Insane Random Real-Life Horror Story

Posted: June 25, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Self-surgery is one of the most hardcore things a human being can attempt.  Throughout history there are several ultra-bonkers cases of hardcore, moderately-insane individuals going under their own knife-wielding hands.

Despite all of these incredibly gonzo attempts at curing disease by taking a scalpel to your own abdomen, by far the most often-requested self-surgery incident I wanted to cover is the super-intense case of Leonid Rogozov – the twenty-seven year old Soviet surgeon who, in 1961, removed his own appendix in the middle of an Antarctic hellhole surrounded by a bunch of guys whose only experience with medicine was when their physicians told them to turn their heads and cough. I will now attempt to humbly present the first documented case of a successful auto-operation of this caliber performed under these impossible working conditions.

Rogozov was in the midst of a pretty promising career as a surgeon, and had just finished working on a dissertation aimed at designing a new method for operating on esophageal cancer, but a few weeks before he was supposed to get in front of the board and defend his dissertation he decided, “fuck it, I’m going to peace out of here, join the sixth Soviet Antarctic expedition, and drive giant tractors around in wind chills of negative one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit.”  So he did.  He ditched school, joined the South Pole expedition, and was one of just twelve men who departed Leningrad in 1960 to set up a polar base in the middle of fucking ass-nowhere.  Doing triple-duty as the expedition’s doctor, assistant meteorologist, and heavy-vehicle operator, Rogozov spent thirty-six days at sea, withstanding bitter Antarctic temperatures.

Well this was great fun and all, until the night of 29 April 1961, when Rogozov started barfing all over the place, ran a temperature, and started having searing pain coursing through his abdomen.  Rogozov, being a surgeon, of course managed to diagnose himself with acute appendicitis.  That was the easy part.  The hard part was that intense winds, freezing temperatures, and the afore-mentioned misery of the Antarctic cold season prevented him having any hope of evacuation, and he was stuck in a recently-constructed work facility with no hospital equipment, no medical personnel, and an agonizingly-painful infected internal organ that was going to kill him if he didn’t get it removed in the next twenty-four hours.

While most people would have simply died slow, excruciating deaths like chumps, Leonid Rogozov decided that he was going to will himself to live.  With all the odds stacked against him, this guy decided he was going to get in there and yank the damn thing out himself – no matter how ridiculous a prospect that may have been.  Sure, appendectomies are some of the easiest surgical procedures you can perform, but it’s significantly less simple when you’re in a makeshift operating room, working blind and upside-down while running a fever and suffering from extreme nausea, and being assisted by a bunch of uneducated manual laborers.  Rogozov didn’t give a shit.  He ordered his men to get the medical room as sterile as possible, and then, assisted by a weatherman, a mechanic, and the base manager (who was there as back-up just in case either of the other two assistants got nauseous and passed out – never mind the fact that Rogozov was out there on his own), Rogozov laid down on the operating table, took his favorite scalpel, and sliced a five-inch incision across his own lower abdomen.

For the next hour and forty-five minutes, the super-sick, dying Leonid Rogozov operated on his own badly-infected appendix.  Unable to see down into his own gaping wound, Rogozov had to work by feel alone, without gloves, and sometimes using just a mirror that was being held above him by one of his assistants (Rogozov later said that this was less helpful than you might think, because everything in the mirror is backwards and it was really screwing with him).  Suffering badly from stress and illness and overall suckitude, Rogozov had to take breaks every five or ten minutes to vomit, collect his energy, or wait for the room to stop spinning, but this guy was so insanely badass that he just kept plowing through the procedure, doing whatever he needed to do to survive.


Now my first-hand experience with surgical procedures is minimal at best (you’d have a better chance of explaining to me how partial differential equations work ), so the closest thing I can equate this to would be tattooing yourself by writing in cursive, upside-down, with your eyes closed while dying of malaria.  And if you spelled something wrong you died in a matter of seconds.  So, like, no pressure or anything.

Somehow, despite every single possible factor stacked up against him, Rogozov yanked the misbehaving organ out of his exposed breadbox.  Just before he passed out, he remembered specifically noticing that the appendix was so badly infected that it would have ruptured within the next couple of hours, putting him in a situation he certainly would not have survived.

Amazingly, two weeks after this crazy crazy self operation Rogozov was back in action, working as the base doctor for the rest of the trip.  Dude didn’t even get evacuated back home once the weather cleared up – he stayed in Antarctica for a full year, returned home with the rest of his team, finally defended his dissertation, received the Order of the Red Banner of Labor award from the Soviet government, and lived the rest of his life as a Professor of General Surgery in St. Petersburg.  Insane, Right?!


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