Tanya’s War

Tanya died in Lugansk on February 5.
Did we know that would happen?
Yes, we did.
Tanya had the fourth stage of cancer, so everything pointed in that direction.
I often ask myself whether Lilya, Ira, Inna, Sofia, and other people under our care would have died if it weren’t for the war?
I don’t know.
At first glance, it would seem it wasn’t the war that killed them.
It was cancer.
A disease which cuts down people irrespective of where and how they live. Rich, beautiful, young, successful. Cancer doesn’t care. Scientists are looking for causes, they seem to have found something, there are various theories. But…nobody can say anything with confidence.
I first encountered that disease when I was 14, when a school friend got ill. I visited him for a year, every week, in the children’s ward on Kashirka. He had lung cancer and he should have died.
But he survived. In spite of it all.
I remember well the children in the hallway who would at some point disappear.
I was a child myself, and my mom at first would not allow me to go to the hospital, fearing for me. She was probably right. But I could not be stopped.
I I also remember my naive question asked of the small lovely girl with an IV: “why?” “for what?”
The people we cared for were killed by cancer.
The young Tanya was killed by cancer.
She left behind Maksim who now lives in an orphanage.
This is not combat. Not bombings, not wounds.
It’s a terrible disease which carried off this beautiful young girl with an IV whom I saw on the Kashirka.
It carried off many.
But you know what I know for certain?
I know that if it weren’t for the war, many of these people would have been able to obtain proper care in time. Get drugs, surgeries, accurate diagnoses. And some would have survived.
Many of them developed cancer as they sat in cellars and were afraid to go outside.
Many of them had cancer develop at a spectacular speed after what they lived through.
Yes, one can say that in some cases war was the catalyst.
Doctors in the cancer ward in Lugansk told us many times that now Lugansk is experiencing a cancer boom. Long lines which the surgeons can’t cope with. There was nothing like that before the war.
And yes, I think Tanya was killed by the war.
Please pray, those of you who are believers, for Tanya.

RIP

Tanya and her son in December. One of the last photos where she’s smiling.

 

Various News

We have news.
I tried to find the right words for this, but couldn’t think anything other than “various”.
Various news.
Tanya is leaving. Tanya, whom we have been helping for several years. Cancer, fourth stage.
The young son is still in an orphanage, the mother can’t do anything anymore. Endless operations, chemos, more chemos.
Now she’s home.
She has more pain, fever has been constant for a while, she’s more frequently unconscious. Our friends managed to obtain an effective painkiller for cancer patients. They make her sleep all the time. She only has days left. Perhaps hours.
A priest was summoned recently.
And we also found a caregiver for her.
It’s our blind Vika’s mom, Sveta.
Sveta spent many years caring for her mother. When we met in the spring of ’15 in Lugansk, in addition to the dead son, ill and blind Vika, she was taking care of her bed-ridden mother. Vika’s grandmother and Sveta’s mom died when the two were in the TB clinic in Moscow. Now Sveta helps us with Tanya.
That’s how things are.

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What a turn of events!

A phone call right before the New Year: “Your mom is in a coma”.
No, that’s not right.
Once upon a time, there were two girls–Marina and Alyona. Listen to their story.
They spent practically the whole war by themselves. I wrote about them many times. They never knew where their fathers were (each had a different one), and the story with their mother is even more interesting. When the war started, Marina, the older and shorter of the two, left for Russia with a boyfriend, while the younger stayed with her mother. Heavy bombing stopped, so Marina returned to the now established LPR and found nobody home. Mother lived in some dump with some dude, with Alyonka looking on. Marina immediately took her sister from the mother. The two started living together.
So, Alyonka grew, went to school. While Marinka took on all kinds of jobs–sales clerk, seller, bookkeeper, loader, etc. Working several shifts while herself so thin as to be almost translucent. If you remember, she once broke her leg, and got no compensation for it. WE offered her help with her studies, there was someone willing to pay for it. But Marina was so afraid for her sister and so afraid to put her hopes in anyone that she refused.
The house is half-empty. Either the mother took everything away, or some woman who lived there for some time in ’14 did. Moreover, the apartment accumulated a pile of debts which the mother wasn’t even trying to pay off. We then collected money to cover the utilities debts so that electricity and water wasn’t cut off.
We managed, thank you for that.
The girls lived for all these years on their own–with a turtle and a hamster. Mom never remembered them. They waved their arms when asked about her: “don’t wanna know her”. We’ve tried to help them all these years, with the bills, food, clothing, money.
I remember how once we came to visit them without warning, bringing presents, and they were so frightened that they hid in a corner and were afraid to move. They thought one of the mother’s former roommates showed up.
And then the New Year’s phone call.
“Your mom is in a coma”. It was a stroke. Two weeks in a hospital. Nobody needs her, except the sisters.
Marina borrowed money from neighbors for treatment. They took the woman home.

