Oh, dear friends.
This is a complicated story, and our aid here is badly needed.
There are people who are like “tanks”. They keep getting hit, but they get up and keep going. Or break their legs, but keep on crawling. They can. Then there are people who don’t know how to struggle. It’s difficult for them to get up after they fall. Or when everything is collapsing, they can’t get out of the way. Life becomes a flood of losses and pain. And war is just that kind of a lethal hailstorm which not everyone can evade.
Elena Ivanovna is 58. She’s lived in Lugansk since the early ’90s. She has a son whom she gave birth to at the age of 43–Danila was born in 2003.
In ’14, the bloody year when war came to the region, they weren’t able to leave. They lived near Kambrody. It got hit pretty hard.
Shells fell there every day for two months. Every day. There was no power, no water, no phone service. Stores were closed, the city was blockaded.
In ’15, Elena fell and broke her hip. She needed a prosthetic, but in Lugansk that cost money. At that time, fighting had barely stopped and while the war entered its passive phase, it still was there. They had no money at all. The bones were somehow set but they healed improperly. She didn’t walk for two years, since ’17 she’s been using crutches.
Then she suffered a tragedy.
Yesterday was crazy. We sent Rodion back to Lugansk after his first cochlear implant tuning and I was keeling over with exhaustion when Ira called.
Ira Bednova is an amazing human being. Widowed by the death of the husband, commander Batman, she’s been active helping people for almost five years. It is only thanks to her that we were able to give Rodion a chance to have his hearing restored, bring Vika to Moscow for treatment, and evacuate Sergey Balanov who had cancer. Ira helped tens of individiuals.
So here’s the phone call:
–Dunya, Aleksey is to be hospitalized on Monday.
I was speechless. And I jumped up like a mountain goat!
Because, my friends, this is a real miracle!
A miracle to which we are witnesses.
Aleksey had an emergency.
I wrote about it in early May.
The young man suffered from an aneurysm. I still don’t understand what that is, but the point is that it has something to do with blood vessels in the head.
He fell and lost consciousness. Then ambulances, tests, and the worrisome diagnosis.
He’s been confined to a bed for months. Any stress or sudden movement could kill him. He’s hanging by a thread.
This requires a surgery which in Donetsk costs serious money (I posted the bill and medical history in the earlier post). Over a million rubles. The family simply doesn’t have that kind of money. Our team is helping many people, but this is not something we could handle. All that time we’ve searched for other options. And Ira is simply our angel.
Only a surgery can save him.
The worst part is that he could die during the operation. Anyone who’s ever had to deal with an aneurysm knows that. It’s a game of chance where no surgeon will guarantee success. But it’s a chance which otherwise wouldn’t exist.
Moreover, he recently experienced another problem.
On May 9 he lost consciousness while his daughter was watching. The aneurysm did not burst but grew by 50%.
He is in extreme pain. He was hospitalized, didn’t eat anything for a week. Received a morphine IV.
And then these news.
I can’t tell what how big a miracle this is.
I don’t know what an aneurysm is.
They say it’s something terrible, particularly when it affects blood vessels in the head.
Imagine everything going well–you are working, have two daughters, a loving wife. And then, one day, the life changes in a single moment.
Loss of consciousness–ambulance–regional neurosurgery. “Sack aneurysm of the right ICA communicative segment, irregular shape, partial thrombosis.”
Doctors will understand. Non-doctors will understand something really bad happened in the head.
And most awfully, Aleksey’s life is now hanging by a thread. He may die at any moment.
“The family was explained the diagnoses, possible risks, complications, and consequences…up to and including death”.
That’s what the medical history says.
Aleksey and his younger daughter
Please meet Rodion from Lugansk.
This attractive little kid has been death since birth.
He’ll turn 3 in November, and there’s still a chance to restore his hearing by then. I’m not a doctor and I can’t tell whether it would be a partial or full restoration, but I do know that if one does a cochlear implant (I don’t know what that is) by that time, the implant will be successful. After that there will be problems.
But this post is not about collecting money for the boy’s operation.
I will say that when we met the family, the mother found a hospital in St. Petersburg which undertook to treat him. Naturally for serious money, a million and a half rubles. There was a foundation which gave a preliminary approval. But it required some kind of a special preliminary examination, also expensive, and at the same hospital. We, to be honest, didn’t want to risk. We planned to keep collecting money, even though we had doubts.
But, thank God, we were saved by Irina Bednova. That very same wife of the legendary commander Bednov. She helped us set the whole thing up in Moscow! For free!
It seems the hospitalization will happen already in April.
Ira is an amazing human being, I will never get tired of repeating that and adorhign her. And yes, it’s not the first time she’s saved one of our people. For example, Vika and Sergey Balanov, a cardiologist stricken with cancer, got treatment thanks to her.
But here’s the story.
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.
–Ira told me that there are people who help terminal cancer patients without any compensation. She gave me your number. I tried to take care of it myself but wasn’t able to.
