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StarryEyes
09-10-2012, 12:18 PM
In the story I am currently writing, one of my characters gets wounded in the abdomen by a red-hot sword. The blade penetrates her about 10 centimeters (or 4 inches) and she receives almost immediate treatment in a hospital. The heat of the sword causes the wound to cauterize, but obviously the character still needs time to heal. She is an 18-year-old female.

How long would it take for her to be able to walk again, and when should she be completely healed?

Thanks :)

Bufty
09-10-2012, 01:53 PM
You said 'penetrates'.

I'm no doctor but ....a 'sword'?...and 'cauterise'? I would be surprised if four inches of red hot sword into the abdomen did anything other than create first degree burns and kill her to boot.

I'm curious to see responses from those who may know.

shaldna
09-10-2012, 03:16 PM
It depends as well where the wound is - abdomen wounds are very dangerous because there are so many major organs relatively close to the surface.

In addition, if the stomach is perforated, you have between 15 and 30 minutes to fix it.

Cauterising an internal wound can actually cause problems when it comes to piecing things back together - cauterisation essentially seals the tissue - if it's burned then you'll have to cut away the burned portions before you put it back together again as that tissue is dead now.

jclarkdawe
09-10-2012, 04:53 PM
Personally I'm wondering about the wielder of the sword. If it's red hot, you're talking temperatures in excess of 700 degrees F. Swords are metal, and that metal extends into the handle. Even if the handle has some insulation surrounding the metal tang, it's still going to be hot. Very, very hot. Probably hot enough to burn the wielder's hand.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

StarryEyes
09-10-2012, 06:15 PM
Thank you for your replies!

Honestly, I had absolutely no idea about whether or not it would be possible when I decided that would happen... :D

It's a fantasy novel, and the nurse who saves the character has a healing ability, so normally it shouldn't be too difficult to "piece things back together" to use your words, shaldna :) However it isn't powerful enough to heal the wound completely, only to prevent her from dying. I can always make the wound less deep or possibly let the sword make a gash along her stomach instead of penetrating it. Would that be more plausible?

StarryEyes
09-10-2012, 06:16 PM
I definitely want the sword to be hot though, enough to burn her.

WriteKnight
09-10-2012, 07:30 PM
Magic is a tricky thing to get away with these days. Sophisticated readers want to see some limitations to its ability, they also like to see some sort of 'plausible' physics or psychological theory behind it.

So yeah - a thrust into an abdomen with a red hot sword? Dead is what I'm reading. Cut or slice is better. Because then the blade cauterizes as you say.

Red Hot sword? Okay... as JC points out - let's have an explanation on how the wielder can handle it. The magic flame is somehow restricted to the blade... the grip on the hilt is made of 'hand wavium' - some mysterious alloy the protects the hand - whatever. Let's see the problems addressed, and then how the magic works.

woozy
09-11-2012, 10:21 AM
I don't have any problem with a magic red hot blade. I can easily assume heat is extremely localized and insulated and restricted directly to the blade.

However it will make your magic all the stronger if somewhere, not nescessarily this scene, a few pointers as to how the heat magic works were included.

StarryEyes
09-11-2012, 03:02 PM
Thank you everyone! I really appreciate it!

I will slice her abdomen open instead, since that's more plausible ;)


However it will make your magic all the stronger if somewhere, not nescessarily this scene, a few pointers as to how the heat magic works were included.

Yep, I explain how it works earlier on. And I completely agree on making magic explainable. I always get very frustrated when a magician is just able to make things happen/appear/change for no reason and with no apparent limitations, that's why I'm really trying to work around it in this story :)

shaldna
09-11-2012, 03:39 PM
It's a fantasy novel, and the nurse who saves the character has a healing ability, so normally it shouldn't be too difficult to "piece things back together" to use your words, shaldna :) However it isn't powerful enough to heal the wound completely, only to prevent her from dying. I can always make the wound less deep or possibly let the sword make a gash along her stomach instead of penetrating it. Would that be more plausible?


Magic is a tricky thing to get away with these days. Sophisticated readers want to see some limitations to its ability, they also like to see some sort of 'plausible' physics or psychological theory behind it.

This.

Magic shouldn't be used as a cure-all plot device, so it needs to have limitations. From reading what you've said the first thought that springs to mind is how a 'healer' can deal with dead tissue - which is what the burned tissue is at that stage. For me, as a reader, if the healer was able to 'fix' that, then I would be pretty annoyed.

Pallas Athene
09-11-2012, 05:58 PM
Thank you everyone! I really appreciate it!

I will slice her abdomen open instead, since that's more plausible ;)



Yep, I explain how it works earlier on. And I completely agree on making magic explainable. I always get very frustrated when a magician is just able to make things happen/appear/change for no reason and with no apparent limitations, that's why I'm really trying to work around it in this story :)


I'd go for a stab wound rather than a slashing wound actually- almost all of the organs in the abdomen are tucked up into the rib cage behind the lungs, and even the kidneys are under the rib cage on the sides. A stab to anywhere between the last couple of ribs and the hips isn't likely to hit anything besides intestine, and the intestines are actually fairly loose in the abdomen, which is why sometimes they can get twisted around themselves and land people in the hospital. So one portion of the intestine may be punctured, but think of it like trying to stab jello- things move out of the way.

With a slashing wound, especially one that cauterizes as it cuts, unless it's *very* shallow, will do much more damage to the muscles, because putting those edges back together is that much more difficult. Because of the way the intestines sit in the abdomen, you're likely to do much more damage to them as well. Then, even if the edges have been cauterized, you still get the intestines and their contents exposed to the air, which will cause sepsis either from bacteria from the air or from intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity.

Edit: To actually answer your question, a wound like that- stab or slash- would probably mean several days in the hospital to make sure no infection has occurred then several weeks of taking it easy to let the muscles heal.

StarryEyes
09-11-2012, 06:58 PM
I'd go for a stab wound rather than a slashing wound actually- almost all of the organs in the abdomen are tucked up into the rib cage behind the lungs, and even the kidneys are under the rib cage on the sides. A stab to anywhere between the last couple of ribs and the hips isn't likely to hit anything besides intestine, and the intestines are actually fairly loose in the abdomen, which is why sometimes they can get twisted around themselves and land people in the hospital. So one portion of the intestine may be punctured, but think of it like trying to stab jello- things move out of the way.

With a slashing wound, especially one that cauterizes as it cuts, unless it's *very* shallow, will do much more damage to the muscles, because putting those edges back together is that much more difficult. Because of the way the intestines sit in the abdomen, you're likely to do much more damage to them as well. Then, even if the edges have been cauterized, you still get the intestines and their contents exposed to the air, which will cause sepsis either from bacteria from the air or from intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity.

Edit: To actually answer your question, a wound like that- stab or slash- would probably mean several days in the hospital to make sure no infection has occurred then several weeks of taking it easy to let the muscles heal.

Wow, thank you for all the information!

I'm thinking the character could get a slashing wound which would cauterise, but then the healer could use her magic to prevent an infection. She wouldn't deal with the dead skin and just leave it to heal "normally". The character would still need a lot of recovery time and have a scar (which is something I had originally planned).