Special Greetings

The Lugansk Aid Center (the official name is different and totally tooth-rattling) keeps score of many families. With multiple children, without fathers, with adoptive children, with disabled children–everyone who for one reason or another found themselves in a “difficult situation.” They receive help within the center’s abilities. After 2014 the number of such families sharply increased. It also included refugees, who fled to Lugansk from border zones. Many lost their homes, relatives, and other sources of aid. There were many wounded, many people who lost relatives, many disabled. The situation of families who were struggling before the war became utterly desperate when the war began. Unfortunately, there are many women with children who were abandoned by their husbands and have to live on crumbs. There was a New Year’s tree ceremony held for them, during which we, for the fourth year running, give presents to the children. But there were also kids who were unable to come. These kids are disabled.
We came upon the idea several years ago of visiting these families to bring them presents. I did that myself last year. By the end of the day I was prostrate with fatigue but it was genuine happiness. The happiness of children, their parents, grandparents. Both the children and the adults sang, danced, and even cried from the joy and the unexpectedness.
This year I passed the baton to the amazing Olya, a social worker at the Lugansk Center. You should remember Olya, we keep helping her cancer-stricken mother with medications.
Here are some photos of Olya the Snow Maiden with the kids. Various kids–some have mental deficiencies, others physical ones. Yet others have none, but all of these kids and their parents are struggling.
Zhenya wrote: “They were waiting for us!!! The kids were prepared, they recited enough poems to last us the whole year.)) For most of them this was a happy event–this much was clear to an unaided eye.”
You don’t know most of these kids, though others you’ve met on the pages of my journal.
Friends, thanks to all of you who helped make this holiday for the kids! You can’t imagine what it means to them to be visited by Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden. It’s the happiest of happiness.
Special greetings for these special kids!


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Karina

Karina will turn two in a month. She is alive and growing only because she gets an injection of Cerebrocurine every two months which the family can barely afford. It’s a crisis every time it’s the turn to buy more ampules. But the big problem is not even the money, but rather that it’s hard to get the drug in LPR.
Zhenya said that Ira, the girl’s mom, is “out of her mind”.
When she was one month old, she was diagnosed with a internal hematoma in a location which ruled out trauma. She had a surgery, there were complications, followed by meningoencephalitis. Now there is a liquid where the hematoma used to be, which cannot be removed. She needs the injections to live.

Ira and Karina


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How’s Seryozha?

I have been writing about Seryozha less and less frequently, even though he’d become one of the main heroes of our blog.
Everyone’s been laughing at me because of the mustache, for Seryozha shaved it off six months after we became acquainted. He went and shaved it off. Lena comes to see him, looks, points with a finger: “Mustache, Seryozha, where’s the mustache?”
Seryozha touches that part of his face where the mustache ought to be and looks puzzled. Lena wags her finger: “Mustache, Seryozha, it’s very important!”
Everyone had a laugh.
Seryozha grew back his mustache. I never saw him without one. Then I came to see him in the retirement home in Lugansk, shortly after his leg was amputated. He looks at me, smiles, and says: “Here I am, with a mustache!” His eyes were gleaming with mischief.
We’ve been taking care of Seryozha since the spring of 2015, when we met him in Khryashchevatoye. He was homeless, lived in a barrack without water or electricity, had progressive polyarthritis. A few weeks later he had a bad fall. It was a miracle he survived it, but a leg had to be amputated.
Much happened since then, and he’s become one of “ours”.  To read more about him, click on the “Kutsenko” tag at the bottom of this post.
How’s he doing?
Well, our happy-go-lucky-guy is beginning to give in..

 

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“Stresses”

You remember Natasha, right? A crazy and terrifying story.
A young woman, mother of two, epileptic. Lost her husband and home to the war. Due to “stresses” (heavens, what word can one use to describe “war”, the death of a husband, the loss of a home to shelling?) she developed a tumor on her head. She had a surgery and a plate inserted. We’ve been helping her since the summer.
Here’s how where things stand right now.

I’ll cite Zhenya, since he and others have been doing everything:
“After a visit to neuropathologist, at the regional clinic (if you want this “hero’s” name, it’s in the medical history extract). He prescribed a “wonder drug” which is “guaranteed to help.” Though he forgot or ignored her earlier prescriptions for epilepsy. We drove around the town, found the “wonder drug”. And…Natasha’s life was barely saved. Blood and foam came from her mouth. She couldn’t inhale. They barely managed to pump her stomach out. It turns out that when that “doctor’s” prescription is combined with her other drugs, it becomes poison. She was very lucky to get stomach pumped in time.
People! HOW”S THAT POSSIBLE? You have this far from young “experienced” asshole prescribing a powerful drug with a long list of side effects who cannot be bothered to find out what else is the patient taking?”
No comment from me. We were all in shock.

Thank goodness our friends found a normal doctor in Lugansk who helped after a thorough examination.
One of the source of problems with Natasha’s head turned out to be her teeth. She started losing them after the war started. She has a bunch of rotten stumps which get infected all the time.

Here’s what Zhenya wrote:
“Here’s what we did:
1. Took her to a hospital, 10 days in neurology. An IV for epilepsy and spine pain, immobilized her neck. Promised it should be enough for a year.
2. Organized an examination at the cancer clinic (lump on the head). Came back negative–HURRAH!
3 Organized an exam at the oral surgeon and a neuropathologist.
4. Underwent all the analyses, some of which had to be paid for.
5. A complete jaw x-ray.
6. Began to remove tooth roots (Poor Natasha is suffering, eats mashed food only).
7. Brought food twice in the last month (see photo).
8. Provided necessary drugs.

Enormous volume of work. We were particularly afraid of what the cancer clinic would say.
Thank goodness tests came back negative.

