Xiaoming Zhang

Xiaoming Zhang, RN, BSN

ICU
Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University
Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province
China

Life sometimes is so fragile that like a thin ice, it could break into pieces with crash. The accident my little brother went through changed his life forever. He was cleaning a window when he accidentally fell off the four meter high platform, leaving him with multiple fractures and paralysis from the fourth cervical vertebra. At the golden age of 18, he should have been sitting in the classroom with classmates fighting for his beautiful dream or getting together with roommates to discuss who the most attractive girl was. However, everything changed out of the blue. That window became the painful turning point of his young life. Subsequent hospitalization and enduring many surgeries did not make him any better. The accident left him without any choice but to have a tracheotomy because his respiratory muscles did not work anymore. A young life was gradually fading away. As one of the family members, I could hear the sound of my heart breaking. February 27 is a day I can still remember clearly. The weather was gloomy and cold, just as my heart was so heavy and full of grief. My little brother had been in the hospital since the accident, about 20 days. The expensive cost for his care had become a heavy burden for a family not so rich like ours. Repeatedly talking with his doctors gave us less hope that he would live. Our parents hesitated whether to give up or not, to remove him from the machines that were keeping him alive. It was my little brother’s life, and we felt we had no right to give it up. However, as time went by, the chance for him to heal became less and less possible. How painful and desperate it was! Finally, our family decided to take him home (which meant that we were giving up). That day, we waited in front of the ICU door for the visiting hour to come. I didn’t know how to face my beloved little brother. I stood shivering, thinking of the risk we were going to assume by taking him off the ventilator and carrying him home. The visiting moments finally came; my mom and I went first into the ICU room to see him. I could feel my heart in a mess and my legs were very heavy. I moved step by step to his bedside. A male nurse, who was in charge of my brother’s care that day, welcomed us by introducing himself. His name was Xiaoming, and this was his first time to be my little brother’s nurse. He gently walked us to the bedside and patiently explained the condition of my little brother. He told us that my little brother did not want us to waste any more money and that he wanted to be an organ donor. We were so sad and grieved at that moment. My brother had been such a sunshine boy and God was so cruel to him. On the other hand, I realized that with my little brother was on ventilation, it must be very hard for Xiaoming to figure out what my little brother needed, which Xiaoming could only do by reading the lips. We were very grateful for his patience and care. After we told Xiaoming our decision, he immediately contacted the doctors. For the whole 30 minutes visiting time, our family members took turns inside the ICU, staying close to my little brother. Xiaoming explained my brother’s condition to every one of us and said something that we should pay more attention to when we went home. We all knew that was his kind “goodbye” to the young life. Xiaoming helped us gather the belongings after we signed the “give up” consent with doctors. We walked out of the ICU with Xiaoming as our guide. From the beginning to the end, this male nurse named Xiaoming kept a solemn very professional demeanor. I was expecting some judgmental or resentful expressions he heard our decision about my little brother. On the contrary, on Xiaoming’s face, I saw pity, respect, sympathy and understanding. For the moment, I got some “consolation” from him, and that was so important for me. I learned how to face my beloved brother whom I could no longer help and how to face death. My brother left us the next day and our family was very grieved. I took out my cellphone anyway and sent out a message to the nurses in ICU. “My brother left us today. Thank you for taking such good care of him. I especially wanted to thank the male nurse Zhang Xiaoming. It was his first and last time to be my brother’s nurse, but he expressed his respect to patients, family and life in a very professional way. His actions spoke loudly about the high-quality your health care professionals hold.” I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude to him. Thank you so much! You are one true angel!