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slhuang
03-19-2016, 10:12 AM
I have a character who's pretending to have had a very serious health condition that's drawn her out of circulation. It has to be believable enough that it fools the main characters for a good chunk of time (and when they're actively investigating her).

The setup for the character is that she's a celebrity and has been supposedly keeping this illness secret. She's sequestered herself with a doctor for the past six months and hasn't mixed much in public. The doctor is supposed to have been treating her. The doctor's now dead, and this is all presented as a reason for why the woman shouldn't be a suspect (because she needed the doctor to keep treating her, so would have no motive for killing the doctor).

This illness and its treatment can't cause any salient/noticeable physical symptoms, because (1) she doesn't actually have it, and (2) she can't *fake* having it, because she's been supposedly keeping it secret (when in reality it doesn't exist at all). But it should be something that would believably have interfered with her work enough that she had to lay low for a while while being treated.

Points for there being a drug regimen involved that has to be administered by syringe, but this isn't necessary (the MCs find syringes on her later but Plot Developments proceed too fast for them to look up whether she'd actually need these and whether this should in fact make them suspicious of her, so this is optional).

I hope this post wasn't too confusing. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

cornflake
03-19-2016, 10:49 AM
It isn't Lupus.

Except Lupus might work for you.

So might RA maybe?

Roxxsmom
03-19-2016, 10:51 AM
I'd consider an autoimmune disorder (http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune-information/list-of-diseases/) like systemic lupus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systemic_lupus_erythematosus). With systemic lupus, some people develop a rash on their face, but it's intermittent and can be faked easily enough.

Also, there are some neuro-degenerative conditions that might fit the bill. MS, possibly. The degree and progress of neurological symptoms varies greatly with people who have this condition, but it's certainly easy enough to fake having to walk with a cane.

A very common dangerous disease that needs to be treated with a syringe (though insulin pumps are becoming more and more common) and doesn't change a person's appearance at all is insulin-dependent diabetes. Though most diabetics don't stay with doctors to receive treatment (but this goes for other diseases as well--most are treated as outpatients, unless they're hospitalized for an acute crisis event).

There's also Addison's disease (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/symptoms-causes/dxc-20155757), which is also endocrinological. The adrenal gland doesn't produce enough corticosteroids, so the person's blood sugar and blood sodium levels can fluctuate wildly, especially when they're under stress. I had a student who had this one semester, and the poor girl got sick a lot (she was under a lot of stress and having crisis events and was in and out of the hospital). Treatment involves taking the missing hormones, but the challenge is, the body's need for corticosteroids and aldosterone vary greatly over time. I don't know if the steroid hormones are taken via injection or mouth for this condition.

There's acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/acute_encephalomyelitis/acute_encephalomyelitis.htm), which is neurological and has a course of around six months and involves treatments with corticosteroids.

There are a whole host of heart conditions and blood diseases that are pretty debilitating too.

leifwright
03-19-2016, 10:52 AM
Lupus is my vote, too. It's ill-defined and the symptoms are nebulous. Plus, Selena Gomez has it.

M.N Thorne
03-19-2016, 10:55 AM
I would say Multiple Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease could be faked over a long period of time.

Roxxsmom
03-19-2016, 10:56 AM
Another possibility would be ulcerative colitis. The symptoms are definitely ones that would keep a person, um, close to home and others at something of a distance, and they can be life threatening as well as agonizing.

be frank
03-19-2016, 10:57 AM
How about MS? Injecting beta interferon is a possible treatment for some forms. And the symptoms can be entirely invisible...

slhuang
03-19-2016, 11:00 AM
Whoa, thanks, folks! This is great.



A very common dangerous disease that needs to be treated with a syringe (though insulin pumps are becoming more and more common) and doesn't change a person's appearance at all is insulin-dependent diabetes. Though most diabetics don't stay with doctors to receive treatment (but this goes for other diseases as well--most are treated as outpatients, unless they're hospitalized for an acute crisis event).

At the moment it can't be diabetes, for Story Reasons related to this character being a compulsive liar and another character who actually *does* have diabetes. But since this is all sort of related to the same situation in the book, if anyone in this thread knows, can I tack on another question about diabetes -- how long would a character with an insulin pump be okay if they suddenly had to flee their home with no supplies?

be frank
03-19-2016, 11:19 AM
Really left field suggestion (that probably won't work for you, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway) -- how about a (potentially scandalous if it were real) pregnancy? Could easily lead to her hiding herself away from public view for 6 months...

waylander
03-19-2016, 02:38 PM
CLL

Treehouseman
03-19-2016, 03:46 PM
Apart from Leprosy (which is treated by blister-pack drugs, but she could say she picked up a very early case during a charity mission *LIES!* ) there is also Tuberculosis.

From Wikipedia: "The two antibiotics most commonly used are isoniazid (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoniazid) and rifampicin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rifampicin), and treatments can be prolonged, taking several months"

James D. Macdonald
03-19-2016, 04:38 PM
can I tack on another question about diabetes -- how long would a character with an insulin pump be okay if they suddenly had to flee their home with no supplies?

