One day I heard the neighbors’ voices and started screaming. They pulled me out, washed me and fed me. Then a paramedic came by, looked at my leg and said that I needed a doctor. By that time, the hospital had already been bombed. But one surgeon remained. The neighbors put me in a car and under a bombing, brought me to the doctor. His name is Yury Yevgenyevych Kuznetsov. He and a nurse put in stitches with no anesthesia. I remember them screaming, don’t even think about fainting, we have nothing to resuscitate you with. Anyway, they patched me up and put me in the hospital basement. But I was lucky, they still had a lot of medications and dressing materials. They gave me IVs, dressed the wounds, and I spent 25 days in the basement. I don’t know how I got the strength to endure it all.
They threatened to shoot the only remaining doctor in the legs
There were a lot of people with shrapnel wounds and fractures. Then there were lung issues since people lived in basements, and strokes in old people. Someone tried to push money to a woman doctor, but she wouldn’t take it: “It`s not looters who work here, but decent people”. The head of the lab was a Jewish woman, 82 years old, who had survived the Holocaust. She did basic blood and urine tests, the ones that could be done practically without reagents. We used to live in the same apartment complex, so she knew me. One day she brought me a jar of jam. I asked, ”Why, Eleonora Danilovna? “No, Irochka, this is for you.”
I started a crossword-solving club in the basement. First there were three of us, then five, then eight people would come and set up chairs. They bombed us, but we had our own life. It was a distraction: it’s scary when the walls are shaking, and plaster is pouring over you. I was on crutches, and at least could crawl somewhere, but some people were completely unable to move. There was a young man there, Vlad, he had a pelvic fracture, a broken arm, and a broken leg. A wall fell: his dad was killed, but he survived. Their house was bombed; there are about eight rocket “tails” sticking out in the garden. His wife was taking care of him. I keep trying to call them but haven’t been able to reach them so far… (later Vlad and Anya made it to Poland through Russia. Now they are in Lviv, where Vlad is being treated – ed.).
By then the city was occupied by Russians. They entered at the end of March. They didn’t really bother people. And then they were replaced with people from Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as well as Kadyrovtsy. The Chechens didn’t go into the hospital, but the soldiers from the Donetsk People’s Republic were a nightmare. They told the only remaining doctor: we are going to shoot you in the legs and see what kind of doctor you are. I was lying in my bed, and one of them came over with a machine gun, his hand on the trigger, and lifted the blanket. He poked my leg, which was in a cast. I thought, oh my god, he’s going to shoot. They proposed to take me to Russia, to Belgorod. The doctor told them, this patient cannot be moved. He specially scared them off.
So the Russians left, and this lot remained: checkpoints every 50 meters, dressed like homeless people, helmets from WWII. One was wearing sneakers, the next - sandals. A collection of thieves and a gang of beggars.