One year ago I made the hard decision not to visit hospices. After the New Year’s marathon, where I visited several hospices dressed as the Snow Maiden and with a broad smile on my face in order to give the dying the New Year’s greetings, I fell ill. Upon returning to Moscow I crawled into bed, I was shaking, experienced panic attacks, dizziness, and I started to see a psychologist. I still do. I developed cancer-phobia which is still making itself felt but it’s not as bad as it used to be. In part because I have not been to such institutions. I can’t.
I thought for six months I was about to die. I thought I had thousands of incurable illnesses. Kept looking for them, and lapsed into hypochondria with every health problem.
So, what’s all this about?
Helping hospices is a big part of our aid work. I don’t know how our Lena can find the strength this requires. Lilya was dying in a hospice, and Lena was constantly with her. Many of the people we were helping were there, and Lena sat with them, brought them food, stayed with them until the end. Food and medications are important, but don’t compare to Lena’s moral help. But I broke, and my post about it last year was indeed titled “Broken”. I don’t know if I’ve put myself together since. But I live on, smile, travel, while our aid continues full steam. But I still shudder when I remember the young man with a barely visible beard who was dying of cancer. I’m still horrified by the memory of Nina, whom we brought presents and who died two days later. Liliya, Inna, our Ira, and others.
I don’t know whence the hospice workers’ willpower. I don’t know, I don’t understand, and I simply tip my hat to them in respect as people who are always there.
We try to help them regularly. With cleaning supplies, diapers, detergents. These are seemingly little things, but the fact is that’s simply what’s not available. They get only minimal supplies, and suffer from catastrophic shortages. The worst situation is in the Kalinovka hospice, a town in the line of fire. Last year, when we came to visit, a shall struck two days after we left breaking windows. Nobody was injured. Shells there are a normal thing. There is no bomb shelter, but the workers laugh off such questions. Ordinary life with shells, dying elderly, and diapers in short supply.
The three kids on the photos below are Roma, Anya, and Katya, all from Lugansk. They have been just diagnosed with diabetes. The girls found out about it in emergency rooms. How is a parent to know what’s happening? The child simply appears weak, listless. That could be caused by a thousand things, including stress which is a normal thing OVER THERE. Many LPR kids have lived through bombings, slept in cellars and heard shells strike neighboring homes many times. And then the kid suddenly loses consciousness, falls into a coma.
The newly discovered diabetics are a post-war scourge. Their number is growing, unfortunately.
Friends, as you know, we try to help diabetics in the Republics. Insulin is being issued regularly, so far there are no problems with it, thank God. But as I already said many times, it’s hard to get test strips. It’s not even about getting them at the pharmacies. They can be purchased. The problem is that they cost a lot. And they are not issued for free, like insulin. Average LPR salary is about 5,000 rubles. A single test strip pack is 1,300 rubles, and one needs an average of two packs per month.
Thanks to everyone who responded to our call for help for the Novosvetlovka hospice in LPR.
Our hospice, if one may use that term. The hospice where our Lilya departed. A place were people depart.
This is a new ward in the Novosvetlovka hospital, replacing the maternity ward. We’ve been helping it since it opened in early 2016. The money we’ve collected was used to buy cleaning agents and powders which are in short supply.
There is a hospice in Novosvetlovka. Those who followed the Donbass events of 2014 know this village well. It was a site of heavy fighting. Whole streets became ruins. There are masses of burned out military vehicles, I saw them myself during my first humanitarian aid visits to LPR. After 2014, the village has struggled without electricity or water. It has been gradually restored.
And so was the hospital, which has not shut down for even a minute. Many people found shelter in its cellars.
But the maternity ward was closed, and later a hospice was opened in its place.
Posts like this one are very hard to write and we put them off until the end. I was srecently asked how Liliya was doing and I realized that I was subconsciously evading talking about it. Liliya has been dying and everyone, including herself, know that but there is nothing to be done. Liliya has terminal cancer which is irreversible. Moreover, the woman has no relatives who could help and visit her. Only her son, who is in need of assistance himself. When I was in Lugansk in late April I was not able to visit Liliya. I couldn’t find the strength.
