If you are under forty, then you may not read this text. All the same, you will not be able to understand how it is to wake up in the morning with pain, to live with it each day and to wake up at night from pain. God forbid you to look at the world through a prism of pain! Still, there is so much pain in hospitals, care homes and simple apartments, rural houses closed by doors from the noisy vanity of young life. Yes there is a time for everything — and for healthcare too. However, sometimes a person is lucky even at fifty years old, it seems to this person that he or she knows a secret of eternal ‘pain-free’ youth. Such people will never understand the vital logic of pensioner, Ivan Ignatenko, whom for almost quarter of the century, has successfully fought for health. But with whom does he fight? With his own laziness and with pains in various parts of his body. And if now Ivan Vasilievich says that nothing hurts, then it is not because he is lucky in his long and difficult life with a childhood burnt by war, with orphanhood. Not without a reason people say: the war killed, and crippled, and broke the souls.
He perfectly remembers, how a doctor in the Railway hospital of Minsk said him a severe truth: ‘Ivan Vasilievich if you do not take care of yourself, your radiculitis will lead you to a wheelchair. Or you will lose a foot: it will dry out, and nobody, except you, will help you’. And at that time, Ivan was only at the beginning of pensionable age. To shift the problems on doctors and relatives? No, this is not his vital principle! He is for that everyone bore their own cross, or if without pathos, not to lose heart, not to be a parasite, a whiner, a sponger...
However, to understand his credo of life, it is necessary to glance into the past. Or, as it said, into the root of his generation and character to see how it was formed. We will start with that.
Ivan Vasilievich, were there men of spirit and strong people in your family? Where did your vital firmness come from?
My family tree, of course, is reliable. Grandfather Luka was a strong man and died when he was 95 years old. He lived on Ukrainian Poltavshchina, in Krutki village. My father, Vasily Lukich, was very strong, worked as a digger for long time on road construction. He died when he was 88. Earlier, as it is known, there were no dump trucks, and earth and sand was carried on horses, manually loaded onto carts in open-cast mines. It is possible to consider a gift of destiny that our family in the 30s did not die out in Ukraine because of starvation. At that time, that trouble only slightly touched me — after all, I was born in 1928. I was two years old when we moved to Belarus: we escaped the starvation. And the Belarusian village Nesyata of the Klichev District of the Mogilev Region became home for us. Father worked in those lands. The railway bridge across the river was broken there in the spring, therefore, a bypass road was built there. Father looked around and decided to stay. He wrote us a letter, and we, together with mum, Yefrosiniya Zakharovna moved here. My sisters were born in Belarus, and then twin-brothers who did not survive. It is difficult to survive during wars and public cataclysms.
Did the family have time to grow roots in Belarus before the war?
Yes, though at first we lived in the home of other people. There was a collective farm. In due course, when machinery for construction of roads appeared, my father worked in the collective-farm office as he had four classes of education. Before the war we bought a house and lived there during the occupation. My father was not called to the front, but death was nearby. I remember how the Germans made a blockade, surrounded the village, it seems that it was in 1942. There was a guerrilla zone, the area was considered guerrillas’ territory. At night, we went into the forest, then came back. Once we came and the neighbour ran to us shouting: ‘Vasily, Germans surround the village!’ The potato vine was high, and father said we should go in it.
Nearby was a river and forest, so we lay down and crawled. We wanted to slip past. Only, as we crept out of the potatoes a German appeared and shouted: ‘Hände hoch!’ He took us and led to the school. There were all the inhabitants. Men were placed in one of school buildings. We already knew that the fascists burned down villages together with people. Terrible! A German brought us, ordered to sit, and left us. We decided to mix up with the people: what will happen with all will happen also with us — one fate for all. We saw how the convoy searched for us, asked people about us, but did not find us. The officer came from the neighbouring village, Germans talked about something and then all men were taken out from the building. In brief, they frightened the people and then let them go, having told that it was necessary to help Germany to deliver up the guerrillas. In general, for almost one and a half years before liberation in 1944, there were no Germans in our place because of the guerrilla zone. Guerrillas destroyed two garrisons nearby, and established Soviet power there.
Where were the garrisons?
At a distance of two kilometres from the railway station the fascists were driven out, then they were driven out from Klichev. It is located at a distance of 7 kilometres. The village, by the way, is near the Osipovichi-Mogilev railway, while the highway leads to Bobruisk. I remember a trouble which happened with the family on liberation day. People met the Soviet soldiers, the village was already liberated, and suddenly, Soviet aircraft with incendiary bullets hit the straw roof of the house. Probably, it was mistaken. The house instantly caught fire, the flame blazed. We threw out of the window everything that we could save. During the war, valuables were hidden in the ground. The walls were on fire, when my father, who wanted to get something, ran into the house. The ceiling fell directly before him. He managed to get out with his clothes caught fire. People threw water on him extinguished the flames, but his face got burned. He was taken to the hospital. He was there, while men and guys were taken away to the front. Later, he was employed to work on repairing the railway. So he worked there 18 hours a day — such was the labour front.
