Did he look at himself in the mirror?
“No. He still tried to make jokes - he would say: ‘Now that I’m bald, do I look like Buddha?’ Or: ‘This bacterium of mine was wearing uniform.’ He kept apologizing to the nurses for having to have his clothes changed constantly. He would say [in English]: ‘I am sorry’, ‘Excuse me’… That wasn’t like him - moody, short-tempered. I would tell him: “Sasha, there’s no need to say sorry, in this condition you don’t have to apologize for anything.’ I kept asking them at the hospital: ‘Do you really have enough resources here to treat my husband? Are you sure that you know everything?’ And when on the Thursday they discovered a toxin in his blood, they also gave him tests for external radiation, which showed nothing… They made some tests for toxins, and in the evening they came and said: ‘We’ve discovered thallium, and have prescribed an antidote.’ We were even relieved - thank God, at last they’ve found out why it’s happening, the cause is clear, now Sasha will get well again. And he himself constantly lived with that faith.
“After the thallium was discovered they decided to move him to another hospital, and it was also from that point on that the police were called in. Until then we’d been able to say what we liked and ask as many questions as we wanted, but no one would listen to us. In the new hospital, in the haematological department there, he began to give evidence to the police right from the very first day. Those policemen really admired him a lot for giving evidence in that condition. Though he was kept on an anaesthetic all the time, I don’t know how he endured it. They explained to me later that the irritation he had in his throat was also inside him: his bowels, his oesophagus, his stomach were all covered in these ulcers (cries).
“When this antidote was prescribed for him, it was brought in the form of a powder. But it wasn’t completely dissolved, there were these sharp little crystals, and it was so painful for him… And when he was giving evidence for 3-4 hours at a time, I even asked them not to let them in when he fell asleep, so he would at least get a little rest. On the Monday, this was in the last week, they moved him from the haematological department to the resuscitation room. When he’s been brought to this hospital, he’d still been able to get up, he could even walk a bit, arrange his bed the way he liked it, take a shower, fix the tap - but when he was taken to the third floor and hooked up to all those tubes… I didn’t think it was the end, but I realized it wasn’t good.”
There were thoughts that it might be fatal?
“On the very last day. I chased that thought away as best I could. But that day it stabbed me unawares. I suddenly thought: ‘But I won’t be able to live without him.’ And immediately silenced myself: ‘Why are you thinking about yourself - Sasha, who is suffering so badly, is fighting to the last, how can you think those thoughts?’ But no one knew what it was. He was never actually ill, and there was the help of British doctors, it seemed that the situation was under control… Yes, it was hard, but we were sure he’d be able to pull through. We even said, fine, even if there are some problems with his health later on, we’ll manage. They were discussing giving him a bone marrow transplant, as they said it might be necessary, and were already talking about making analyses, starting to select a donor - in other words, no one thought he was doomed. Since he didn’t have any brothers, they were saying that perhaps his father and mother would come, so that analyses could be taken from them. In other words, all the talk was about that he was going to live, and that all that had to be done was to help him. When the day before his death, the 22nd, he had a cardiac arrest during the night, the first thing they said to me was: ‘This is not very good, as it will be very hard to carry out a transplant in this condition.’”
(to be continued)
See also: Conversation
Conversation - II
Conversation - III
Conversation - IV
Conversation - V
Conversation - VI
Conversation - VII
Conversation - VIII
Conversation - IX
Conversation - X