16 September 2012

A Broken Post in Russia


I was at my computer when my daughter-in-law ran by, telling me over her shoulder ‘Лариса упала!’... Larissa has fallen!  I found her placed on the swing seat.

Larissa had decided to lie on the hammock, an unusual posture for someone so active outdoors.  On first sitting down, one of the two posts broke and fell across her foot as the hammock hit the ground.  Thus started a series of events that illustrates life in present day Russia.

Russians are often blind to safety considerations.  The overall feeling is that if you worry about something happening it is more likely to come about.  Another aspect of frequent superstitious thinking is the belief in sud’ba, or fate. 1 

1 Please click on the red words to the right to read  a previous post, 'It would be her sud'ba'

Last year we had an Uzbek worker replace a broken hammock post that nearly hit the daughter-in-law.  I insisted that he first gather rocks at the lake edge in our wheelbarrow and trudge uphill to our house.  He excavated the rotted post, dug deep and lined the bottom with rocks, and then filled in the sides with smaller rocks with dirt and sand.  As an added measure against rotting, since we didn’t have creosote, he first tacked tar paper around the sides.

Then I suggested we replace the other post that had not broken.  I got a negative look from the worker, and Larissa said it wasn’t necessary.  She is sometimes tired of my American caution, so I let the idea drop.

A heavy post accumulates momentum as it falls and the resulting smack was damaging and painful.  We called Larissa’s cousin, a doctor at the hospital in Peno.  Russians can call for a doctor and ambulance with no worry about any charge. 

That evening the 03 ambulance traveled an hour each way to take Larissa to the hospital.  They took an X-ray that night and then 03 took Larissa to her cousin’s home to spend the night.

That next morning the orthopedic doctor looked at the X-ray but it was unreadable... my guess is because of old equipment and bad film.  He fashioned a removable cast and wrapped the leg in two layers of wide gauze tape.  He was intrigued with Larissa’s Scottish last name.

He said to return if there were problems, but wasn’t clear as to how to proceed and gave her no written instructions, and took few notes on her record.  Larissa had our taxi driver help her in the car and take her back to Zaloz’e.

I like to clearly understand a problem and know what the next best step would be.  With no readable X-ray or clear diagnosis I worried that this severe bruising and possible break would not heal as it should.  We decided to get back to St Petersburg sooner rather than later, which meant taking the train on 28 August.

This summer we had some sun, but more rain, clouds, and cold.  There was only about a week of swimming days.  Our firewood supply went down quickly to keep us warm at night and in the early mornings. 

We had time to rest and then get ready to leave.  We were fortunate that another cousin, Fedor, was in the village and helped a lot with heavy things.  Also Pavel, a son-in-law of the people across the way, brought us several large office jugs of water, so we didn’t have to lug drinking water from the well for the last few weeks of our stay.

I did the shopping at the autolavkas, the truck stores, and asked people to visit Larissa at home.  Once feeling welcome, many people stopped by for long chats.  They brought presents of melons, tomatoes, and a box of chocolates.

On our way to the train in Ostashkov we spotted Olonka, our cousin, walking to the hospital in Peno.  We stopped to say goodbye, thanking her for kindness and professional help.  She looked pretty and fashionable, a contrast to the rough appearance of the town.  She wanted to send us home with some jars of varenia, berry jam, regretting she didn’t know she’d see us or she

Picasa Content
would have had them there to give us.

We met Eddic, our son-in-law, waiting for our train at Moskovsky Vakzal, in St Petersburg around 830 that night.  He lugged much of our luggage while I pulled some, while Larissa swung along on crutches.  I looked for a loner wheelchair but there is no such thing in St Petersburg.

We were especially happy to be back to the city this year, as we had expectations that here we could get a good diagnosis and top quality treatment for Larissa’s damaged foot

Please write a comment or send an email using the Wibiya strip below. Comments and notes are much appreciated!  My thank you to my observant readers.


  1. Rob, I hope that she is doing well and healing. Please give up a follow-up report.

  2. What an unfortunate premature end to your summer. I do hope it heals soon with no after effects. And now maybe the family will listen to your health and safety concerns.

  3. Thank you, Rob!

    Russians often think that voicing safety concerns is like a magnet for bad luck. It's circular thinking that just makes things more risky!


    Rob Innis is the author of Spain Exposed and a fellow blogger.


Comments, Questions, Ideas