That depends on a lot of factors, but could range from unconscious in a day to nothing for years, until they go blind and get gangrene in their feet.

slhuang
03-19-2016, 05:02 PM
Thank you so much, folks!! These are so many good suggestions. I'll probably use lupus because of the variability, but I'm googling up a storm on all of them.


That depends on a lot of factors, but could range from unconscious in a day to nothing for years, until they go blind and get gangrene in their feet.

Thank you very much! Would the person with diabetes know what their ballpark safe time is? Like, would they be able to say, "I need more supplies by X time" considering their own condition/treatment, or would they not have a good idea?

eta: I have given everyone reps, and it occurs to me that I tend to sound enthusiastic in my thanks, so um... please be assured that I am only enthusiastic in my gratitude for you all's help, and though my villain is using this for a slimy purpose, I am not actually excited about real-world illnesses that real people suffer from.

Quentin Nokov
03-19-2016, 08:29 PM
Another possibility would be ulcerative colitis. The symptoms are definitely ones that would keep a person, um, close to home and others at something of a distance, and they can be life threatening as well as agonizing.

I was going to recommend Ulcerative Colitis because that's what I have. It is quite debilitating and keeps me home most of the time. I won't go anywhere where bathroom access is questionable. It can be quit uncomfortable and painful, too. Last night was a rough night for me. Weather changes / storms can affect me. Last night a storm came through and I started with flu-like symptoms, cramps, nausea, my ankles hurt too for some reason. By six o'clock this morning I was better, but my back still hurts.

As far as medicine goes, there is Humira, which is administered via syringe about every 2 weeks or so. Humira is used for Crohn's patient's most of the time, but can be given to UC patients. Crohn's is the sister disease to Ulcerative Colitis, but is much more severe because in UC, the inflammation is only in the large intestine while Crohn's can happen anywhere down the digestive tract.

During flare-ups, the sciatic nerve can ache and oh, is it uncomfortable. I've seen some people who are in pain so much they have to take narcotics and lay down. Seriously when the sciatic nerve gets involved life can get rough because that nerve goes all the way down the leg down into the feet.


Also Ulcerative Colitis makes us soooo tired all the time, especially when we're losing blood, some of us have need blood transfusions. Thankfully I've never gotten that bad, but my hemoglobin did get down below 9. The doctor threatened a hospital stay, but I recovered. I remember being so cold and sleeping for like 18 hours a day. Anemia sucks.

UC is a disease that makes you feel terrible without looking terrible at all. A lot of people get upset over the callousness and ignorance of people. "Well you don't look sick!" they say and the UC / Crohn's community can feel guilty about being on disability or food stamps because they can still do certain stuff, but they need special bathroom privileges that aren't always available in most workplace settings. Plus it's a Russian Roulette of will I feel well today or will I feel terrible. You never know how you're going to feel tomorrow, let alone in a couple hours.

The only thing about UC / Crohn's is you need to have a colonoscopy for diagnoses. I don't know if that would interfere with your plans. If all you need is the characters word then any autoimmune disease should work. Fibromyalgia is another one you could consider. Some doctors don't even believe it exists, apparently.

mirandashell
03-19-2016, 09:12 PM
I was going to suggest Fibro/CFS/ME but she wouldn't be getting regular injections from a doctor for those. Unless she's paying for some whoo - whoo treatment.

slhuang
03-20-2016, 01:18 AM
UC is a disease that makes you feel terrible without looking terrible at all. A lot of people get upset over the callousness and ignorance of people. "Well you don't look sick!" they say

This is off topic for my own thread, but I just wanted to express my deep sympathy for this. This is one of my fury buttons. "Well you don't look sick!" GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I'm really sorry you have to deal with this illness, Quentin. Thank you for sharing the details with me.


Fibromyalgia is another one you could consider. Some doctors don't even believe it exists, apparently.

Yeah, cue another fury button for me. I have a friend with fibro, and the implication that she just made it all up or something makes me want to hulk out on people. It's a terrible illness.

mirandashell
03-20-2016, 02:05 AM
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome usually gets the comment 'oh I know, I feel tired all the time'. Which makes me really want to punch that person.

If I had enough energy to lift my arm.

frimble3
03-20-2016, 03:03 AM
Thank you very much! Would the person with diabetes know what their ballpark safe time is? Like, would they be able to say, "I need more supplies by X time" considering their own condition/treatment, or would they not have a good idea?

This would depend on a lot of factors. How well does she know her body and it's symptoms? Have her sugars been so bad that she's noticed before? If she's normally well-controlled, (regular routine: meals, exercise, everything in moderation) she might not be aware of what her limits are. If she hasn't got her insulin, but is careful about her food, she could carry on for quite a while. Or, she might be the nervous type, and as soon as she can't get to her insulin or snack, she might panic.
In any case, if she's faking it, she could make up whatever version suits her needs, and if no-one around her is diabetic, who's going to question it? Most non-diabetics, or people who don't know a diabetic person only hear about diabetes if someone is having a reaction in a public place, either collapsing from low-blood sugar "Quick! Get her some orange juice!", or being arrested for 'acting drunk'. I would think there's a perception that diabetic problems are dramatic, which might work in her favour.