Was it also hard for the children?
Certainly, it was very difficult to survive at that time. We starved — that was one thing — but typhus was rife and rampant, and mum was ill. I was at school when she died. She was young, just 45 years old. And just imagine: we lived in a dugout, I was 16 years old, my sisters were 3 and 5 years old and father was at work almost the whole day. All the care was on me: I baked bread, and washed, and cooked, and worked in the kitchen garden. We had a neighbour and her husband died during the Winter War (Finnish war) and she lived alone. My father and she decided to live together. It became easier for us when my stepmother started to live with us. We started a home of our own. By the way, when there was that guerrilla zone, all living creatures in the village were eaten: cows, horses, pigs, sheep, geese, hens — there was nothing left. And it is true that people have to pay for everything in life, but the good thing was that we lived without the fascists! Gradually life improved. I finished school with distinction in 1946 and I entered agricultural technical college to train as an agronomist in Maryina Gorka and then my childhood ended.
Where did you work and on what position?
In 1949, I was directed to the Rossony District of the then Polotsk Region, and six months later, I was taken to the army. I served in the town of Pushkin — formerly Tsarskoye Selo — near Leningrad, I finished the school of sergeants, then there was retraining for junior reserve officers. I was offered to stay in the army, but I wanted to go home and in 1953 I was demobilised. At that time I got acquainted with my future wife, we are together more than 60 years. She arrived to work at the local distillery. For a long time we travelled searching for a job. We were even in Kazakhstan, but the climate was not appropriate for us: I fainted from the heat, so it was necessary to return. I worked both at school, and in the Komsomol district committee, and as agronomist in the Slutsk District. And then the country needed chemists, and people with work experience were accepted on easy terms in the department of chemistry of the Belarusian State University. And my wife and I became students at the beginning of the 60s. We already had a son, we lived in a hostel, and our Nikolay was with us. Then, in order to support the family, I changed for evening department and when I received my diploma, my wife and I appeared at the Integral production association in 1968. I worked as a senior master in a Transistor Plant, I was a secretary of the party organisation of the shop, I headed the trade-union committee, which was big — about one and a half thousand workers.
Ivan, it is clear that, during your life, you had both stresses and hard work. And when did you feel that it is necessary to care for your health systematically?
The first cause was in the army. I was engaged in strengthening my body. I poured cold water on myself — directly from the tap — all over my back. The conditions were not good in the barracks, and possibly, I over-chilled my solar plexus. I remember that I couldn’t bend down or straighten. At that time, I did not know that self-massage can help with such trouble. When I was young my organism maintained its own balance, but in due course, illnesses started to appear. Especially, I remember how I over-chilled my back when I was caught in heavy, cold rain. I was going from the village to Klichev. I got wet, and as a matter of fact, I had pains in my back since ‘87 or ‘88. The pains reached a critical limit when my right foot started to lose sensitivity. I received a clinic voucher when I had an inflammation in the back. When I was there, I decided to warm up and fell from the pain. It was lumbago. A vertebral disc prolapse was the cause of the inflammation. My back was so tight that my toes grew dumb. I went to the hospital and the surgeon prescribed stretching of the spine in a hot bath — there exists such a method. And though at that time it helped me — my spine improved — the old surgeon said: “Ivan Vasilievich, if you do not take care of yourself then your radiculitis will lead you a wheelchair...” He said that I should improve my health!
That’s logical. As they say, ‘don’t make your cloak when it begins to rain’.
I agree! And it is also said — if youth knew what age would crave, it would both get and save. For that reason I share my experience with people — both ill patients and journalists come to me, in hope that someone will become interested in my methods, in order to simplify their life and that of other people. As for me, I have taken care of my health for more than 25 years. Earlier, I ran every morning. I self-massage daily. In the winter, I ski. I started learning special literature — it is necessary to know where to move. The foot gradually improved, as I now understand, the metabolism was broken in it and the muscles weakened. So I understood that I needed massage. Life forced me. More exactly, pain and the unwillingness to be an invalid forced me.
The main medicines are my handsHow do you usually massage yourself?
Well, it is better to read about this in my son’s, Nikolay Ignatenko’s, book ‘Self-Massage. Unique Method for Improvement of Organism and Treatment of Chronic Diseases’. He, by the way, has done this for a long time and he describes perfectly my methods. The book was issued by one of the Moscow publishing houses in 2011. In brief, I massage my whole body daily: I begin from top of head and finish with my toes. I carefully massage all parts. Thanks to this method I have managed to cure severe illness, bursitis, inflammation of tendons. It began from a displacement of the right hand. By the way, bursitis often happens to typists, seamstresses and milkmaids, where there is monotonous work with the hands.
How did you manage to treat bursitis?
