Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"A snowstorm whipping through my soul, wailing like a hundred jackals."

Hey, 2 posts in one day! It's because I'm in a hotel traveling for work.

Dr. Leonid Rogozov. A doctor, a Soviet Russian Antarctic explorer in the Sean-Connery-as-James-Bond era (1961), and one tough mofo. Not a bad writer, either, he's like a Dr. Zhivago.

This is a relevant post because this guy could do his own appendix removal, that's why. And you know me and appendixes. Could he have HIPECed himself too? From the Atlantic Magazine:

In 1961, Rogozov was stationed at a newly constructed Russian base in Antarctica. The 12 men inside were cut off from the outside world by the polar winter by March of that year. In April, the 27-year-old Rogozov began to feel ill, very ill. His symptoms were classic: he had acute appendicitis. "He knew that if he was to survive he had to undergo an operation," the British Medical Journal recounted. "But he was in the frontier conditions of a newly founded Antarctic colony on the brink of the polar night. Transportation was impossible. Flying was out of the question, because of the snowstorms. And there was one further problem: he was the only physician on the base." There was no question that he'd have to operate. The pain was intolerable and he knew he was getting worse. He recorded his thoughts in his journal:
I did not sleep at all last night. It hurts like the devil! A snowstorm whipping through my soul, wailing like a hundred jackals. Still no obvious symptoms that perforation is imminent, but an oppressive feeling of foreboding hangs over me ... This is it ... I have to think through the only possible way out: to operate on myself ... It's almost impossible ... but I can't just fold my arms and give up.
Operating mostly by feeling around, Rogozov worked for an hour and 45 minutes, cutting himself open and removing the appendix. The men he'd chosen as assistants watched as the "calm and focused" doctor completed the operation, resting every five minutes for a few seconds as he battled vertigo and weakness. He recalled the operation in a journal entry:
I worked without gloves. It was hard to see. The mirror helps, but it also hinders -- after all, it's showing things backwards. I work mainly by touch. The bleeding is quite heavy, but I take my time -- I try to work surely. Opening the peritoneum, I injured the blind gut and had to sew it up. Suddenly it flashed through my mind: there are more injuries here and I didn't notice them ... I grow weaker and weaker, my head starts to spin. Every 4-5 minutes I rest for 20-25 seconds. Finally, here it is, the cursed appendage! With horror I notice the dark stain at its base. That means just a day longer and it would have burst and ...
At the worst moment of removing the appendix I flagged: my heart seized up and noticeably slowed; my hands felt like rubber. Well, I thought, it's going to end badly. And all that was left was removing the appendix ... And then I realised that, basically, I was already saved.

Actual photo of the surgery! Leonid was back on regular duty in two weeks. He died in St. Petersburg, in 2000, at the age of 66.


I haven't checked in a while, but last week this blog saw hit number 20,000. Almost a year and a half in existence. Even these guys don't believe it.

My stat counter tracks cities--the 20,000th hit was from Huntsville, Alabama. Hello, Hunstville! Portland, Maine, and Elk River, Minnesota, were the almost winners....

Thanks for the hits. Send good vibes to my friend Paul--Dr. Fournier is operating on him tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I haven't posted in a while, but I just wanted to say (for those that I don't talk to frequently, or those strangers that find or have found this site and read it occasionally) that it's because I'm busy, and just don't have much to update about PMP right now....

All is fine great health-wise, I'm super busy at work (which is also great, as I love my job), and I'm just as busy outside of work! I'm having a great time and all that, but in reality I cannot wait for spring. It's too icy outside to run this morning, so I might force myself to use my elliptical trainer. Once spring breaks, I've got a lot planned already--sailing, camping, running, and a few getaways. Heading to Japan next month again too. And I've got a ticket sitting on Southwest, I may use that for a beach visit this month, a long weekend.

So, hope you are all doing well. Newbies who find this site, send me an email if you want to talk!

Some quick pics. My friend and co-worker Ken flew us up to Green Bay for a meeting. On the way back we circled our campus.

(One final note--a few weeks ago, in order to explain my surgery to a new patient who found me through this blog, I reviewed my post-operative report. I hadn't really thought about this stuff in any depth for a while, and reviewing that report and the details of the treatment reminded me of what a lucky, lucky person I am, and how poorly things could have gone under different circumstances, timing, etc. Holy sh*t. I am one lucky dude and will never forget that! Screw the ice--the sun is shining, and I'm heading out for a run.)