1. lyethia
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    lyethia Member

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    Disease and Limitations

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by lyethia, Jun 27, 2009.

    I'm running into an issue. I'm in the process of writing a story about a girl with a potentially debilitating disease, and her "adventures" in a fantasy world. However, I don't want her to be AS limited by the disease as people irl would be; or, I just want her to be LESS limited by it.

    More specifically: my protagonist has CIPA, a rare genetic disorder where individuals don't feel pain. Consequently, there are countless problems involved with these people; they often bite off their tongues, gouge out their eyes, (as babies), they feel no need to eat, they rarely live past the age of 3, etc. My protagonist is recruited into the faerie world (for more info, read Holly Black's books) for this specific trait. I'd like her to keep the aspect of painlessness, and perhaps some other negatives (feeling no hunger, inability to maintain body homeostasis <--up to a point!!). I DON'T want her to be constantly in and out of the doctor's office, like actual CIPA patients are.

    So, I'd like to write off her survival and relative good health partly due to magical interference (ahh, so cheap! x__x), but I don't know how far I can go and still keep the disease aspect believable.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    The simplest solution is probably to invent a similar fictional disease that only gives her half the symptoms (ie. no pain, but she can feel heat/cold). Or you could justify it by her recruiters drugging her deliberately enough to give her functionality while still not feeling pain - since that is why they chose her. (For added drama, she could later find they've been drugging and preparing her since birth, that they're holding back a full cure, having them STOP drugging her and have her briefly suffer the full symptoms ...)

    Of course, the story is only as believable as you write it etc.
     
  3. Ragnar
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    Ragnar Contributing Member

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    It's your fantasy world. Why use diseased that exist in this "real" one? :)
     
  4. ChaseRoberts
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    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

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    There is a sub-catagory of CIPA, which is Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Partial Anhidrosis, type 5 of the genetic mutation on that particular gene. The danger with CIPA children is because they can't sweat, they can't regulate temperature, and are often victims of hypothermia, pyrexia, virus's and bacterial infections. Often they will suffer brain damage as a result.

    There have been cases of CIPA children living to 25 (according to my Davidson's Medicine Book). It does not say whether they are type 4 or 5 though, but my guess would be 5, as they have some functioning in their heat regulating zones.

    If she was type 5, she would still have an indifference to pain, but she would have less danger to herself re. infections and also would be more likely to have an intellegent function (i.e. not brain damaged, mentally retarded).

    Of course, if you're really brave, you could use all the medical info on Types 4 and 5, and invent a type 6, where you take the bits you want her to have, and make her one of only 10 or so in the world with it or something believable and medicalese, but without the having to stick stoicially to medical fact.

    Anyhoo, that's all I can dig up with my Emery's Genetics and my Davidson's Medicine. If you need more definitive research, I have access pass to a medical library and online journals, I can upload stuff and send it across. Just let me know what you need.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    lyethia,

    Stephen R. Donaldson wrote a very successful set of books (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever). In these books the main character, Thomas Covenant, is afflicted with Leprosy. While in The Land (the magical realm he is transported to) he is 'healed' of his affliction, it is still a part of him--his routine ingrained for his survival, and affects much of his response to other characters in the set of novels.

    I mentioned these books as I think it might give you some guidance and ideas for your work. They're still in print after almost 30 years--and he recently started the Last chronicles of Thomas Covenant--but they are commonly found in libraries as well.

    I know it's not a perfect fit to what you're attempting but has some parallels.

    Good luck.

    Terry
     
  6. ChaseRoberts
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    ChaseRoberts Senior Member

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    AH! I've read them! I forgot all about those books. (off topic I know, but I'm so amazed). They were actually quite good for being a genre I'm not overly endeared with.
    Hmmmmm... might be worth a re-read.
     
  7. lyethia
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    lyethia Member

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    Thanks so much guys! :)

    OneMoreNameless> ooh, very nice idea about the drugging. i might just weave that in somehow.

    ragnar> lol, way to point at an out-of-the-box option xD (i always have issues with those) stupid me. the only issue with making my own disease is the "realistic" aspect of it---I kinda don't want people saying "oh she created a disease out of an already existing one by synthesizing all the GOOD (ish) aspects of it." thanks tho!

    ChaseRoberts> woohoo! thanks a bunch! :D I looked up CIPA on the internet, but info on it seems to be a bit limited (i found a site with a summary of the info you provided, but lost it again). It'd be great if you could provide me with more info on type 4 and 5...I checked on JSTOR, but they didn't have anything on it :( ty for your idea, type 6 seems to be on the way to development ;] (i did find something on PubMed, though. hmm)

    TWErvin2> Awesome recommendation. I'll be sure to check it out.

    fantasy-disease books are awesome. you don't see enough good ones out there.
     
  8. OrdinaryJoe
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    OrdinaryJoe Member

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    Ditto on TWErvin2's recommendation for Stephen R. Donaldson. I'm not even sure how many times I have read these books. Just don't be too disappointed with the fact the third and fourth installments of the last chronicles will not be released until 2010 and then 2013.:mad:

    Best character in those books, IMO: Saltheart Foamfollower the giant. Best book out of the series, again IMO: The Illearth War. Thanks TWErvin2, now I am going to have to reread them... Not complaining.:D
     
  9. wave1345
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    wave1345 Member

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    This may be somewhat off the wall.

    Faeries, fairytales, etc, are based on belief. Do you believe them, or do you not believe
    them. What if her immunity to pain, etc, in the faerie world were rooted in her simply
    not believing in its ability to hurt her? That would give the interesting twist that the
    more she is in the world, the more she interacts with it, the more she believes, and so
    her special ability eventually begins fade.

    I'm not sure how feasible that would be to use, but the lovely folks who have already
    posted have, I think, covered all of the viable, 'realistic' alternatives. :) Good luck!
     
  10. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    My suggestion: Make her extremely self-conscious about her disease. She know perfectly well that this isn't a good thing, and that it's potentially very dangerous, so she has set her life up with routines to manage it to the best of her ability.

    For example, she doesn't feel hunger, but she can still starve to death. So, she keeps a rigorous eating schedule; always making sure to eat and drink at a set time of day, and always keeping track of how much nourishment she consumes.

    Since she doesn't feel pain, she is very conscious about her body and how she moves and interacts with things. She constantly pays close attention to her surroundings and makes a habit of checking her body for wounds on a regular basis.

    Basically, she needs to be a very disciplined and focused person simply because she wouldn't survive otherwise.

    I also like ChaseRobers idea of simply inventing a new CIPE variant and claim it's just that damn rare. It would (somewhat ironically) let you get away with various inaccuracies. Plus, you're writing a fantasy story, so just blatantly making stuff up is allowed. ;)
     

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