We are in shock–Ira, our Ira, died in the Spring. This young and lovely girl with two small children passed away after a long struggle with cancer. We tried to help her in every way we could. But we did not succeed. We provided nearly everything she needed, including chemo preparations, but the cancer was stronger. Or maybe it was simply the war, which leaves people like Ira no chance of survival.
Overcoming such a disease under such stress…I know that if it weren’t for the war, Ira would have lived. I sense that. Only those who were in Lugansk understand what they lived through during the spring and summer of ’14. In the city that was being destroyed from all manner of weapons, including aircraft. I saw similar things in the besieged Pervomaysk in December 2014, and even though I was there only for a short time, I still haven’t gotten over it. But they lived there for months on end…
(To read more about Ira, click on the “Ira” tag at the end of the post)
The woman who called us is Sveta. She’s from Lugansk region, but lives in the Ukraine-occupied part. Not LPR. Her stepfather has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and a cyst on a kidney. He was throwing up for three days, and then he was told in the Lisichansk hospital he needs surgery, but there are neither medications nor surgeons available. He was advised to go to Lugansk, LPR. It as a program of “free assistance to compatriots”. Keep in mind, this program has existed for a long time, it treats EVERYONE who has a Ukrainian passport. FOR FREE. Yes, they lack certain types of preparations, instruments, but it’s FREE, and for many it’s salvation and the last chance. Therefore the Lugansk hospital’s cancer ward has a long waiting list.
It’s difficult to write a post based on someone else’s words. It’s important for me to look the person in the eye. But one sometimes has to write on the basis of what Zhenya or Lena wrote about people whom I haven’t seen. Therefore sometimes these posts turn out to be lean. But now I’m reading what Zhenya wrote about Petya and Ira, about whom I write in early February. And I don’t know what to write now. There are only Zhenya’s words, which I’ll cite. He’s never said that about anybody:
“Their love fro one another is unbelievably strong. It shines bright and strong. They know how fragile everything is, and how happy and fortunate they are to be together. They have deserved this happiness. More than anyone else. I don’t even know how to express this. It’s the small things, one can see it in the details, how they worry about one another, they are almost blowing dust motes off one another. And not for show, either. They still can’t believe their luck to be with one another. If anyone wants to confirm such love exists, they just have to cast a glance at this family. They are LIKE THAT… They are a source of light. It can’t be expressed in words. People who went through real hell and did not lose the ability to stay happy, and they are happy earnestly and at the smallest things. One gets a sense they are making up for lost life…”
Petya and Ira.
As you know, Zhenya’s Fiat Ducato suffered an engine breakdown before New Year. There was hope it could be fixed, but it turns out it’s less expensive to buy an engine–obviously a used one. A new one is out of the question.
All this time we’ve been keeping an eye on engines in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. We’ve encountered a mass of problems. Naturally, it wasn’t me who was keeping an eye, but my friends who know what’s what.
Thanks to everyone who wrote and offered solutions. We looked at every option. Zhenya hung out on forums for days. Trust me, he understands these matters.
But all the options are limited by the fact it’s impossible to bring an engine to LPR is out of the question.
This is Natasha and her grandmother. They live alone because on August 3 of the bloody 2014 their garden was hit by a shell. The house survived though the blast shattered all the windows, but a single piece of shrapnel flew in. Just a single piece of shrapnel. That was enough to kill Natasha’s mom right in front of her. The shrapnel pierced her head.
Natasha did not say anything for a week, and it was a miracle she resumed talking later. She stuttered for a year. Her grandma really aged in that instant. She’s only 70, and at the time, 3 years ago, she looked different.
I began helping the Donbass in 2014, when I and my friends, thanks to you, my readers and online contacts, brought lots of food to Pervomaysk in a big truck. In 2014, the city was in a catastrophic condition, and it literally suffered from hunger. It was cut off from the rest of LPR and found itself in a humanitarian blockade, where even OSCE wouldn’t go. People lived in cellars and bomb shelters, shops were closed, and there was nothing to eat. Only communal cafeterias worked, which fed people for free. We kept returning until the summer of ’15, about once every three weeks, with food for these cafeterias. Then the situation improved, the cafeterias were closed, so we stopped our visits. Although in my view such cafeterias are still needed nearly everywhere in the LPR. For the needy. There are many single elderly, multi-child families, and simply needy individuals who are trying to ends meet and suffer from poor nutrition.
But that’s not what this post is about.
It’s about how we started with delivering food for lots of people. I never imagined I’d become an aid coordinating center of sorts.
I couldn’t wrap my head around it even during our first visit in a car loaded with food and clothes. I felt this was a one-time action, but people continued to turn to me and that’s how it came to be. The Little Hirosima blog helped, even though I created it for something entirely different. With time, our aid became targeted–we help those who are in poor straits, who can’t cope on their own.