It was long and persistent treatment, overcoming the pain. When you begin to massage, it is necessary not to stroke the skin, but to massage the muscles as deep as possible in order to perfectly soften them. Carefully, several times, 2-3 approaches a day, each — three-five minutes. In general, I now knead all my joints, especially knees, elbows and finger joints: to ensure that there is good blood flow. It happens, that a knee pains. But why? People have many active points — special original sensors — and where there is an inflammatory process, there is, in that area, some pain. It is necessary to massage lightly at first, and then more and more actively. And after 10-15 minutes of massage the pain usually disappears. The sensitivity of the toes on my foot, I restored without medicines and special procedures. Only self-massage. The main medicines I take are my hands. I also massage my feet as a preventive measure.
Nikolay Ignatenko, Ivan Vasilievich’s son, is present at our conversation. He adds:
I have noticed many times that my father never sits doing nothing — all the time he massages something; on the train, on the bus, watching TV, even when he is waiting in the kitchen for the kettle to boil. It is possible to envy his purposefulness. And his big reward — the absence of pain in his body at such an age — is quite deserved. I know, how people who lost heart, or entrusted their health to doctors, suffer. But after all, a doctor cannot be around all day, and anaesthesia will not help. It is necessary to take care of oneself.
Ivan Vasilievich, with what other diseases did you manage to cope with your own forces?
I had so-called ‘zero acidity’. I fought with it by means of herbal infusions, concoctions — I took recipes from books. And now, I also use different herbs and flowers for improving my health. In the spring I walk, and dandelions are all around. I take five flowers, chew and swallow. It is very useful and effective for the stomach. When I am in the summer cottage, I add dandelions in salads during the all summer. It tastes bitter, but the advantage is great. Parkinson’s disease appeared over the course of time — a tremor in the right hand. In general my right side is the problem, though I have ‘restored’ it, it constantly requires care and attention from me. When I stop, illnesses appear. So, I was prescribed medicines and I began to take them. My head was feeble, especially in the morning. I read that there were a lot of contraindications, including complication with the stomach and liver. What is the point of poisoning oneself? The doctor prescribed me other tablets — expensive ones, almost on one and a half dollars for one piece. It is costly! Moreover, they cripple me: I started to feel my liver. It was necessary to stop taking them as a ringing also appeared in the head. I began studying the literature. Clever people recommend how to massage the head. In particular, Vladimir Bekhterev, the well-known neuro-pathologist, gave such recommendations. It is especially beneficial to massage the temples and then each dimple on the skull. Not to tear up, but to put fingers perpendicularly. So now I fight Parkinson’s disease...
You mentioned a summer cottage. How do you think — does it help with your health?
It is possible to say so: It is quite a good trainer, but it is necessary not to be lazy to use it. If you simply lie on the grass your health will not improve. It is necessary to be as active as possible. Anna Minovna and I have a summer cottage located 80 kilometres from Minsk and four and a half kilometres to the train. We go on foot from Negoreloye station. They say that native walls warm better. My son helped to transport the house from Nesyata, it was erected after war and nobody lived in it. My father died and my sisters moved into separate areas. Olga, who lived in Ishim, in the Tyumen region, died. Tanya is in Lisichansk, which is, today, the well-known Lugansk District of Ukraine. I worry for her...
Mr Vasilievich, what main rule would you share for those who, having read conversation with you, will decide to take care of their own health?
The main thing is not to be lazy. People shouldn’t spare the body! People with ‘sedentary’ work have the neck to become numb. From lack of movement, their blood badly circulates and there develops haemostasia, in due course there appear pains. Muscles are as twisted rubber. It means, it is time to get down to business. Muscles should be soft and easily yield to massage. Then blood goes well, the metabolism is proceeding, and nervous impulses are correct. All goes as it should.
It is massage which helps to improve the organism which has problem zones. Internal reserves mobilise. Why is massage good? At any time and in any place people can perform it. In the evening, in the afternoon, at night. If there is time, then massage the place where you have unpleasant sensations. No chemical substances will get into your body during massage; it will not damage neighbouring organs as can happen with medicines. By swallowing chemical substances, for example, for anaesthesia, we place our stomach at risk, as well as kidneys and liver. With self-massage, everything depends only on ourselves. Be persistent, overcome that laziness, the pain will abate, and the mood will be good. The most important thing — is to overcome laziness. It is the enemy of humans. It is necessary to learn to force oneself, to fight for your own health, then we will be ill less often. In general, I do not take any medicines — only perform a full body self-massage, twice a day; once in the morning, and once in the evening. It is a panacea from many chronic illnesses and simultaneously aids in prevention from disease in the future. Sometimes, when I help people, they, having rid themselves of the pain, praise me, telling me that I am a wizard! And I tell them that I am no fakir or wizard — I am simply a self-masseur. That’s why I do not have pain in my body.
By Ivan Zhdanovich