Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Entry: Medical Scene #2

Here's another entry - this one from Karri Compton:

Thank you, CJ for your time and kindness.

My entry is an excerpt from a short story of mine. My heroine has crashed her car and is now waking up in the hospital with a brace around her neck. My questions are: 1) Would the doctor or nurse tell the patient what injuries she has sustained as soon as she awakens? 2) What injuries do you think a person would sustain after driving into a tree or telephone pole? 3) My heroine's injuries are not important to the story, but how could I put in a few more details about her hospital stay to make it more realistic?

Thanks in advance for whatever help you can give. ~~

Voices. Mom? Sienna? Oh, God, my neck. Reality intruded upon her. Blurs of light and dark swam before T.J.'s eyes. She blinked, trying to rid her mind of the fog that threatened to consume her. She felt a bulky brace of some sort around her neck. A strange man spoke to her.

"T.J. Can you hear me? Blink again if you do."

"Wha…?" She could hear, but as for talking–she must have had cotton shoved down her throat. So she just blinked. Still blurry.

"I'm the shift nurse. Don't try to talk, just rest. You're at St. Vincent's Hospital and we're taking care of you. Your mom and friend are here to see you if you're ready."

T.J. nodded, since the words forming in her mouth wouldn't come out. Tears ran down her cheeks onto the thin white sheet under her. She winced while trying to move her stiff limbs. Fear gripped her as well as confusion, until she saw her mom's familiar face.

"Hi, Honey. I've been here since yesterday and Sienna will be here soon. Don't worry about a thing. You were in an accident, but you'll pull through. You're a living miracle."

The fact that T.J. felt her mom squeeze her hand repeatedly was a good sign. My watch. Where is it? She reached for the chain that should be around her neck. Her mom must've known what she wanted, and pressed the watch into her hand.

"So tired." T.J's strength waned, and all she wanted was sleep to engulf her in its inky darkness. She heard her mom say something about letting her rest again, so she kept her eyes closed while her mind raced in a whirlwind of information. No vision this time, just a misty collage of recent revelations. Dad the beaten, Dad the beater, Dad arguing with his psychiatrist, Mom finally saying he had to go.

Submitted by
Karri Compton--reviewer, writer

1 comment:

CJ Lyons said...

Karri,
Nice work with the disoriented feeling of waking up with injuries!!

My main question is: why can't she talk? And how is she nodding her head around if she has a neck brace?

Okay, that's more than one question, but you see where I'm going.

The trick to writing medical scenes is to know what you as the writer NEED for your character. Then create the scenario to fit that.

So instead of asking me what injuries could happen if a car hit a pole (literally anything!!!) know what you need to have happen and research how it would happen then write your scenario to fit.

If you need your patient to have a broken neck that's different than needing her to be unable to talk.

Since the neck had nothing to do with the scenario you posted but her frustration with not being able to talk did, you might want to focus on that issue.

Unfortunately the only things I can think of that would make her unable to talk would be if she was seriously enough hurt that they intubated her (stuck her on a breathing machine)--do you need her that injured?

She obviously has a pretty bad concussion which could make her pretty disoriented--maybe that alone is enough to make her speech hesitant as she struggles to clear the fog and find the words? So, it's not that she can't physically talk, just that she's too out of it to put words together?

All depends on what you need for your story.

Hope that helps!
CJ