Author Question: IV Solutions

Christina Asks:

I have a question relating to my most recent novel that I didn’t see addressed by you, yet.

I’m writing a YA Fantasy book, so while, so far, the majority of my characters are mostly human, they are not quite all so. 

In my novel one character is from an alternate dimension.  As a result of using her healing ability to heal a human male from a gunshot wound, she falls unconscious, for days.  She’s human enough, that I would think that dehydration would be a serious concern.

When someone is comatose, is there any way to drip water down their mouth, or do you HAVE to use some sort of IV to give them fluids to keep them from dying. The teenage boy traveling with her is afraid to take her to a hospital for help because he’s afraid she’ll end up locked in a room somewhere as a government experiment. 

What I’m not sure of though, is what he does to keep her from dying of dehydration. I saw a movie once where a sniper who was on the run used a turkey injector needle, some sort of kitchen tubing, bottled water, and I think sugar and salt to create his own IV after he’d been shot. Is this remotely realistic? If so, I’d like to use something similar in my book.

Jordyn Says:

Wow, Christina! What a great, interesting question. Thanks for letting me take a stab at it.

Dripping liquids into someone’s mouth does not work all that well. If they are unconscious, they won’t swallow it and if they don’t swallow the fluid, they won’t get hydrated. You can’t make an unconscious person swallow.

One– I will say– TV is not a great source for anything medical. For instance, the situation you describe in your e-mail where someone put a tube into someone’s stomach to drain its secretions by cutting a hole into it and inserting a tube– well, you don’t even need to do that to drain a stomach. You can put said hose down someone’s nose or mouth and get it into their gut to do the same thing. I know it’s not as dramatic but cutting into the stomach is dangerous because it will leak gastric contents everywhere– which erodes like acid.

Anyway– on with your question.

The reason I ask if the male companion has a medical background is for the believability for the reader. He has to have some medical training. Starting an IV on someone is not easy. And trying to do it in a crisis when someone is ill will be even harder. So– he needs to have some exposure some way with needles and getting them into veins for this to be plausible. Perhaps he has a sibling who has a chronic illness or a parent is a medical provider and he’s at least spent some time observing their work.

If, as a writer, you’re not too grounded in the medical aspects– I’d keep it more on the vague side. A turkey baster adapter (the one with the smaller metal tip on it) or more like an injector– could work but it would need to be sharpened to get through the skin. The needle is what you’re also going to have to keep in place inside the vein which will be a challenge. What we leave after poking the patient with a needle is a flexible, plastic catheter. You’d have to connect tubing to that (sterile or very very clean) and then connect your homemade solution to that part.

Here is one site I found on how to make IV solution (they are not that easy to find!!)
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 A second degree martial arts black belt and mother of six, Christina Williams is a young adult and children’s writer, specializing in the fantasy genre.  Her first teenage paranormal romance book, Destined Love is Immortal, is available from Amazon.  One reader says, “In an era full of post-apocalyptic and/or vampire & werewolf books, this is an original story line. Mrs. Williams integrates a trip through Belgium, history of some lesser known European gods, action, and romance. You will turn the last page and begin impatiently waiting for the sequel.” Check out Christina’s blog at http://christinawilliamswrites.blogspot.com or follow @immortalswriter on Twitter.

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