These are photos from the fall. Our friends brought her food and medications, as noted above. Most importantly, Zhenya helped with the doctors and analyses. Unfortunately, most of them in Lugansk are not free, and there’s nothing to be done. Moreover, all the specialists have long waiting lists.

Friends, I want to thank everyone who responded to Natasha’s need.
You can’t even imagine how much we were able to do thanks to your contributions.
She wouldn’t have managed without us. The cost of the plate in her head alone was beyond her means. Then there are her debts to the neighbors, grocery store, utilities. We were able to deal with all that. I have no words.
Thank you!


But Natasha still needs fillings for 7 teeth. She’s still a young woman, can’t make live without teeth. She needs inexpensive removable plastic prosthetics. Natasha has no money for them, either.
I already wrote that after the war started, Natasha’s fits became more frequent even though she had almost none earlier. Her epilepsy used to be under control. Now it is not, and she can’t work.
They live on a pension and disability benefits, which is barely enough to survive. They struggle to buy enough food. If it weren’t for us, it’s impossible to say what would have happened.
“Stresses” simply knocked her over.
If you want to help, please label your contributions “Natasha”.

Natasha’s medical history extracts.

If you want to join the aid effort for the people of the Donbass, please write me in person through LiveJournal, facebookV Kontakte, or email: littlehirosima@gmail.com. Paypal address: littlehirosima@gmail.com

Please label contributions intended for Natasha “Natasha”

Our Vika

We’ve been helping Vika for over three years now. We’re helping her and her mom. They live in Lugansk, LPR.
She has diabetes and lost her eyesight. Had TB. Lost a brother, also a diabetic.
That’s the short version.
Why did she lose her eyesight?
Sometime ago I wrote a post about how my nephew asked about her and her eyesight, why she lost it, I curtly replied “war”.
It’s probably the most accurate answer and it’s hard to add anything to it. Even though my posts about Vika are visited by the “all-knowing” who tell me the war had nothing to do with it, it’s Vika own fault and her mom’s too. That they inject insulin improperly, monitor blood sugar improperly, etc. I even stopped getting angry reading these comments. Although initially I would try, with shaking hands, explain how difficult it was to get insulin in LPR in ’14 and ’15. Explain what it’s like to live with no money and ability to buy even test strips. When you are alone, without a husband, with a bedridden mother, and your son is dying. When there is bombing, when you are sitting in a cellar. But I stopped.
You read a post about Vika about once a month on this blog. We’ve been through a lot in these three years. If you want to know more, click on the “Vika” tag at the bottom of this post.

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Oksana

Oksana’s husband went off to the militia almost at once, in ’14. He died on May 9, 2015. This was too much to bear for Oksana, she cut herself away from the outside world. No, she did not go insane. She feeds her kids, talks. But it’s as if she’s living in her own world, not ours. I didn’t see her, our friends went to visit. Zhenya was naturally struck taken aback when he met her. He says that it’s as if he wasn’t talking to her but to a shroud. “Quiet, monotonous, correct speech. But without emotion, empty…”

On the photo, her kids, Masha born in 2010, and Kolya, 2012.

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Big Family

Elena Vasilyevna has 4 children.
It’s a big family, where the oldest son Kolya has Down Syndrome.
And you can probably guess where they are from, since they are on my blog.
Yes, from LPR.
Why didn’t they leave?
Well, they did leave.
They managed to leave within 24 hours when the city was closed by a blockade. And you know how many didn’t manage to leave? How many tried but couldn’t? Or were killed or wounded while trying to leave?
Elena Vasilyevna and her family escaped to Crimea and remained there until the ceasefire.
Some ceasefire…
Then she returned home. And thank God the home was whole, though neighboring ones were hit. And they were not plundered, which is not a rarity either, alas…
Why did they return?
This can’t be answered with a single sentence, I’m afraid.
Do you know how many returned? How many families tried to find work and housing but couldn’t? And it’s hard for a family with 4 kids, one of whom is disabled. Very hard. Incidentally, we returned many families with multiple children who returned. “Who needs us there”. Many kids, all have to be accommodated, fed, work has to be found…And one doesn’t have one’s own house or garden…
Because, you know, they simply went back home.

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Medications for Lyosha

Friends, here’s the thing.
Lyosha was an ordinary child until the age of 3. Then he had a vaccination and problems began. In the end, he was diagnosed with “mental deficiency, emotional instability”. I don’t know about the vaccination, we’ll leave these debates for the appropriate venues, but it’s a fact he’s 14 and disabled. He lives in Lugansk with his mom who can’t work because she takes care of him. His mood can change in an instant and he loses control. The mom tried to work but it did not end well so she’s afraid to leave him alone for long. They live on a 2,000 ruble pension. Lyosha has to spend the rest of his life taking medications without which things are worse still. He gets fits so extreme that he damages furniture…
I wrote about him in mid-September. I wrote quickly, as an afterthought. But we, or rather Lena and Zhenya, only just got to know them and didn’t realize how complicated things are.
Here’s the crux of the problem.


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As you are. With a mustache.

–Dunyash, how are things?
–Oh, I published a book!
–You don’t say! What kind of book?
–It has something about you, too.
–About me? A book?
–Not the book, but a whole chapter?
–And what do I look like in it?
–As you are. With a mustache?
Have you seen him lately, the devil?


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Viktoria–it means victory

My book about the Donbass was written during the 2015-16 winter. At that time we were busy taking Vika from Lugansk to Moscow to try to save her sight.
Vika was taken in by one of the best opthalmological wards in Moscow. The hospital at FMBA.
While Zhenya and I were driving around Moscow, Vika was smiling from ear to ear and listened to our descriptions of what we saw. We drove through the center, and Our Bellflower kept listening to the street noise. It was her first time in Moscow so she wanted to know every detail.

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