The Soldier and the Doctor: A story from the front lines

Oleh Dynka, call sign "Yeger" 

Ukraine, War in Donbas

Article by: Yan Osoka
Translated by: Jeffrey D. Stephaniuk
Edited by: Christine Chraibi

The pain could be relieved somewhat if he stared at the sky. It would recede deep behind the coping mechanisms of consciousness, gnawing at the spot where the bullet struck. The pain didn’t seem so daunting and consuming if he focused his gaze upon the lazy clouds. He could become nearly oblivious to the hot and sticky liquid flowing from his side.

He looked to the sky: while they carried him on the stretcher, while they ran with him to the ambulance, while he could catch glimpses of little ribbons of blue and white. He looked skyward, coveting within himself what he had left of the warmth of last summer’s suntan, contrasted with the leaves cast about by the wind, the autumn colours of the poplar trees. He longed to retain his memories of summer, to remember, and remember…

He felt the pain once more when they placed him in the ambulance: raging and sharp, biting within and outside his body. Inside the ambulance it was stuffy and tight, with people frantically at work: bandaging the wound, starting an IV, holding his hand, speaking something to him. Their words pushed back the darkness threatening to overwhelm his mind. People’s voices seemed to be echoing from the other side of the earth. They sounded further and further away, but kept repeating the same message: don’t fall asleep, don’t go away, hang on just a little bit longer; voices of reassurance, certain that the ride won’t be much longer, that in no time the surgeons would be taking care of him, and that everything would be just fine.

He made a weak attempt to respond to the voices. Numbness crept slowly around the wound. And from the wound there began to radiate a chill, its tentacles creeping throughout the rest of the body, his muscles, and veins, and thoughts. The sharp pain became dull, pushing him towards a deep fatigue, as if he had just run several kilometres. Meanwhile, the vehicle flew along the road and stopped suddenly in front of the hospital. They carefully removed him from the back, into the building, and raced along the brightly lit corridor towards the operating room.

All this time the voices kept up their sound, calming him down, begging, shouting, crying, promising him that he only needed to endure all this for just a little while longer; they kept telling him that it wouldn’t be long…

Once again he acknowledged the voices. Then, he fell asleep…

Photo gallery of Ukrainian soldiers killed, died or re-buried in September, 2017