Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Hello Everyone!

December just flew by!  Lots of interesting adventures this month!

At the beginning of the month, I went to visit one of the “better” rehabilitation hospitals, which is located in Donetsk, a three-hour drive by car.



3.  I AM VERY GRATEFUL (as difficult and convoluted as it is) for our Health care and our hospitals!

My organization had arranged a seminar with the hospital administration and Donetsk administration officials to discuss spinal cord injuries and therapy.  I was asked to give a presentation on what we in the US do for spinal cord injuries.   Considering I am not a doctor, I had no clue what to present or where to look for information. Thanks goodness for Google Research, the NCI web sites, AND the Christopher and Dana Reeve  I managed to put together a few slides with a few statistics on Spinal cord injuries in the US and then a few slides on ways to prevent spinal cord injuries -- like enforcing seat belt laws, regular enforcement of work safety programs, enforcing the drunk driving laws, and enforcing the no talking on cell phones while driving.  Sadly, I never gave my presentation… BUT  I am ready for the next seminar on spinal cord injuries which will be in March 2012. 

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The entrance to the hospital… not very welcoming!   The parking area at the entrance. 

Notice the Open manhole cover.  Our vehicle is the white one and had I not been looking when I got out of the car, I would have fallen in the manhole!  

What a way to get patients for the hospital!!!

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The photos are of the two elevators- which have lift operators that sit in the elevator, with a little table, a chair and lots of decorations.

On the right, the signage on the elevator door lets one know that the lift operator takes a break every day from 2 to 2:30 p.m.


Every floor has a common toilet… rooms have six beds and no toilet facilities.

Note that there IS NO TOILET PAPER—you bring your own!  AND there are no handle bars / gripping bars!

After this rather dismal start, life perked up quickly!!  I had a birthday…. “now that I am 64…..”and I celebrated in Kiev with Friends and then in Luhansk with Friends!

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And the best December adventure yet…. My good friend, Kyle (a PCV from Wisconsin and a great tennis player), and I played tennis at the local club. 

It was the best $25 I have spent in a long time.

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My organization began celebrating the holidays on Dec. 19 with a Concert and Festival in honor of St. Nicholas.  My young disabled friends all participated in song, dance, or poetry recitals.  Plus several local entertainers were part of the celebration: the young gal on the trapeze was terrific!!

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The young children from the orphanage performed.  The young gymnast was spectacular!

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The balancing act was quite something.  My young friend Maxim, who won the overall prize in the November Festival, was back to sing a holiday song.

On Tuesday, Dec 20, a wonderful sponsor in Luhansk, gave the disabled children who were in town for the concert,  two fabulous hours of fun at the local “family fun center”.   I was the official “mamarazzi” and I had a blast watching these children play video games, play air hockey, pitch basketballs, driver Ferraris, ride bikes and jump on trampolines.   The facility is on the fourth story of a high rise in the center of town, and the building has a very modern elevator which makes the facility accessible for everyone.

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Riding against Lance Armstrong!   Driving across the USA!

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Having fun as an Indy 500 driver!   Pitching basketballs!

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I don’t know who had more fun--- the caretakers or the children!

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The trampoline was a big hit with every age group!  As were the roly-poly cars!

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Air Hockey was FUN!   Video version of James Bond!

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Having Fun!

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Having more fun!

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Absolutely exhausted…. too much fun!


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And after a morning of fun, I had a creative craft session for two hours…. we made holiday trees using old origami paper, construction paper and white glue.

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And it would not be December without holiday cheer and a visit from Santa or as he is called in Ukraine,  Дед Мороз, (sounds like Ded Moroz ).  This translates to Grandfather Frost.  Grandfather Frost is usually accompanied by his granddaughter, Снегурочка, (sounds like Snegurochka), and translates as the Snow Maiden.  Both deliver presents to children beginning on  Dec. 19, St Nicholas day in Ukraine.   Ukrainians have a  юлка (sounds like yulka) which is a New Year's tree and looks exactly like our Christmas trees.  Ded Moroz resembles Santa Claus, with his coat, boots and long white beard. Снегурочка dresses in a lovely long blue dress, and is usually a very young, very pretty young lady.

On Wednesday, Dec. 21, our disabled children had a visit from Дед Мороз and Снегурочка!     We had another fun festival and again, my role, was “mamarazzi”.

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I am off to London in a few hours (well the 18-hour train ride comes first) to be with my family for the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.

I send all of you the very best wishes for a  wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

On to 2012!

All to best to everyone!