1. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Weight & blood loss

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Aprella, Jun 21, 2013.

    Hello there!
    I tried to find as much information about this as possible, but it's really hard to put things together since most things are about more or less healthy people. Perhaps handy to know that the story is set in a medieval-like fantasy world and thus there isn't much medical technology. My questions:

    After three weeks locked up in a dungeon with twice a day two slice of bread and a cup of water, and every two days a hot meal. How much weight would he have lost? He comes in with a healthy weight for someone that's about 1.70m-1.75m tall. My co-writer and I though he would weight about 50 kilos/ 110 pounds (?) when he comes out... is that plausible?

    At the end of those three weeks, he will be flogged with a cat-o-nine tails (causes a lot of blood loss) now I was wonder how much blood loss it takes before he gets into a critical stage. I was thinking about 15 to 30% which will get him in to the second stage of Hypovolemic shock... but does his loss of weight influences this?
    How long will it take for him to recover enough to be able to walk around for 10 minutes and how long until his on his full strength again? I can figure this things out separately... but the issue of the weight loss makes it very difficult.

    Note: Medieval setting so no blood transfusion possible.

    Thanks for you time :)
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't think most readers are going to check your math on something like this.

    What's in the hot meal every two days?

    When a person consumes fewer calories than one needs, metabolism slows as the body shifts to maintain weight. In three weeks eating one meal every two days supplemented with a bit of bread, he'd possibly only lose 10-30 pounds.

    An average adult male has about 6-7 pints of blood circulating. It's unlikely one's iron stores would be depleted in 3 weeks, so he wouldn't be anemic to start with. You don't lose that much blood through weeping lacerations. If you want the guy to lose more weight and blood to fit the story, you'd need more time, and/or less food, and some knife cuts or something.

    I'd suggest you concentrate on what the story needs, then figure out the physics to match.

    When you first bleed out, it would take a fair amount of blood loss to get shock. If the bleeding stops, the body shifts fluid from extravascular spaces into the blood stream. You could get consciousness back fairly quickly as long as the bleeding stopped and the heart didn't and the person was generally healthy before the blood loss. Three weeks of a starvation diet shouldn't matter that much. So within an hour the person would be able to walk, but they'd have little stamina because of the diluted blood (plasma replaced so volume is restored but oxygen carrying red cells would take weeks to recover, so you'd be short of breath).
     
  3. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Okay thanks :D

    I know the maths isn't the most important thing... but I wanted to know about how much he'll use (so I don't describe him as a skeleton so to say while he barely lost any weight) and the same with the blood loss :D
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "Checking your math" was a metaphor. Perhaps it failed. ;)
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What's the "healthy weight"? I'm 5'7 (170 cm) and weigh 50 kilos and am of healthy weight. It sounds like a plausible weight for him though.
    He'll lose most of the weight from water, so maybe 2 kilos per week if he doesn't sweat a lot. However, some weight class athletes are able to shed even 10 kilos a week. Very, very little of it is fat though.


    I've understood weight is critical when it comes to blood-loss, so it'd weaken him even more. I have no idea how much though. Do you know any doctors / paramedics you could ask this from? I've asked story stuff from doctors during an appointment :D

    Frankly, I'd be more worried of infenctions from the wounds. They could kill him if the dungeon is dirty and the captors don't care for his cleanliness.
     
  6. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    I thought about infections. They will disinfect the wounds since the person who is torturing the character, doesn't want his toy to die :p
    Hmm perhaps I should ask a doctor!
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    We have this nurses' 24/7 health service in Finland where you can call and ask medical questions, so that's another place where T and I have gotten help for our stories (granted, we've also asked some "real questions" as well at the same time, don't wanna hog up a nurse for no reason!). Do you have a service like that in Belgium?
     
  8. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Hmmm don't think so.... going to look into that nonetheless :D Thanks for the tip!
     
  9. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How much does he weigh before his trip to the dungeon? And how much of his weight is muscle / fat / fluids? Usually you lose around 1-2kg of fat per week at the onset of a diet, but it's possible to lose much more weight. Does he have to do hard labor while he's in or does his time consist mostly of hanging around / getting tortured? How hot is it? Heat is a good way to get rid of extra fluids, so if he's on the chubbier side at first and has had lots of carbs, he can lose several kilos in a few days. If he's skinny to begin with, his weight will drop less.

    I'm no expert, but I started to lose consciousness after about 20mins / 1,5-2 liters of blood. At the time I was 185cm / 75-80kg. By the time we got to the hospital, I'd gotten almost two bags of fluids through an IV, so they decided a blood transfusion wasn't needed anymore, otherwise it would've been necessary.

    At which point does the body go into hypovolemic shock? Or do some people go into shock while others don't? When the paramedics arrived, I was just starting to lose consciousness (vision started blacking out), but even when they got there, I could converse normally, crack jokes with the cops, i.e. act normal (if a little lethargic), so was that still some form of hypovolemia or...?
     
  10. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Hmm interesting questions, I have to look into that.
    Well he would be rather skinny and I don't think he will have to do any hard labour. I was thinking that the dungeon would be about 15°C degrees or something.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    1. One cup of water per day is not enough to survive. A normal person needs minimum 2-3 litres of fluid per day in order not to damage the kidneys. Some of that water can be obtained from food. Not much in toast, though. So, if he has let's say 500 cal in the hot meal every other day, and a piece of toast every day, that probably averages 300 cal per day. He'd be losing up to 5kg per week, provided he isn't doing any exercise or hard work. He'll be in starvation mode after a week. (ketosis).

    2. Weight loss will make him exhausted. But his circulating blood volume will be relatively preserved. He can survive up to 50% blood loss, but not for long. However, superhuman efforts have been recorded in a lot of survivors, so he could, technically, walk about for 10 minutes after all that (providing he isn't still bleeding profusely). To recover fully, he'll need a blood transfusion, repair to wounds, feeding up. He can perhaps leave hospital in 2-3 days, then recuperate at home or somewhere safe. He might be feeling almost 100% after a month. However, psychological effect of that kind of trauma may persist for much longer than physical injuries.
     
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  12. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Hmm the problem is... he won't be in the hospital since it's happens in a medieval setting so no blood transfusion.
    Hmm he'll need more water than...
     
  13. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can't recover (without transfusion) from a huge blood loss. Taking anything orally won't be enough, even intravenous fluids, if more than 30% blood's been lost. Perhaps you can make him have the first blood transfusion or some other magic consistent with your world. Or less serious injuries :)
     
  14. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Yes... maybe some kind of potion might do the trick. Need to ponder about that!

    Thanks for the help :D
     
  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    No problem :) Maybe this will help. Blood-forming organs (mainly bone marrow, but to a lesser degree liver, spleen, thymus and certain lymph nodes) will produce about 1% of the total circulating blood volume per day, or about half a pint per week. This rate varies between individuals, but not by a lot. Perhaps the tonic could markedly speed up this process? You could reasonably stretch it to something like a magic tonic that acts two-fold: initially it helps you drink lots, and regulates your blood pressure and heart rate so you can move around more easily, and over time it speeds up blood cells production. You could even make it act mainly on the bone marrow, so he will be vulnerable for a month or two until the other organs catch up, or it could be a global effect and help him get back on his feet withing a few days. Whatever you decide, best of luck with the story :)
     
  16. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    Ooh that's a nice idea :D
    Thank you!

    And I found an interesting article about the psychological of torture. Now I can start puzzling and make everything fit!
     
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