The Minasyans: Dialysis and Debts and a Holiday Wish for Health
By Mariam Badalyan
In winter when the evenings are longer and colder, the Minasyans gather around a saucer-sized hand-made heater – the only source for heating in their one-room apartment. In the shabby suburb of Yerevan, the family of four survives, but barely.
They put the heater very close to 14-year old Grigor, who needs heat more than the other members of the family.
Grigor and his 43-year old father, Armen, are both disabled.
Armen was born a disorder that weakens the femoral bones, causing abnormal and awkward movement and making it difficult to stand for extended time. He long ago learned to live with the consequence of his disability. He cannot, however, learn to live with seeing his son suffer. And the suffering is constant.
Grigor has chronic kidney failure. When he was born doctors diagnosed him as having Cerebral Palsy. For eight years he was given medicine for CP which, the family later learned, only worsened his actual ailment.
In September nitrogen levels in his blood reached 1,520. The normal level should not exceed 75. As a result Grigor fell in to a coma. Doctors say it is a miracle he survived. He will need a medical miracle to stay alive, as doctors have discovered that both Grigor’s kidneys have failed.
Three days a week Grigor is taken to Arabkir Medical Center for dialysis. Because he is a minor, there is no charge for the treatment (adults pay $150 a month). But just getting Grigor to the hospital requires more money than the Minasyans have. Unable to use public transport, Grigor is taken by taxi for dialysis. Since September, the parents have been paying about $70 per month in transportation costs. It is twice the amount of the family income. Want to help? HyeSanta suggests sponsoring transportation cost for Grigor’s clinic visits. Cost: $70 per month. Money for medicines would also help. Click here.
Armen’s health is poor, but he worries more about his son
“I don’t’ know how I will pay all my debts,” says Armen Minasyan. “I do not know how long I can borrow money from people.
Hripsime Minasyan has no job, but she has the work of several. She must care for her husband and her son, and provide for the younger child, Artyom, age 12. The family survives on its 18,000 dram pension – about $36.
Hripsime cuts corners where she can. She figures she saves about $10 a month on bread costs, by baking, using one sack of flour. To economize on electricity, they use the lowest wattage light bulbs, and conserve heating by huddling around the little brick unit.
Armen Minasyan’s disease has always caused him to have a pronounced abnormality in his walk. He overcame his childhood inferiority and graduated college with excellent marks and became an expert on marketing books. In the 13 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, he has not had a job. In the upside-down post-Soviet years, who would think of giving work to a crippled man when the healthy were jobless and lost?
Hripsime cares for a sick son and a sick husband
“Before Grigor’s condition worsened, we could somehow cover the costs of medicine for both of us. But now since Grigor needs more care I go mad because of my helplessness,” Armen says frowning his untimely wrinkled forehead. “The thought that I cannot be of even the least help to my child gnaws at my soul…”
Today Grigor’s best friend is Artyom. They play checkers and watch football. They wish for a table-top football game for New Year, but know it is out of reach. Instead, Artyom says he wishes Santa would bring good health.
Despite his disease, Grigor maintains optimism. He says that one day he’ll have a kidney operation and after it, swim in Lake Van and visit his family’s ancestral home in Siunik. But it is a distant hope, while the teenager remains bound to his dialysis lifeline and travels no farther than a hospital.