1. esshesse
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    esshesse Member

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    Character is dying quickly - need a disease

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by esshesse, Jul 4, 2016.

    Hello, I am new to the forum and this is my first post.

    I have a man dying within two weeks. He is in his early 30s in America. I don't know if I can get away without naming an actual disease, but I don't know if one exists that works that quickly AND is realistic for my character.... Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks!
     
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  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ebola?

    Bubonic plague?

    Without knowing more about your character and his circumstances, any candidate for a killing disease is just guesswork.
     
  3. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    Two weeks from when? From contracting the illness, from diagnosis, or just from the current point in time? In other words, could it be something he has had for some time and he is only now two weeks from death, or does it need to be something that would kill him within two weeks of getting the disease? When answering this, bear in mind that a disease which was capable of killing someone from start to finish in two weeks would likely be highly debilitating as it would tend to be acute, whereas a more slowly progressing illness might allow more function even in the final stages. You might also need to think about what the character needs to achieve within this two week period and how you need the illness to obstruct that for the purpose of the plot. So if he needs to overcome a physical obstacle you could have his body wasting and weakening; if he needs to overcome a situation needing a lot of thought then he could have a condition which would result in dementia or memory loss; or if he needed to be able to communicate with others to reach his goals then the disease could impair his speech or communication in some way. It all depends on the situation and how you want the story to play out. Finally, since this is a work of fiction you could invent an illness to have the effect you want.
     
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  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    It's not what you'd typically think of, but a friend of my family found out he had advanced cancer and died only about three weeks later. He knew he wasn't particularly healthy well beforehand, but there was no indication as to what it was until he got the diagnosis. You could do some research into what types of cancer progress most quickly and see if that works.

    Mashers makes a lot of good points to take into consideration as well, though personally I'd disagree about inventing an illness. There's plenty of real ones out there, I'd think you'd be able to find one that's suitable.
     
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  5. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    We have no way of knowing what is realistic for your character, but conditions (not necessarily diseases) like sepsis or even a MERSA infection can kill that fast.
     
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  6. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    modern day? If you want someone to die really quickly I suggest the medieval sweating sickness which has all but disappeared now. It can kill within a day of spotting the symptoms but the incubation time is thought to be from 24 hours to a week. There was an outbreak I think in California in 2012. Dunno. Need a bit more info like everyone else says.
     
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  7. Terrie000
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    Terrie000 Member

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    2 weeks without any advanced indication/symptoms is hard. But if you want sudden death, you can go for Heart Attack, maybe followed with a fall while showering or something... that would make your character dead. Unless you want him to lay on bed for 2 weeks and die slowly on bed... then I don't know, lol.
     
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I almost died from undiagnosed (actually, misdiagnosed) type 1 diabetes. If I stopped taking my medication now I'd be dead within a couple of days.
     
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  9. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Pancreatic Cancer is very agressive. Brain Cancer also can kill with surprising speed. As mentioned above, there are infections that can literally kill within 24 hours. One can become infected after swimming in contaminated water with an open wound. A rather rare way to die is to develop an embolism in your stomach (large blood clot). If it breaks up, then you can die from stroke (blood clot in the brain) or pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs).

    If he has other diseases such a the above mentioned diabetes, he can be subject to infections, primarily in his feet. These, if untreated, can be fatal in a matter of days/weeks.

    You can also just make it a mystery disease. There are plenty of those out there. He goes to south america, has a great time hiking through the jungle, comes home and starts dying.
     
  10. Wexeldorf
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    Wexeldorf Member

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    Depends on the circumstances of the story but some sort of embellism or aneurism could put a random timer on a persons life.
     
  11. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    I second (or third) cancer. Buddy's dad (in his 50s) had heartburn he ignored for quite a while, he only lived for 38 days after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, and my grandmother (93 years old) only had a week or so from diagnosis to death.

    All quite some time ago, to forestall any condolences.
     
  12. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    I believe untreated meningitis can kill fairly quick.
     
