My husband was admitted to the ICU of SRRSH due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He has been hospitalized for three years and five months. As the disease progresses, his condition deteriorates. The progressive atrophy of muscles has spread to his whole body, starting from the trunk, to the chest and the swallowing muscle. He is now totally paralyzed, not able to talk, yet with a crystal-clear mind of what’s happening in the world.
During his hospital stay at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the nurses there provided compassionate care for him. He has met quite a few excellent nurses and Ms. Zhu Bingyan was one of the greatest.
The ALS disease makes him very miserable by leaving him with a perfectly functioning mind while not being able to express his thoughts. When I came to visit him, he opened his mouth a few times, with his eyes moving to Ms. Zhu and tried to say, “She is soooo nice…”. I knew that he wanted to say thanks to Ms. Zhu. In my following few visits, Ms. Zhu was the only subject that my husband would talk about. He tried really hard to “tell” me that Ms. Zhu was very patient, and she would take time and get what he wanted to say. She would help him scratch his head when he “told” her it felt itchy. She would gently touch him when he was scared. My husband is a tough man who rarely cries, yet his eyes filled with tears when he told me all about Ms. Zhu. At that very moment, I knew that what Ms. Zhu did really meant a lot for him and might be the reason that he is hanging in there. I was “told” that Ms. Zhu was very patient and was always there when he needed her, which made him feel very safe.
I started to observe Ms. Zhu and found that she is very professional. She always does her best to meet patients’ needs and when she has a minute, she tries whatever she can to make her patients feel comfortable. Her eyes never get away from her patients.
As a patient’s family member, I understand how harsh the disease is to a person. He can only watch his body function deteriorate while his mind remains clear. The only way for him to express his needs is through his eyes and the limited movement of his lips. At this fragile stage, a sour expression on the nurses’ face, a condescending tone while talking or abrupt body language can be devastating for patients. Nurses like Ms. Zhu who is patient, kind and empathetic, make a great difference.
Every time I came to visit my husband, I could tell from his look that he’s receiving the greatest care in the world. When I expressed my gratitude to Ms. Zhu, she simply said, “This is my job. I just did what I should.” She thought all she did were as easy as lifting a finger, yet it made a great difference to patients like my husband. The care she provided made patients feel safe and peace, giving them hope.
I used to be a nurse, so I understand how hard providing the individualized care can be. Today, as a family member of a patient, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Ms. Zhu Bingyan for her contributions to patients fighting with different diseases. She is truly the “carnation” in our heart!