Liliya is burning out and we realize she can die at any moment. I wanted to write that Liliya is alive thanks to a miracle and it’s improbable that she’s still alive at all given her diagnosis. Last fall she was given weeks. But I know this miracle has a name–our Lena.
She visits Liliya three times a week. Three times a week she spends hours with Liliya, supporting her, keeping her company. Three times a week she brings Liliya food, diapers, which are indispensable. Also brings medications which the hospice can’t provide. And she’s like a squeezed out lemon after every visit.
Lena, there are no words which can express that kind of gratitude.
If someone can’t be cured, it doesn’t mean they can’t be helped”–I’ve read that phrase somewhere concerning palliative care and it stuck. And only now did I realize it hits the nail on the head. Liliya was quietly dying in her home in Lugansk, of terminal cancer. Her legs gave out and there was nobody left to help. Nobody needed her. She was taking care of a 14-year-old son whom she forbade to change her diapers–which was understandable.
Thanks to you we have an opportunity to make Liliya’s life easier.
Do you remember her earlier photos? Just look–an entirely different person.
Maybe it’s not proper to say this, I don’t know, but yes–Liliya is blooming.
I’m often called a volunteer, but that’s not true. I’m no volunteer, not even an aid worker.
I don’t know how to properly label that which I do. I realized that I can’t be a volunteer who helps hospice patients, the disabled, the elderly. I can write a report, can place myself in someone else’s place and write about that, go to the “front” where there’s danger. Yes, I will be afraid, just like any normal person. But I’ll get over it. But looking into the eyes of people who have only very little time left is beyond my strength. I wasn’t able to get used to in even in three years. Abandoned elderly, disabled kids, the dying in hospices–all of it kills me. I can’t.
But our Lena can. I don’t know how. I don’t know where she gets her strength from.
As of late, one can detect contempt toward our emigrants emanating from among the patriotic community. “Traitors”, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” I don’t find it pleasant to read, and I want to not only defend our people abroad but say that many of them are bigger patriots than people who put “Thank you Grandfather for the Victory” stickers on their cars, but at the same time behave rudely and don’t let pedestrians cross the road.
I’ve encountered that directly. I’m not talking about the rude individuals but Russian patriots in other countries.
There are many of them among my readers. And!
Many of them continually help the Donbass.
The majority of funds for the aid effort is coming from them, the inhabitants of Canada, USA, Australia, Germany, England, Austria, Norway, etc.
During these years, I’ve found lots of groups on facebook, LiveJournal, VK, where people cooperate, assemble truckloads of aid, and send it to the Donbass.
One can hardly imagine what it takes–organizing logistics into the unrecognized republics from abroad! It’s extremely complex, I know what I’m talking aobut.
They do it themselves, through foundations, through volunteers such as myself. And if you think they are former inhabitants of Lugansk and Donetsk regions, you are mistaken.
Many of them are from families which have never visited these places. And I am once again happy to witness all this and to be able to help.
I wrote a big piece about the events in LPR, then erased it.
Too many emotions–I was remembering ’14, ’15.
It’s better I tell you about the Novosvetlovka hospice again.
This village was one of the most damaged during this war.
During the summer of ’14 it was nearly wiped off the surface of the earth. There was hard fighting. On every street there were many burned out tanks and APCs. Dozens of ruins where houses used to be. So many stories about marauders, about the locals whom the Aidar Battalion herded into the church. Many of the surviving houses were utterly looted.
The church, incidentally, has been restored. Many of the damaged homes were rebuilt too. Ukraine played no part in it at all, even though it still views this territory as its own but at the same time is refusing to pay even the pensions to people who for all these years worked and paid taxes into its budget.
The hospital’s maternity ward that was hit by many shells and in whose cellars many of the villagers were surviving, a hospice was opened in ’16. I write about it from time to time.