangerous a stab wound of that nature would be. Would it be something that heals over time on it's own? Or is it something that absolutely needs medical attention? How long would it take for him to be completely back to normal without medical attention? I need to know so I can make any necessary changes to the plot to accomodate.
I hope I gave enough info to get some help!

James D. Macdonald
09-05-2012, 08:33 AM
By left side of the stomach do you mean left side of the abdomen?

Basically ... stab wounds can be anything from trivial to dead-right-there.

He could have a perforated bowel. If so, he's dead, in excruciating pain, in anything from hours to days.

Left side, could have hit the spleen. He's dead of internal bleeding, in minutes to hours.

Or, he could have lucked out and it's missed all the organs. Just muscle damage. I hope he's keeping it clean because stab wounds tend to close over the surface while dirt and stuff is kept inside. Without antibiotics he's dead of peritonitis in days to weeks.

What the girlfriend will probably find is the area is hot, swollen, dripping pus, painful, and tender.

May I suggest you check out Medicine for the Backcountry by Hubbell and Tilton and Where There is No Doctor by David Werner.

Available free is the out-of-copyright Backwoods Surgery and Medicine by Charles Moody.

pyropath
09-05-2012, 08:42 AM
By left side of the stomach do you mean left side of the abdomen?

Basically ... stab wounds can be anything from trivial to dead-right-there.

He could have a perforated bowel. If so, he's dead, in excruciating pain, in anything from hours to days.

Left side, could have hit the spleen. He's dead of internal bleeding, in minutes to hours.

Or, he could have lucked out and it's missed all the organs. Just muscle damage. I hope he's keeping it clean because stab wounds tend to close over the surface while dirt and stuff is kept inside. Without antibiotics he's dead of peritonitis in days to weeks.

What the girlfriend will probably find is the area is hot, swollen, dripping pus, painful, and tender.

May I suggest you check out Medicine for the Backcountry by Hubbell and Tilton and Where There is No Doctor by David Werner.

Available free is the out-of-copyright Backwoods Surgery and Medicine by Charles Moody.

Thank you! This is actually incredibly helpful! Now I know I definitely need to add in a part where they need to find a doctor because I really do not want it to be unrealistic.

Niniva
09-05-2012, 08:51 AM
Wow, Uncle Jim is utterly correct.

I'll add some smaller details. Depth is important. Stabbed with a pairing knife an inch deep is less likely to hit something than one of those Rambo rib-ticklers to the hilt.

Shape is important. Thin blades do much less damage. A more triangular blade leaves a hole that will refuse to heal.

"Wiggle" is important. A straight in and out strike does less damage than in and stir.

Usually, one would prefer to "cork" the wound with the knife; pulling it out can increase total blood loss.

Different bacteria on the knife will have different effects. Tetanus, for example, causes lockjaw. Some other (forgot which) common bacteria has a cyan pus with the smell one associates with recovering burn victims. Another has a grape scent. Gram negative (or was that positive) well, one or the other has pyrogenic substances in the cell walls, so when the body kills them, the person runs a fever.

As for how long, I'd give him a fever and research it. Decide which bacteria is attacking him and how long it takes to recover. Maybe some helpful fungus concoction from the local witch doctor.

shaldna
09-05-2012, 12:32 PM
stab wounds vary depending on where you are stabbed and what you are stabbed with.

For instance, you said he was stabbed in the stomach - the stomach causes all sorts of issues because when you rupture the stomach you've got between 15 and 30 minutes to fix it or you're going to die.

Stabbed in the arm or leg isn't such a big issue - clean it up and dress it and your probably going to be fine.

The abdomen has a lot going on inside apart from the stomach - there are a multitude of organs, veins and major arteries. Hit any one of them and you could easily be looking at lights out.

Also, if you're stabbed with a clean edge the wound is easier to treat - if you're stabbed with a serated edge you could be looking at tearing and a lot of problems when it comes to putting you back together again. Aditionally if you are stabbed with something, anything at all really, but specifically something 'dirty' such as broken glass etc, you could be looking at infection - at best some irritation, at worse sepsis.

Anninyn
09-05-2012, 12:48 PM
What everyone else said.

As an additional note, while I've not been stabbed, my husband has. If you want a description of the physical sensation etc I can tell you what he told me.