When you cross the threshold of a psycho-neurological boarding school, your nose hits … no, not the stink, but the human smell – a thick mixture of urine, feces and an unwashed body. You get used to it in a few minutes. It takes the same amount of time for your clothes, things, skin and hair to absorb it.
At first you are afraid to touch everything, from somewhere there appears a squeamishness that you didn’t notice for yourself before, everything causes incomprehensible irritation and disgust – how can you live here, how can you breathe this air, how can you get used to all this. Afraid to touch the doorknob, walls, things, bed. But this quickly passes, and a person who has lived here all his life comes to the fore.
Arrival of someone else, new to the boarding school always arouses interest and animation among the wards. In the first minute, everyone is looking at you – what kind of hairstyle do you have, glasses, what are you wearing, what kind of watch do you have on your hand and what kind of incomprehensible shiny camera is it that literally attracts everyone’s views. And very soon they begin to touch you, take you tightly by the sleeve and begin to pull you into your room, everyone wants to take you to their corner and talk about something.
Only one on one. You feel like a toy that they dreamed about for a very long time. For them, you are like a person from another world. Apparently, in reality it is so. It’s almost a holiday, because every day here is similar to the previous one and the lack of news is almost unbearable.
I enter the ward on the 4th floor and, with my arrival, intrude into the regular life of the patients in this room, they all look at me, someone rises on beds. A man caught my attention – he was lying and did not react in any way. It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized why. Approaching him, I smelled a sharp smell of rotten flesh. He walked around the bed and saw that an elderly man was lying unconscious on him, his head was wrapped in a sheet, his mouth was half open, his eyes were sunken, and his skin had become a cadaverous yellow color. Instead of an ear, there is a large red tumor, from which blood oozes and runs down the face and closed eyes in baked streaks. A person is no longer aware of himself through unbearable pain.
While the director is absent, wards sit down to me.
– This is grandfather Vasyl. He’s been here for a long time, dying. He no longer screams, and when he did, we all couldn’t sleep here at night. His moans were simply unbearable. He does not have relatives, no one comes to him. That wound that stinks is a tumor. He has cancer.
The director bursts into the room with nurses, who tries to cover his anger with a forced apologetic smile. And immediately draws attention to the honey, which is on the bedside table of patients.
– We have our own apiary here. All wards have their own honey…
– Give me the medical card of this patient, – we interrupted him.
A person in the 4th stage of cancer, but has not been examined by a doctor for a long time, is not registered in the oncologic dispensary. Instead of morphine, he is given ordinary analgin every evening, which does not alleviate his suffering in the least. At this stage of cancer, a person without morphine is not just suffering, her pain threshold has long been passed, he falls into an unconscious state and is delirious.
To the obvious question why the ward was not admitted to the oncology dispensary, the director tries to say something, but does not find any excuse, the orderlies do not know where to put their eyes, and hide one after another.
– You understand, – the director justifies himself, – we have 40 heads of cows and 90 heads of pigs, our own machines, large lands! I physically can’t look after everyone…
The classical situation, as for the heritage of Soviet psychiatry, is the director of the psycho-neurological boarding school – a strong collective farmer. His greatest pride and subject of concern are cows and pigs. They are well-fed, look out of the stall rather, chew hay and seem to look better than the residents of the boarding school. Actually, all the best here is for livestock. In cowsheds – plastic windows and flowers in flowerpots. Just imagine – even the schedule of the wards is adjusted to the cows: breakfast was postponed from 8 to 6 am, because the animals need to be fed.
Walking patients for the director are not wards that he must take care of, but a potential workforce that it would be sinful not to use.
One of the wards, a hunched short man in rags, takes my elbow and tries to take me aside. He looks around, but decides to say: “They wake us up here at 6 a.m. and make us go with the nurses to work in the field for the whole day, mess around with the cattle, row hay for the cows. We are in the sun all day. We arrive at 8 p.m. And if we refuse and do not leave, the director blackmails us and does not issue a pension. Or they don’t eat. We are already working together with the nurses, helping. It’s hard for us here. Not all of us can work, there are many elderly people. For example, I have inflamed joints, my back hurts, but I have to walk because my pension will be taken away. Can you talk to someone, help us? Just don’t say that I told you. Because I will be sad. Help us”.
The director calls the cultivation of his own 40 hectares of land and the care of livestock the occupational therapy. Despite the fact that half of the wards are incompetent. But in fact, the true name for this is labor slavery.
Wards are slaves of pigs
He tries in every possible way to maintain the illusion of caring for those whose only home forever is this boarding school. But the life of people in such boarding schools, which are headed by inveterate business executives, means absolutely nothing compared to the comfort and growth of cows and pigs.