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Stories that you confided to us

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Valentyna Viktorivna Fesun

"I looked up and saw a black cloud coming at me"

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I have lived in the village all the time. In December 2014, my husband Oleksandr was diagnosed with left lung cancer. We planned to go to Kharkiv in January to consult a surgeon. But on 22 January 2015, armed hostilities began.

There was no light, water or gas in the village. Houses and apartments were dark and cold. Those who remained cooked food over a campfire. Many of the neighbors left. Some went down to the basement. My husband and I were in the apartment, sleeping in our be-ready clothes.

When the attacks started, we went out into the common corridor. At nights we slept on the floor in the corridor. We often sat up late with candles in the hallway at the entrance. Once we had to go down to the basement, my husband said, "I won't go down to the basement anymore. I'll stay in the apartment."

"The village seems to have died out"

Once, when I was boiling water in a teapot over a fire, I heard that people were applying for humanitarian assistance. Several times I was going to go. On 11 February 2015, I decided to apply too. The attack didn't stop, so the husband did not let me go. I said I'd be at the entrance, that I would not go anywhere. A little time passed, I went when the shooting sounds subsided. There is almost no one on the streets. The village seems to have died out. It was so creepy.

A black cloud was moving toward me

I was dressed warmly and had a hood on, so I didn't hear anything. When I passed the Shanson Store and came on the road between the store and Youth Hostel, I turned my head to the right and saw a black cloud moving towards me. It seemed to be made of a lot of golden sparks. I thought that was it. I would die there. Raising my left hand, I said, "What about my Sasha?"

Immediately I felt something hot, and blood gushed into my sleeve. I was bleeding and couldn't see anything out of fear. I squeezed my hand and started shouting raising my other hand, "Call an ambulance, call an ambulance!" But the street was empty, and a woman was shouting in the distance, "The ambulance is not responding!"

There were a man and a woman on the other side of the street. The man sat down on the ground, and the woman shouted something. I ran to the recreation center past them and saw that the man was injured.

First aid

Running to the recreation center, I was surrounded by people. Many residents of the village were in a bomb shelter of the Community Center. The police officer tore off a piece of blanket and bandaged me, hoping that an ambulance would arrive soon. I left the Community Center, accompanied by someone. I saw military men and television.

The military drove a little to the corner of the house on Radianska Street to the man who was lying on the ground. I followed, crying in frustration and helplessness.

One of the soldiers took a dressing bag and bandaged my arm, trying to calm me down.

After a while, a military ambulance arrived. A nurse gave me an injection and helped the man lying on the ground. The mayor also arrived. The military said they were taking us to Artemivsk. I was paralysed with fear. I did not understand where they were taking us, since the shooting hadn't stopped yet.

The radiologist didn't see the fragment

In the hospital, we finally had an X-ray. I didn't have a fragment, but the man had a fragment stuck in his body. I waited in the hallway for the doctor to look at my hand and put stitches on the border of the hand. He said, "The woman with the injured hand, stand back. They are about to bring the wounded."

I was walking down the corridor, someone offered to drink and eat, but I didn't want anything. I just wanted to go home faster, because my husband didn't know that I went to the Community Center and that I was injured.

I found a dressing room. Two nurses treated my wound and bandaged my hand. I told them that I was going to the first floor to wait for an ambulance to get me home, where my cancer-stricken husband was waiting for me. One of the nurses said, "Don't leave until you get a certificate." So I went to see the doctor. A few minutes later, she handed me the certificate in the hallway.

I went to the first floor and together with the volunteers I waited for an ambulance that was to drive to Myronivskiy.

Late in the evening, the ambulance arrived, brought new injured people to the hospital, and then took me back to the village.

I was terrified, because it was night already. They dropped me off in the market square in the dark. I groped my way home, since the electricity in the village was cut off. In the dark, I opened the door and said to my husband, "I'm not going anywhere else."

 

The fragment in the border of the hand came out

A couple of days later, sitting in a chair at home, I touched my sleeve of sweater. We slept dressed, so I didn't think that I could feel something in my sleeve. I don't know how much blood poured there. Thinking it was dried blood, I found a piece of glass that had burned two holes in the sleeve of my sweater. It passed through the palm of the left hand and came out on the edge of the palm.

Now the wounds have healed. However,  the little finger and the next finger became numb. I can squeeze my fist, but not much. I know that the tendon has been hurt. The middle of the palm was rock-hard. When the light was restored, I bought medicines and went to the physiotherapeutic room. The density on the palm of my hand resolved.

My husband died two months after I was injured

I had to give him the injections myself. I went to Artemivsk  to get Dimedrol and Analgin, at least. There were no other medicines that were prescribed to him. My husband died on 10 April  2015 — two months after I was injured.

I am still terrified. Even New Year's fireworks "hammer" me into a corner. Whenever I heard that whistle... I saw a psychologist if possible. Currently, when I hear that someone is shooting somewhere, I immediately go into the room, quitting everything I do. I think this fear will stay with me for the rest of my life.

When quoting a story, a reference to the source – the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation – is mandatory, as follows:

The Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation https://civilvoicesmuseum.org/

Rinat Akhmetov Foundation Civilian Voices Museum
Myronivskyi 2015 Text Civilian's stories
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