Katya, Kharkiv

My name is Katya, I live and work in Kharkiv. I’m a doctor. Today is the 51st day, how am I at work. This is the longest shift in my entire life. On February 24, my daughter ran to my husband and me in the bedroom and started screaming, that they are shooting. We waved it off, decided that they were blowing up firecrackers. Later , my mother called, she lives in Chuguev — they were shelled there in the first place. Chuguev was burning.

I finally forced myself to pack a backpack

At 7 a.m., realizing that it was a war, we collected documents, money, and a dog. A daughter with our whole life, fit into a small box, went to her friend’s private sector. It was too scary to stay on the 11th floor. We didn’t go grocery shopping, withdraw money or refuel the car. My husband and I got dressed and
went to our jobs.

I packed my things for the first time, knowing full well that I would have to live at work. For almost two years of working in covid, this is a familiar scenario. Many colleagues decided to leave and take out the children, it was too scary to stay.

For all the time I was at home three times during the war, and the second time I came under fire and bombs. It’s creepy, I stood and watched my house and my whole life being destroyed by TNT and someone’s very sick fantasy about the Nazis in my country. When my husband came under a terrible rocket attack at work, he trembled for a long time hands and voice. I still can’t forget it.

At our hospital there is a bomb shelter, so almost on the first day of the war , our families with animals, employees moved to the hospital, people moved from dangerous areas. And there were relatively fewer shots fired here. It’s scary in Kharkiv, but at work and taking care of patients, when you need to equip
a basement, find food, organize dinner and breakfast for refugees (so we are them we call it), there is no time to think that there is a war around. There is no right and opportunity to be weak. There is no time to be afraid and cry.

On the 3rd-4th day of the war, we received a call from our former patients who happened to be at that moment closer than anyone, and asked how we could be helped. It was they who, in a terribly shelled city, began to help us with food, water, medicines, take out our employees and provide us with everything necessary. We began to help them with what we could, sorted medicines and medical supplies for other hospitals, packed first aid kits and consulted
all those who needed medical care.

When the Russian troops began to pull more and more to the east, it became clear that there was no way out, the families had to be taken out. In the case of the wildest scenario of the war in Kharkov, it is always easier to leave alone. Our families and loved ones have left for other cities. On the 43rd day of the war, I, my head (he is my close friend from the 1st year of university), one nurse, one nurse – and patients were left for the entire department. The feeling that I was orphaned does not go away until now. But the imaginary safety of my family gives hope that everything will be fine. I never persuaded my mother to leave Chuguev.

I am every the day is now saying thank you! Thank you to life that I am today. Thank you for those friends, for the people I love, for the profession that I have. Thank you that so many people have given me an incredible amount of love, warmth, kindness and care over these 50 days.

More and more often I get messages from friends that they are not at home, that they are no longer here either. I do not know what will happen tomorrow and whether we have today. There is only grief, a huge human grief around us all and pain that makes it difficult to breathe. It seems to me that if there is hell, it is here now: in Mariupol, Buche, Kharkiv, Izyum, Gostomel and all over Ukraine. Hell is for those who left and those who stayed. Our personal hell.

I finally forced myself to pack a backpack


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Nastya Krasilnikova

Nastya Krasilnikova’s channel about women and their rights.

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