The Med Bay! #SaysTheEditor

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Graphic of a crossed sword and a pencilIt’s been awhile since I’ve made the time to have things to say!

But it’s the weekend as I’m writing this, and it’s something I thought of as I am working — yes, working on a weekend, but hey, it’s ninety degrees outside and what else is there to do and don’t say clean my house — and thought I’d share right now.

For those of you who write scenes set in a med bay, usually within a fantasy setting, take a second and think. Do ALL of the illnesses your characters come down with require them to be in a bed? Have you ever had an illness or injury that could be dealt with while sitting… in a chair? On a table?

So often, we see hospital wards — and I’m still talking fantasy, primarily — that only have beds. A person gets sick, they’re taken to the med bay, they’re tucked into a bed. You assume the diagnosis is done there, as is anything invasive, and then any and all recovery needs to happen in bed, as well. But… does it need to?

Oh, I’m not pointing a finger at writers who will shrug and say, “That’s how it’s always done. It’s a fixture of fantasy.” To be honest, for all the fantasy I’ve read and edited over my lifetime — and it’s a lot, as it’s a genre I love — I’ve never thought about it until now, mostly because the sick character who triggered this thought doesn’t really need to be tucked into a bed.

As I think about the tradition of med bays and beds, it makes sense that we don’t think about chairs or tables to sit on and that we do think of beds. Most illnesses confine a person to bed, especially before the age of modern medicine. How often do you deal with a migraine by going to bed? And then think about how you feel when your body’s busy fighting off a virus. Pretty lousy and exhausted, and you only want to be in bed. And for things like stitches in your leg, I found out last year that hanging out in bed instead of on the couch… well, it would have kept those stitches from pulling.

Beds in the med bay make perfect sense. I don’t fault a single writer who creates a med bay with only beds in it, especially when that med bay is somewhere with limited space, like on a spaceship.

But then I think about being confined to a hospital room after I had my kids, and how I wanted to sit pretty much anywhere other than the bed. I wanted a chair! Thankfully, I was in a hospital that let me have both a private room and a chair (and that only expressed surprise when I ordered takeout for all my meals; I ate well, especially after the birth of my oldest). I could sit in my chair! And I did! I have the cutest picture of me, my son, and his day-old sister seated in that ugly, wide chair in my hospital room. No, you can’t see it. It’s not digitized, for one, and for another, the kids haven’t given me their permission to post it.

Just something to think about as you work on your worldbuilding. Does your med bay need only beds, or is there room and purpose for a chair or two?

Yes, I’ve got room for new clients! If you’d like to work with me, drop me a line, tell me about your project, and let’s see if we’re a good fit for each other.

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