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Featured in: Cold, Military/war, Painful, Shocking, Sleep(y)

You’re in the army now!

By: ChibiNekoChan | May 17, 2016 - 11:55 am

I grew up in a country where military service was mandatory when I was military age (18) - and here is my military story. I got stationed up north. Very far north. Close to the North Pole north. Which meant that winters were long, dark and cold. Very freaking cold. At some point in December, we are out in the woods, pitching tents and fighting imaginary Russian enemies. Everything is completely dark, except for about an hour every day when it’s kind of dim. You don’t see the sun, but you see the sun-rays hitting the mountain tops. I had heard stories about this before, but didn’t realize what it was like until I was there for real. Anyways, we had been on this military exercise for a few days in the freezing cold. We had barely slept for days and were beaten down. This coming night was the first night when we were going to get some decent sleep, and it just couldn’t come fast enough. Its negative 37 Celsius, but thankfully we have a heating source in the tent to keep it liveable. After wearing the same clothes for three days, I slide off my very smelly socks (which have also become a firm mirror image of the inside of my shoes), change into a new t-shirt and boxer (I could comment on this but it would be unpleasant reading..) and disappear down in my sleeping bag and I am gone to never-never land almost immediately. When the heating source is on in the tent, it is important that one person is at all times awake and pays attention to it, as it is a heating furnace burning oil and it would be a shame if the tent caught fire and all the soldiers got fried alive. The soldier who is guarding the heating source before it’s my turn fell asleep. And the flame died off. So when I wake up for my shift, it’s as cold inside the tent as on the outside. Which means negative 37 Celsius!!! I am completely lost as I was just shaken out of the deepest possible REM sleep. I have no desire to react to the noises around me. Somebody yells ‘Get the fucking furnace back on! Now!!! I hear the words but my body remains still in the sleeping bag. I then have a moment of clarity and realize what’s going on. I rip open my sleeping bag - then the freeze, frost and hell is attacking from all angles, frost is absorbing and engulfing and suffocating my vulnerable pale, weak upper body -- it is shockingly painful, stinging absolutely everywhere - like big angry needles. I can’t breathe, no air, my lungs just won’t let me fill them with air!! It’s hard to describe in words how cold and miserable that was, particularly given that I had to get from being almost naked in a sleeping bag to fully clothed in order to get the heat restored. You know the feeling when you freeze and start to shiver? I went from a relatively normal state to almost immediate uncontrollable, over-exaggerated defibrillator-like convulsions. I had no control over my limbs - they had lives completely of their own. I held out my pants and wanted to put my right leg in the right side of the pants, but I couldn’t get my leg to hit the hole, it was completely out of control and I could not enforce my will over it!! I eventually got dressed. Someone else put the heat back on. With my chin resting on my bent-up knees, staring at the shadow of the dancing flames. Just happy to be alieve (and to be able to tell you this crazy story).

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