  13. esshesse
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    esshesse Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    I went away and came back to many great responses. Not sure what I will do but I'll take these into account. I forgot to mention that that he needs to be able to think and act normally until his death; at least, for the most part. The focal point isn't the disease, but the fact that he going to die soon and he is evaluating his life. Some talk of pain and illness could be interesting, however.

    Mashers - good point, I could always invent a disease and that might work. I don't usually love fantasy and I like dealing with reality, but fiction is fiction and if the reader finds it believable, who cares right?
     
  14. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    If you want something common yet unusual, adult chicken pox can kill if left untreated too long. It almost happened to a friend of mine, she thought she just had an allergy, kept getting sicker and sicker, until finally a week and a half later, I dragged her butt to the ER. She ended up in ICU for a week, very nearly died. Doctors said if she hadn't been so healthy to begin with, she probably wouldn't have made it. She was 34, never had it as a child, both her kids had gone through it, she was around my son when he went through it, and she never contracted it. Went on vacation and brought it back home with her.

    Another common yet unusual, kidney stones. My dad had kidney stones, docs thought he'd passed them all. Then he thought he had the flu, finally ended up in the hospital where they discovered he had full system toxicity. Apparently, kidney stones had mostly blocked his bladder, his liver, and his pancreas landing him in ICU. If it hadn't been for a couple of amazing surgeons, he would have never survived it. Now, he was 60 when this happened but he'd been dealing with kidney stones since his late 20's and they said it could have happened with any attack. Just one of those freak things.

    Hope this helps!! Good luck.
     
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  15. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Bubonic plague isn't dangerous anymore. We can treat it easily. But yeah, it's a vague question.
     
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  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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  18. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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  19. Sapphire at Dawn
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    Sapphire at Dawn Member

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    I was also going to suggest meningitis.

    I looked after a young lad once who had come back from a holiday in the US and developed a twitch in his eye. Over the course of two weeks, he got sicker and sicker until he was practically a vegetable. His heart stopped and the doctors managed to revive him, but he was severely brain damaged. In just two weeks he went from a normal 18 year old to someone who couldn't walk, talk or eat or drink on their own, he was incontinent and unable to recognise his family. He never recovered and the doctors never knew what caused all that, but they suspect it was some kind of virus that attacked the brain. I don't think that sort of thing would be completely in line with what you want for your story, but this just shows that there are illnesses and diseases that have devastating effects and completely unknown causes, which means you could make something up and chalk it up to a mystery illness/virus.

    Or perhaps you could consider a poison of some sort? Have a look at some slow acting ones that he could have unintentionally come into contact with.
     
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  20. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    Ain't nobody got time for that!
     
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  21. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Same thing here. I recently learned that a woman I know had died of cancer two or three weeks after being diagnosed. Total shock to everyone. I wish I could tell you what kind, but these are friends I keep up with only via Facebook and I thought it would be insensitive for me to ask her widowed husband for the details.

    I believe liver cancer can hide for a long time and then move pretty fast. But again, do you need your character to be up and around and active during those two weeks? With advanced cancer it's pretty well hospital and hospice up to the point of death.
     
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  22. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, yeah. An embolism or an aneurysm can zap you any time. They can treat you these days for the effects of an aneurysm, which they couldn't do just short years before, but your character could lose that fight. Keep in mind that he'd be like a stroke victim in the meantime, pretty well incapacitated.
     
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  23. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    So he knows he has only a few weeks left to live, but needs to be able to think and behave normally until he dies.

    Naegleria fowleri is an amoeba which is capable of eating brain cells if it is inhaled. It can take about 2 weeks from being infected before symptoms appear, with another 1-3 weeks before death. The disease it causes, primary amebic meningoencephalitis, has a 97% death rate. It isn't contagious between people, but initial symptoms may include headache, fever, nausea, or vomiting. Later symptoms can include stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention, loss of balance, seizures, and hallucinations.
     
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  24. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I think we need more info for the setting to give you the best solution.
    Is this a modern world? Future? Past? Fantasy?
    Does the person have access to whatever "modern" medicine is available to this world? If so, why is he still dying? Or is this someone trapped someplace away from where he could get help?
    Is he refusing help? Ignorant of the disease severity?
    Has he already gone for help & been told it's too late to do anything?
     
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