1. wordylaconic
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    wordylaconic New Member

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    Amputation Stories

    Discussion in 'Research' started by wordylaconic, Nov 9, 2015.

    I'm writing a piece where the MC has his hand cut off by a blade as a form of punishment. I'm interested in how severe the pain is, and how it's processed through the mind of someone as it's happening. Having taken a few glances on the googles, I wonder if you guys have written anything like this, and how you went about it. Can you recommend any pages from where you did your research? Some of the stories I've found don't really focus on the trauma, but instead how they overcame it. I realise that pain is something your body seems to repress after it's happened, but I find it questionable to write something like "it felt like the stump of his arm was being jabbed by knives", when I have no idea if that's how it feels.

    As far as wound treatment goes, a lot of you guys suggested cauterization of the wound in other threads, but is this really a viable option? Seems like a burn wound on top of an amputation would be more prone to infection.

    Would be glad to hear your thoughts.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    The cauterisation is to stop the bleeding, as I understand it, not to prevent infection. Not a lot of point worrying about infection if you're bleeding to death.

    I haven't written about this but I've read a book featuring one protagonist who's had a double leg amputation and another who has his hand amputated during the book. But it's horror so the author isn't focusing on making it realistic. Endurance by Jack Kilborn if you wanted to check it out, but on the whole I don't think it'll be useful for your research. I mention it because it's what made me click your thread.

    Have you read Aron Ralston's autobiography? I haven't, so I don't know how much detail he goes into about how the amputation felt, but I would imagine there is some. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Between_a_Rock_and_a_Hard_Place_(book) The film (127 Hours) does a fantastic job of showing the pain. There's one part I will never forget because of how it made me feel the amputation - when he's sawing through his nerve, there's a sound effect like nails on a chalkboard. It works SO well for nerve pain.
     
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  3. wordylaconic
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    wordylaconic New Member

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    I see, it's the lesser of two evils then. And I'll have to assume that using a tourniquet + applying pressure only helps so far when major arteries are cut off.

    I'll put it on my list if anything, certainly don't mind a good horror now and again.

    Haven't read the book either, but I watched the movie some time ago. Remember myself cringing so hard during the part where he cuts off the nerve. Might just check the book out. Really appreciate the tips!
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can actually help with this!

    I know a guy who lost his leg in a car accident. He was on a motorcycle and was hit by a car. Somehow, the bumper severed his leg just below the knee. My friend remained conscious through this whole process. He never really described the pain. But he did describe what happened. The driver who hit him fled the scene. A young couple ran up on him to help and called 911. My friend told them to take off his belt and tighten it around his thigh. He was bleeding pretty badly, as you can imagine, and wanted to stop the bleeding. The couple refused, not wanting to move him and make matters worse. My friend actually yelled at them. "I'm not going to die on this highway!" That got through to them, because they took off his belt, tied it around his leg, and my friend survived, now a sky-diving teacher and a regular rock climber.

    The point of the story -- my friend didn't acknowledge the pain. Instead, he was so concerned with not dying that he had the thought to tie off his leg before the EMT could arrive. If your MC has their hand cut off and isn't rushed to a hospital, maybe you could have him react the same way. There is a very important vein in the wrist. He could easily bleed out within minutes unless it's taken care of. Cauterizing is in fact used to stop the bleeding, not prevent infection, so that could be a good first step to go with.

    As for what happens after that, I can't tell you. My friend was in the ICU for two weeks after that event and slept most of the time. So I don't know how it feels once the adrenaline wears off.

    Maybe watch 127 Hours with James Franco, or read the book that inspired it, "Between a Rock and a Hard Place." In case you've never heard of it, it's a story about a rock climber who got his arm stuck between two boulders while rock climbing. Because no one knew he had gone, he had to amputate his own arm to free himself and find help. Good movie, though a little gruesome.
     
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  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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  6. wordylaconic
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    wordylaconic New Member

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    Lea`Brooks, thank you for that story. It actually made me remember the lesson of writing cool when the action is hot, though, how could I forget it? I'll apply this to my writing for sure. Given that important vein, I realise that he would need it cauterized. There's too much time between the dismemberment and the wound treatment (gee, what the hell am I writing). Here's hoping your friend is alright today. Makes me wonder if the driver is haunted by what happened.

    In my mind, the character gets a bit bitter after the accident, and I figure that I could take some notes from Dr. House on that point.

    Jack Asher, interesting indeed, although I was a bit confused when I ended up at page 2 and it was talking about amputee porn. But here as well, I find that she didn't even mention the pain. It goes without saying that something like this is painful, but to me it raises the question of how I will portray the pain without making it whining. Given me a lot to think about.
     

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