Saturday, November 25, 2023





Hugh Glass

Illustration of Hugh Glass and his legendary bear attack published at the time for a newspaper.

While scouting for game in Grand River in 1823, Hugh Glass ran into a grizzly-bear mom who attacked him to defend her two cubs.

Unable to reach his rifle as they wrestled on the ground, Glass was able to escape from her death grip and stab her with his knife while she shredded his face, chest, arm, and back with her claws. His wounds were so gruesome that his fellow trappers simply placed a bear hide over him as a funeral shroud and left him for dead so they could get out of the hostile territory and away from the Native Americans who had recently killed half of their crew. With pretty much anyone else, the whole horrendous story would have ended there.

But not Hugh Glass. When Glass eventually regained consciousness, he set his own leg, wrapped himself in his bear hide shroud, and started crawling along the banks of the Cheyenne River.

During the insane trek across country that followed, he prevented gangrene from infecting his wounded back by lying on a rotting log and allowing maggots to eat his dead flesh, sustained himself by killing and eating rattlesnakes, and crawled overland for six weeks until he reached civilization — which was really surprised and impressed to see him alive.

His story has been the basis of two feature-length films: Man in the Wilderness (1971) and The Revenant (2015).

Juliane Koepcke

Revisiting the crash site for a documenttary

On Dec. 24, 1971, a Peruvian commercial airliner crashed in a thunderstorm over the Amazon, killing every one of the 92 crew members and passengers aboard, except for one person...

High school senior Juliane Koepcke fell a total of 2 miles from the sky into the Amazon rainforest strapped to her seat — and walked away from the accident. For 10 days. Through the jungle. With a concussion, a broken collarbone, and a hole in her right arm. Then she met up with some local lumberman and took a canoe home.

After recovering from her injuries, Koepcke assisted search parties in locating the crash site and recovering the bodies of victims. Her mother's body was discovered on 12 January 1972.

Koepcke returned to her parents' native Germany, where she fully recovered from her physical injuries.


Dr. Leonid Rogozov

In 1961, Rogozov developed peritonitis, meaning that he would have to get his appendix taken out or die. The problem? He was the only doctor stationed at the Novolazarevskaya Station in Antarctica at the time, the nearest help was a thousand miles away, and a massive blizzard was forming, which meant that he would have to perform the appendectomy on himself.

With two non-medically trained researchers standing by to pass him tools, Rogozov used a mirror, some novocaine, and a scalpel to remove his appendix over the course of an excruciating two-hour operation. In 1961 he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, which is some cool Soviet award for being a total badass.

The operation started at 02:00 local time on 1 May with the help of a driver and meteorologist, who provided instruments and held a mirror so Rogozov could observe areas not directly visible. Rogozov lay in a semi-reclining position, half-turned to his left side. A solution of 0.5% novocaine was used for local anesthesia of the abdominal wall. Rogozov made a 10–12 cm incision of the abdominal wall, but while opening the peritoneum he accidentally cut the cecum and had to suture it. Then he exposed the appendix. According to his report, the appendix was found to have a dark stain at its base, and Rogozov estimated it would have burst within a day. The appendix was resected and antibiotics were applied directly into the peritoneal cavity. General weakness and nausea developed about 30–40 minutes after the start of the operation so that short pauses for rest were repeatedly needed after that. By about 04:00 the operation was complete.

After the operation, gradual improvement occurred in the signs of peritonitis and in the general condition of Rogozov. Body temperature returned to normal after five days, and the stitches were removed seven days after the operation. He resumed his regular duties in about two weeks.

The incident resulted in a change of policy, and thereafter, extensive health checks were mandatory for personnel to be deployed on such expeditions.


Jane Todd Crawford

In December 1809 in Green County, Kentucky, Jane Todd Crawford was informed that the thing she thought was a beyond-term pregnancy was actually a massive 22.5-pound ovarian tumor. In those days no one had ever successfully removed an ovarian tumor, but JTC wasn't the type to give up easily.

Tumor in tow, she rode horseback 60 miles to Danville to meet up with Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who was willing to cut the thing out of her in an operation that had never been previously attempted.

In those days, anesthesia was for wimps, and Jane opted for a dose of opium and five or six attendants to hold her down. She kept her spirits up by singing hymns and psalms until it was all over. Then she up and lived for another 32 years.

Grave of Jane Todd Crawford

Agustina de Aragón

Agustina de Aragón became known as “the Spanish Joan of Arc” during the Spanish War of Independence, when, after showing up at a battle to bring apples to the gunners, she ended up running in the wrong direction in what was supposed to be a retreat of Spanish soldiers and attacking the French cannons at point blank range with a cannon of her own, annihilating an entire wave of attackers.

The Spaniards were so inspired and shamed that they turned around and ran back to help her out. After a short battle, the French decided they were nowhere near crazy enough to take on Agustina and her friends and gave up.

Later on, she was captured by the French, who were about to rue the day they ever met her, because she made a daring escape and took over a band of guerrillas, which she proceeded to lead on a series of raids against the French army.

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