Viktoria

Many people have written me not go to the Donbass over the next month, due to the expected “offensive”.
I’m not referring to my mom, her default opinion is that the situation is always escalating, particularly when I’m getting ready to go. That’s understandable. Indeed, many sources report that things will get “hot”. Like in Debaltsevo. Like in ’14. But they’ve predicted this so many times, it’s hard to believe it. If you do believe, it’s nothing to get excited about because you’ve gotten used to it.
But I’m actually not going to the Donbass next month. That’s how things turned out, and not because of these predictions. Zhenya hasn’t fixed the car, there’s lots of work at school, everything had to be pushed back and the trip got canceled. My mom exhaled in relief.
But I’m sad. I don’t even know why exactly, but I’m sad I’m not there right now.
I’m said because I miss it.
I miss Seryozha, Lena and Zhenya, our Lev Kuznechik from Pervomaysk.
I miss Vika.
The beautiful girl whom we’ve been helping since the spring of 2015. Who’s been through TB, diabetes, blindness, loss of brother.
You can read more about her by clicking on the “Vika” tag at the bottom of this post.
Friends, thank you for helping her and other people in our care!

Medications for Vika

Thanks to everyone who, in spite of the holidays, vacations, and personal affairs, continue to send money.
Separate thanks to Denis from Australia, who is an important reason why we are able to continue helping Vika.

Thanks to everyone! And I hope very much to be able to see Vika in person soon.
She’s doing more or less well. Not better, but also not worse.
.

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 for Vika “Vika”.

Helping the Surgery Ward

Friends, I want to thank everyone who, in spite of the holiday chaos, continues to participate in our Donbass aid effort.
Thanks to you, were were able and are able to do a lot to help this region.
It may sound immodest, but my little-known blog sometimes does more than many well-known foundations, people, and even organizations. I’m genuinely proud of myself, my team, and us all! Because the volume of what we’ve done is impressive.
Thank you for your caring!
In addition to helping specific families who found themselves in dire straits, we help hospices, retirement homes, orphanages, and hospitals.

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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”

How many families are like that?

Katya’s home in Valuyskoye was completely destroyed during fighting in 2014. They fled to Russia where they started over as refugees. With nothing. Four kids plus parents. One must say things went well for them in the Nizhnyy Novgorod Region. But a short circuit-caused fire nearly killed them. Katya saved the family when she woke up the parents and carried out two of her unconscious siblings. She received an order for bravery. I wrote about it in August, in a post titled Hero Girl.
They all survived but…had no place to live. They returned to Lugansk, as there was no place for them in Valuyskoye and they didn’t want to go back there anyway. It’s occupied by UAF, therefore they went to LPR. To start over with nothing for a second time. But already this summer they suffered a tragedy.
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Badly Needed: Coal and Firewood

Olya and Lena are single moms. They are both barely surviving.
They lived through the bombing of Lugansk in the city itself, sitting in cellars. Now they live in a place which is scarcely fit to live…
They both await the coming of winter with horror.
During the summer of 2014, Olya was pregnant and already had a three-year-old boy. Her house was badly damaged, only a wing remained where she lives with her two sons. No plumbing, no gas, she heats the shed using wood she collects. It’s hard to collect enough wood, but there are no other options.
The father disappeared already in 2014. He’s unlikely to be among the living.

Younger son Ilya

Only one room is habitable, and that’s the one they heat.

The entryway. You can see how things are from the photos. They really need coal and firewood. They don’t have enough money to keep up with the heating. They barely have enough for food and clothing.


These are Lena’s sons. There is also an older daughter who studies at a college to become a nutritionist.
They all live together in that wing which is better than Olya’s, but still…
Before the war she and her husband rented an apartment. When the fighting began, the husband vanished. Or, rather, simply dumped them. Lena was forced to find whatever place to live she could.
Same situation with heat as with Olya–coal and wood are needed. They all but use furniture for fuel, and this is a big problem for the family.

Vova and Misha

Lena works, but she has to raise three kids alone.
They barely have enough money, with benefits and all. But not enough for firewood during winter. They economize on everything possible. Zhenya said that when he brought food, the kids devoured it with their eyes. It was clear there was nothing at home.
Both families need a total of two tons of coal and a few cubic meters of wood. A ton of coal costs around 4 thousand rubles. Wood is cheaper, about 1500 per meter. Plus delivery costs.
Shall we help Olya and Lena survive this winter?
Yet another winter which is a quest for survival, because they heat with whatever they can find. They freeze, they sleep fully dressed, under ten blankets.
Please label your contributions “firewood”.

Thank you, friends, for your caring!

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 for these families “firewood”.

Children and Diabetes

The pudgy-cheeked pup on the photo was born in Lugansk already during the war. Sasha very recently found herself in a hospital. They found diabetes, before that she was in emergency rooms three times.
Unfortunately, LPR diabetes problems have gotten much worse. The number of insulin-dependent patients is growing rapidly. What can one say. It all comes down to–“war”.
Now the kid has to take insulin shots. It’s issued for free (though they say there might be problems with deliveries of certain kinds before the New Year). But test strips or glucose meters are another story–parents have to buy those themselves. The girl can’t survive if her sugar can’t be monitored.
Initially one needs lots of strips. Usually a diabetic uses two packets a month. But newly diagnosed ones four or five…Test strips cost 1100 rubles per packet in Lugansk. Often much more.
And one must remember that the average LPR salary is about 5,000. Which is the entire income of Sasha’s family.
The girl’s mom is panicking, since she has no idea where to get the money. But they must find them–that’s the new reality. And in addition to the test strips, they have to buy food, pay for utilities.
We got them a glucose meter and some test strips, our friends delivered them to the hospital where Sasha is a patient.


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