PDA

View Full Version : I need a fatal medical condition



Marian Perera
07-02-2018, 06:47 AM
Hey everyone,

I'm writing a historical novel set in England in the 1890s and need to set up a scene where a character, Thomas, dies. The problem is, he has to die through his cousin's deliberate inaction.

So what I wanted was for Thomas to have a medical condition where his health goes into some sort of crisis. The cousin rides off for help (it's historical, can't call an ambulance) but doesn't actually go for a doctor, and Thomas dies. It should be clear that if the doctor had arrived in time, Thomas would have survived.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what condition he could have?

Thanks in advance!

Marissa D
07-02-2018, 07:13 AM
By the 1890s they were using nitroglycerin to treat heart conditions--Thomas could have a heart condition but have run out of his pills, maybe...

Patty
07-02-2018, 07:13 AM
Opium may help cure diarrhea. Diarrhea (from cholera, diphtheria) can lead to death. Maybe he had diphtheria and died of dehydration.

https://melnickmedicalmuseum.com/2013/03/27/19ctreatment/

http://www.mifamilyhistory.org/genhelp/diseases.aspx

Also wondered about an epileptic seizure.

AW Admin
07-02-2018, 07:41 AM
Blood loss from a wound that if examined by a physician would have resulted in stitches and decreased blood loss hence survival?

Brightdreamer
07-02-2018, 08:31 AM
Blood loss from a wound that if examined by a physician would have resulted in stitches and decreased blood loss hence survival?

Injury was my first thought, too... though you could build to it with some generic symptoms like dizzy/fainting spells that render Thomas more likely to injure himself, if you want to foreshadow the Terrible Accident.

Tocotin
07-02-2018, 08:59 AM
How about diphtheria? He could get the larynx obstructed and suffocate perhaps without medical aid?

Marian Perera
07-02-2018, 02:21 PM
By the 1890s they were using nitroglycerin to treat heart conditions--Thomas could have a heart condition but have run out of his pills, maybe...

That would work pretty well. I'm going to do a bit more research into it, but if everything checks out, I'll go with this. Thanks!


Opium may help cure diarrhea. Diarrhea (from cholera, diphtheria) can lead to death. Maybe he had diphtheria and died of dehydration.

I'd like to avoid anything infectious because I don't want anyone else in the household to get ill. Of course, it's possible for him to have gone somewhere else, become infected and returned home, but that makes it a bit complicated, and this all happens in winter, when people didn't do much traveling (which is why the cousin supposedly saddling up and riding for help through the snow is a big deal).


Blood loss from a wound that if examined by a physician would have resulted in stitches and decreased blood loss hence survival?

It would have to be a pretty big wound, though, wouldn't it? Not just "I was trying to cut the strings on this parcel and the knife slipped". And Thomas doesn't do anything to antagonize anyone in his family to the point where they'd stab him. I suppose there could have been a burglary gone wrong or something like that, but it's easier plot-wise if he has a preexisting health condition.

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. Rep points all around.

Elle.
07-02-2018, 02:46 PM
What about a ruptured appendix? Thomas would be in serious abdominal pain and if left untreated would develop septicaemia and die from it.

Marian Perera
07-02-2018, 02:48 PM
What about a ruptured appendix? Thomas would be in serious abdominal pain and if left untreated would develop septicaemia and die from it.

Ooh, that's another good one. I'll have to look into how likely it is that a doctor would be able to save him.

neandermagnon
07-02-2018, 03:11 PM
Ooh, that's another good one. I'll have to look into how likely it is that a doctor would be able to save him.

If the doctor was able to operate before the appendix ruptured people were able to survive this without antibiotics as long as they don't get a severe post-surgical infection. Once it ruptures though it's a lot more dangerous and even with antibiotics it would be hard to save the patient (AFAIK people these days do survive this). IMO this fits your question well if you make it clear that the patient could've been saved it the doctor was able to operate before it ruptured.

Rob40
07-03-2018, 12:35 AM
Definitely in your time frame, but Rabies.

When it gets to the brain and begins to interfere with your nervous system, there is a 100% death guarantee. Even if there is a vacciene like we have today, it only works when it's not yet to the brain.

From Wikipedia:
French scientists, Louis Pasteur and Émile Roux, developed the first rabies vaccination in 1885. This vaccine was first used on a human on July 6, 1885, on nine-year-old Joseph Meister (1876–1940), who had been mauled by a rabid dog.

So, could go for help but comes back too late and for added torture, your character gets to watch his brother suffer through the disease and slowly die a feverish death.

Not an entirely uncommon way to die in the late 19th century!

Fingers
07-03-2018, 05:51 AM
People still had to chop wood for fires. A slip of an ax can result in nasty wounds. Blood loss and all that.

Lisa Driscoll
07-03-2018, 06:11 AM
Yeah I definitely agree with a sort of accident or injury. Maybe head trauma from a fall? The actual accident you choose could also be a big story point for you. Best of Luck.

talktidy
07-03-2018, 01:51 PM
Asthma attack?

Because my dad had it and it was a fixture of my childhood, I never took it seriously. My dad's breathing would be laboured for ten to twenty minutes, but he'd take his meds and then he'd be fine. I was appalled and astonished when I discovered people die from asthma attacks.

Marian Perera
07-10-2018, 01:04 PM
If the doctor was able to operate before the appendix ruptured people were able to survive this without antibiotics as long as they don't get a severe post-surgical infection. Once it ruptures though it's a lot more dangerous and even with antibiotics it would be hard to save the patient (AFAIK people these days do survive this). IMO this fits your question well if you make it clear that the patient could've been saved it the doctor was able to operate before it ruptured.

Thanks, this is really helpful. Though now I'm imagining how painful it must be to die from a ruptured appendix.

Marian Perera
07-10-2018, 01:07 PM
People still had to chop wood for fires. A slip of an ax can result in nasty wounds. Blood loss and all that.

The character can afford to pay at least 4 - 5 servants, so it's more likely they would be chopping wood. Of course, he could still go out with an axe to do something like cutting pine boughs to decorate the house for Christmas.


Asthma attack?

Because my dad had it and it was a fixture of my childhood, I never took it seriously. My dad's breathing would be laboured for ten to twenty minutes, but he'd take his meds and then he'd be fine. I was appalled and astonished when I discovered people die from asthma attacks.

I could check whether asthma meds were only available from doctors at that time.

Thanks for all the feedback!

Elle.
07-10-2018, 01:48 PM
Thanks, this is really helpful. Though now I'm imagining how painful it must be to die from a ruptured appendix.

I suffered one and I can confirm it is excruciating, especially once septicaemia sets in, which I also had.

mrsfauthor
07-10-2018, 04:00 PM
How about bubonic plague? Like in Dicken's Bleak House...quick and deadly. Edited to add...smallpox, pneumonia, any infection in that era.