Memoirs of combatant who has lost his limbs

Author : Anastasiya Olekhnovych

17:35, 9 September 2015

Memoirs of combatant who has lost his limbs

Author : Anastasiya Olekhnovych

Sanitarian Vadim survived after mine explosion while transporting the injured from Debaltseve

17:35, 9 September 2015

Having lost his legs and arms, sanitarian Vadim can give odds to everyone in his willingness to live. He prepares to meet his pregnant wife from maternity hospital and does his best to take his child into hands. The man will never forget the longest three days of his life – without food, water, or any help, in 20 degree frost. The sanitarian has blown on mine transporting the injured people to hospital from the hell of Debaltseve. He ate snow, looked for food, moved, and tried to forget about death. He was found by the militants. Captivity, exchange, and amputation of all limbs came after. However, his life has not stopped with it. 

Debaltseve survival

Now, 42-years old Kyivan actively passes his course of rehabilitation, trains every day, and gets accustomed to his new prostheses. Vadim is not self-supporting yet, but actively moves to become independent. He strictly intends not to be a burden to anybody.

“I was waiting for prostheses as for the best gift in my life”, Vadim tells. “Morally it is extremely hard to reconcile with the limbs loss. The first, what the injured person wants, is to be shot. You don’t want your relatives to see you in such a condition. For a pity, Ukrainian army lacks of qualified psychotherapists, who could help in overcoming this stress. Was I in despair? Of course. But I was sure I will walk. I am going to become a father, so I haven’t any right to give up. My wife and children must be confident in me.”

Several days after amputation, Vadim was coming to life. Mostly he kept silence and was reluctant to see anyone. From falling into despair he was saved by his wife and friends. They succeeded to find the right words, needed for a warrior - not consolation, but confidence that the life goes on.

“I am very grateful to doctor Vyacheslav Nazarenko, who managed to make operation in appropriate way. There was no need in other medical actions. I have received “legs” due to the state funding, and “hands” have been presented by the Ukrainians living in Spain. You can’t even imagine how I wish not to be a burden for my wife. I am ready to master any device.”

Vadim not only walks on his prostheses, he dances on it, moves sideways and twists the knees. He still is to learn going up- and downstairs. But with his perseverance, no one doubts that he succeeds this too.

“I feel myself a sportsman, because I train several times every day. I begin my morning with exercises. I need my back and muscles to bear the body straight. I have been doing sport during whole my life, but after my loss I could scarcely move. This is my own frontline.”

The man jokes that the main problem is that he has become taller than before. Before tragedy, he was 8 cm lower than now.

“The prosthesists promise, it can be corrected. I will change it with time, when my legs become slimmer because of walking. The next prostheses, I hope, will be more functional. I want to be full-value human, want to work and help my relatives. I do appreciate the human life now!”

The man wasn’t looking to become a volunteer, but he wasn’t trying to hide from the war. Vadim decided to go if he was mobilized.

“I am from Kyiv. By first education, I am medical assistant, by second – an economist. In army, I have served in the border guard as a medic. Last ten years I was working as an advertiser. Last year, on August 4, they called me and asked whether I am really a medic. “We need you,” they said, and I came. By the end of August I was on the frontline. Had been to Shchastya, Stanytsya Luhanska, Debaltseve, Chornuhyne…”

While being in the ATO zone, Vadim has saved both Ukrainian soldiers and civil people. He recalls different incidents: contusion, explosions, handling with complex wounds.

In the middle of February, the man got shrapnel wound near Debaltseve. Vadim and other injured were to be transported to Artemivsk at night. The vehicle, where he had been, legged behind the convoy and got lost.

“I have heard shoots, and we trapped to the mine. I was contused. Luckily, my commander pushed me out of car and jumped himself. Otherwise I would have burnt. There was total chaos, shooting, and the commander said that we were on militants’ territory. It was a deep night, and mines surounded us. We decided to wait for a help. After the next mine explosion I was contused again. We couldn’t move anymore.”

The man recalls a lot of guys groaned in pain, all around were scattered with bodies of wounded and dead... But he could not help anyone. Once he tried to get up, he fell down to his knees and lost consciousness. Besides, he lacked his medical pack as well.

“I spent the night barely conscious. When recovered in the morning, I realized that I cannot hear groans. All were frozen to death. So was my commander. I tried to walk but fell down. I understood that it was running out for me. And, what is interesting, I was not thinking about death. I realized that I must survive at any cost.”

Almost four days the man spent on the terrible frost - the weather in those days was particularly severe. The rebels came across Vadim. When they saw the “paramedic” note in his military ID, they agreed to return Vadim to Ukrainian military. Unfortunately, the long-lasting stay in freezing temperatures left drastic consequences. The body tissues had already necrotized.

The man did not even remember how many surgeries he had to pass through. Unbearable pain, strong anesthesia, resuscitation, ordinary hospital wards. Drug treatment has been finished a while ago. However, as the main secret of returning to life, Vadim regards his wife`s love, together with devotion and faithfulness of his friends and colleagues.

“I am constantly in touch with fighters of brigade, in which I served. Such relationships stay close for the whole life. They're all heroes to me. My wife and the thought that soon I will become a father for the second time help not to fall into depression. Life goes on!”

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