Krocodile thoughts

Thanks a lot Dreamhost for a day of downtime. Greaaaaaat service. I can’t imagine how many customers they lost today. If anyone wants to suggest a cheap and easy and painfree host for my WordPress blogs, I’m listening. Anyway, I recently got the following email which introduced me to yet another grotesque corner of the net:

Subject: curious if you've heard about krokodil

and if you havent please dont look it up while eating, not sure why but when i heard about this i wondered if you had also

I actually hadn’t heard of it until this email so curiosity made me bite. There’s an article in The Independent called Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies and of course the Desomorphine Wikipedia entry has an introduction, but basically Krokodil is an inexpensive street drug that approximates the chemical structure of heroin by processing over-the-counter Codeine pills with iodine and red phosphorus. Unfortunately no effort is made to purify the drug, so you’re not only getting desomorphine (which isn’t inherently dangerous) but also highly corrosive toxins. These toxins eat away at the drug user’s flesh until it’s dead and gangrenous and literally falling off their body. It’s more horrible than you can possibly imagine, and users have an average lifespan of just a couple years after starting.

The pictures of people doing krokodil make those “Faces of Meth” websites look like a friendly beauty product. They are truly horrific. There is a big over-the-top disgusting photo gallery on Buzzfeed, but there was one awful photo from that page that struck me. Click the image to see it uncensored, or follow that previous link for lots more grossness.

There’s one thing though that really struck me in that photo. The tissue around the exposed bone at the hand end, and around most of its length, actually appears to be healed, as impossible as my gut tells me that is. Not that it looks by any means healthy, and the elbow end of the bone looks positively rotted, but it really goes to show how single-minded I am when my first thought was running through all the body modification possibilities — the idea that it is possible to strip and expose a bone, have it come up and out of the flesh, and actually survive and heal like that is wild. Could you do this with collar bones for example? I found some medical and veterinary and dental references with a quick search but I think it’s complicated because I’m not sure what medical terms to use that will save me from a zillion false positives.

It reminds me of an old story that I remember from about 1995 when (I think) someone I worked with at Stainless Studios (I can’t remember who) told me about someone that came in or someone they knew of — and I can’t tell you this isn’t an urban legend, who had been in some sort of an accident that left him with exposed bone on his scalp. I suppose there are animals that you could argue have exposed bone, so perhaps it’s possible, and these krokodil photos make me think even more that it’s possible. Anyway, the punch line of the story was that this individual had an image placed on the bone through some process akin to scrimshaw. Might be a good thing for someone to include in a steampunk graphic novel or something.

PS. And as a side note, the fact that people are willing to destroy themselves with Krokodil really shows you how much addicts are victimized by their condition… how desperate opiate addiction can make a person both to get back to that place where they felt good, and to get away from soul-crushing withdrawal. It really sucks that the system is far too often set up around a “punishment” mentality rather than a “treatment” mentality.


  1. Shannon wrote:

    I think your concerns for the harm addicts are willing to do to themselves is well founded. The drug laws are so irrational that they increase both the cost and harm of illicit drugs at the expense of all who use drugs, or pay taxes. The war on (some) drugs is really a civil war against users of (some) drugs, many of whom are desperately self-medicating to treat significant psychological or physical torment. This chemical bigotry seems to run deepest in Christian circles, but they have been exposed as being the largest group to ever protect child molesters and as also laundering mafia money; as such they have given assistance to and profited from the very crimes they claim to detest, and that gives them and what they profess a decidedly Satanic bias.

    If Jesus can’t heal the sick here and now should human suffering be increased to punish the sick?

    Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:35 am | Permalink
  2. Thomas Moore wrote:

    I’m fairly sure #9 is a still shot from a video I watched a while ago on the internet where they basically use a bone saw to remove his foot whilst still in the wheelchair. I might be wrong, but i’m definitely not going looking for it a second time round.

    Monday, January 30, 2012 at 5:03 am | Permalink
  3. Darrin wrote:

    My dreamhost sites stayed up yesterday. I went and checked them as soon as I saw yours down, though, suspecting it was their fault. Guess it’s the old “cheap” vs “reliable” problem again. At least it sounds like they’re trying to ensure it’s not likely to happen again.


    Update Jan 29th, 9:40pm PST:

    From Simon Anderson, CEO, DreamHost: My sincere apologies for the downtime experienced today by many of our dedicated and VPS customers, plus some shared customers. I know that this has been a poor customer experience for you. Almost all services are back up after an intense effort from the DreamHost dev, admin, data center and support teams. I was involved in the coordination of our efforts today and now am able to share what happened, and what we’re going to do to reduce the risk that it happens again.

    We run Debian OS and have used autoupdates to ensure security packages are installed as soon as they are available. We’ve had some breakage in the past from this approach, but nothing major. However last night’s autoupdate went badly wrong, removing essential packages from dedicated, VPS and some shared servers. Our monitoring and support team flagged the issue fast, and we scrambled our admin, dev and NOC teams to reinstall the packages that had been removed by autoupdate, reboot servers, fix package dependencies, and test that individual services were live. Given the number of services affected, this took a long time to complete. Rest assured we had all hands working on the issue, but I know it was still a frustrating experience for customers.

    To mitigate the risk of anything like this happening again, we’re immediately switching off autoupdates, and moving to a manual process where we’ll only push out Debian updates after significant testing. There’s always a balance to be struck between speed, efficiency, security and issue prevention, but this event has shown us that we need to take a different approach. Again, my apologies for the downtime experienced today. We’re acutely focused on adjusting our processes and systems to ensure we do a better job going forward. – Simon

    Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink
  4. Twwly wrote:

    Holy fuck. Well, learned something new today. I can barely believe what I am looking at.

    I am left wondering why the limbs in 9, 10 and 11 (though 10 & 11 are the same woman it looks like) have not been amputated? I would sort of assume that would happen right out of the gate if any of these folks wound up at a hospital. Surely some of them go?


    And I have seen animals with healed skin and exposed bone, so I in theory it is possible. I am sure that the animals have a better diet and stronger immune system than any of these junkies.

    Monday, January 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Permalink
  5. Twwly wrote:

    OK. I get it. Just finished watching some of this madness on YouTube… they don’t live long enough. You weren’t kidding about shortened lifespan.

    Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
  6. talby wrote:

    I’m not a doctor- but afaik, skin heals faster than bone, so injuries can heal with the bone exposed in the short term, but the lack of blood supply means that the exposed bone is necrotic and will slowly degrade. The other thing I would guess is that because bone is so porous, there’s a constant risk of infection at the site where the bone renters the body.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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