Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Author Question: Death by Bee Sting

Amie Asks:

My character is allergic to bees. The villains plan on using bee venom to make her death look like an accident if they need to. Is there any drug that would mimic bee venom, or will I need to use actual bees?

Jordyn Says:

There is no drug that I'm aware of that would mimic bee venom so I think you're going to need to use the real thing. You could just have the killer trap a bee against her body so it actually stings her versus trying to gather bee venom and try to inject her with it. 

What actually kills a person if they are allergic to bees is not the bee venom itself-- it's the body's response to the bee venom and the response it mounts is called anaphylaxis.

I think I should point out the difference between an allergic reaction and anaphylaxis. An allergic reaction is a localized response (I get stung by a bee and my whole arm swells up) or a skin rash.

Anaphylaxis is a multi-system reaction due to massive histamine release that leads to capillary leaking, massive swelling and edema. Anaphylaxis is defined as having two or more body systems involved reacting to the substance and can be two or more of the following.

Skin: Hives.
Gastrointestinal: Vomiting or diarrhea.
Respiratory: This would include anything from the mouth to the lungs. Lip swelling. Tongue is swelling. Itchy, scratchy throat. Thick feeling to the throat. Difficulty swallowing. Drooling. Wheezing in the lungs. Low oxygen levels.
Cardiovascular: Increased heart rate and low blood pressure.

When we treat anaphylaxis-- each treatment is designed to stop the reaction. The more body systems involved, the more life threatening the reaction is. 

#1 Drug given: Epinephrine via an intramuscular injection. Why not IV? An IV dose in a conscious person could cause enough coronary artery vasoconstriction to give the person a heart attack.
#2 Drug: Inhaled Albuterol IF the person is wheezing. 
#3 Drug: A Steroid. If the person has multiple system involvement (particularly respiratory or cardiovascular) then this will be given IV. If not, then an oral dose is okay.
#4 Drug: Benadryl or diphenhydramine. This blocks one form of the histamine being release (H1 blocker). IV if sick, otherwise by mouth. 
#5 Drug: An antacid like Zantac or Pepcid. This blocks the other form of histamine being released (H2 blocker). And same here, too-- IV if sick, otherwise orally.

Patients with anaphylaxis are monitored for 8-12 hours after medications are given. Patients who require more than one dose of IM epi may be admitted to the hospital. The reason is that when the medication wears off we want to ensure the reaction doesn't come back. Patients will go home with a script for an Epi Pen (or renewal script), a steroid for three days and then H2 blocker for three days.

If you're interested in more information-- here is a post I did on food allergies

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Up and Coming

Hello Redwood's Fans!

Ready for Halloween and all the spooky movies about to release? Or, would you rather read great books instead?

If it's books-- then I have good news for you. The e-books of my entire trilogy (Proof, Poison and Peril) are going on sale this coming week! I hope you'll take advantage of it-- particularly the first few days when each title is a mere $0.99!!

For you this week . . .

Tuesday: Death by bee sting. Is it possible? Is there a drug that could mimic this?

Thursday: What types of suicide attempts can lead to a traumatic brain injury?

Have a great week!



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parents Behaving Badly: The Case of Justin Ross Harris


As a pediatric nurse, I've been intrigued by the case of Justin Ross Harris, who is accused of killing his son by leaving him in a hot car.

This is one of those things, personally, that I do kind of scratch my head at. I know people get stressed. I could even understand leaving a child behind for a few moments before your rationale brain kicked in and said, "Hey, the baby's in the car."

I mean, we treat phones so much better.

He has pled innocent but this CNN HLN article brings up some interesting points that came from his hearing that I thought I would highlight here. These come directly from their piece.

1. It was a normal morning. Meaning, he was the one who usually took his kid to school. It wan't unusual for them to stop at Chik-fil-A for breakfast. When you do things repeatedly, there's less room for error.

2. It's a short distance from Chik-fil-A to his daycare. Like one minute. So, in one minute, he loaded his son up in the car but then forgot he was there.

3. You could see the child from the rear view mirror. This is a pretty interesting point. Evidently, Harris backed into his parking spot. He doesn't have a rear view camera so would have had to look in his mirror. When they placed a mannequin of similar size in that seat it was visible in the mirror.

4. Bizarre behavior. Witnesses felt like he was "working" at being emotional.

5. Strange statements. One alleged statement: "I dreaded how he would look."

6. Additional Injuries. Abrasions to the back of the head.

7. Sexting. Harris was sexting six different women as his son died including sending explicit photos.

8. Life Insurance. The child had two life insurance policies on their son and might have been in financial trouble from credit card use.

9. Internet Activity. Disturbing internet searches for videos with people dying, how to be child-free, how to survive prison and the age of consent for Georgia.

10. Harris is deaf in his right ear. This is used by the defense to perhaps explain that he didn't hear his son in the car.

Whatever happens in this case, one good thing that might come from these deaths is the invention from one teen, designed to alert parents if they do accidentally leave their child in the car.


What do you think from what you've hear of the Harris case? Do you think he committed murder?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Author Question: Wet Nursing

Kristin asks:

I have a question for a novel I’m writing. In it, there is a woman who lost her nursing baby in a space ship crash and finds herself in a place where the have-nots are so malnourished that nursing infants are skinny. So if this newcomer takes on nursing these babies, how many could she sustain? I was thinking six (for the story) to keep them alive, although not well nourished, but better off than before. 

Jordyn says:

Wow. This is a pretty interesting question. I ran it by a few doctors/nurse practitioners I work with and the consensus was about three. If you think of just how much an infant eats and how much the woman would have to drink and eat to sustain even three infants-- it would be a lot.

Also, you have to consider what type of environment she's now living in. The past nutrition she had, if good, would need to be sustained. If she's now living in an environment where she herself would also have trouble obtaining food-- then she's going to be in the same boat as these other women.