Friday, May 17, 2013

Author Question: I Need a Medical Condition!

I often get questions from authors who just need a medical condition for their characters. Here are a couple of options for Cheryl's scenario. Can you think of any more options?
Problem: 18y/o with congenital heart defect whose condition has been controlled by medication. Develops sudden need for surgery. What kind of surgery? How long? Recovery Process?
Cheryl: I think there are a couple of ways you could approach this scenario.
Option One: Endocarditis
Is he an IV drug user? If so—you could give him a viral infection of the heart itself called endocarditis versus a congenitial heart defect.
Here are a couple of links that would go over symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. It might be easier to deal with an illness in your writing versus a heart surgery. He’d still need to be hospitalized and the course can run the gamut from mild to serious.

Option Two: Atrial Septal Defect
This is an actual congentital heart defect. You heart is split in half from top to bottom. The top two chambers are referred to as the atria. An atrial septal defect is when there is a hole between these two chambers of the heart. As a person grows older, the heart may begin to decompensate due to this defect.
Here are a couple of links that talk about ASD repair in an older adolescent/adult.

Option Three: Congestive Heart Failure
Many of these congenital heart defects present with signs/symptoms of congestive heart failure. Signs are things we can measure. How fast the heart rate is. What is the patient’s blood pressure. Symptoms are things the patient must tell us. “I feel nauseated, lightheaded. I have pain.”

Medication to Treat Congestive Heart Failure
If his heart condition is known and he’s on medication—I’m also including links of treatment for CHF. They may have also been mentioned in the links above. It’s usually medication to get the heart to contract stronger and medication to help pull fluid off the body. Two examples of this type of medication would be digoxin and lasix.

1 comment:

  1. Laura Cynthia ChambersMay 17, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Ever read Randy Singer's Self Incrimination? The narrator suffers from a heart condition too.