A giant lives among us in Minnesota.
Igor Vovkovinskiy was born in Ukraine. But by age seven, Vovkovinskiy had already outgrown the medical care available in that country.
He was then six feet tall and 200 pounds, and nowhere near fully grown. Vovkovinskiy moved with his family to southeastern Minnesota to receive regular treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. He now stands seven feet, eight inches tall, and is recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records as the tallest person living in the United States.
Earlier this week, Vovkovinskiy participated in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" thread, to help clear the air of some of the many, many questions people have about living life at that size. (He'd done an AMA thread already, but explained that "tons of people on Reddit are asking me the same questions," so he figured he'd try to handle them all at once.)
Vovkovinskiy was unfailingly polite and generous with his answers, though it's clear his condition puts a heavy burden on his body. He's had more than 25 surgeries on his left leg and foot alone, and Vovkovinskiy says he constantly endures pain of "7-8" on a scale from 1 to 10.
He takes a big dose of pain medication to make it bearable, though he'd rather not: "[M]y doctors will not give me enough meds," Vovkovinskiy wrote, "but I do not want to be on these frikin pills, they kill so many people. But in Minnesota I have no other choices."
By other choices, he's referring to medicinal marijuana, which is only approved for a small subset of chronic conditions in Minnesota. In fact, Minnesota did recently add "intractable pain" to its list of qualifying conditions, and the number of people enrolled in the medical cannabis program has more than doubled, with upwards of 3,200 people "active" enrollees.
Apparently Igor's doctors won't go for it.
"I really want to try the CBD [cannabidiol] capsules, but I can't get anyone to let me try it."
On another question, Vovkosinskiy was asked if he's got a rooting interest in professional football, and if so, which NFL team he supports.
His answer: "Well... if I say anything else, my house will be egged, so Minnesota Vikings!! No, but really, I like the Vikes."
So there you have it. Next time someone tries claiming he or she is the "biggest Vikings fan IN THE WORLD," just drop Igor Vovkovinskiy's name -- and size -- and watch their mouths drop open.
In spite of his pain, Igor seems like a genuinely kind, good-spirited person. Probably the sort of guy who'd be fun to watch the Vikes with some time. Bring your bong.