We all know the phrase “in sickness and in health” uttered by couples on their wedding day. That phrase, I would wager, couldn’t hold a candle up to old-world Eastern spousal loyalty—as one Chinese wife demonstrates.
In 2013, a Chinese man named Li Zhihua, from Xiangyang in Hubei Province, was knocked into a coma after he was struck by a motorcycle. Li had been driving to work on a scooter at the time.
Li suffered a serious brain injury and was rendered in a vegetative state, which he did eventually recover from after nearly 2,000 days in a coma.
— LADbible (@ladbible) August 23, 2019
Yet, it was Li’s wife Zhang Guihuan’s dedication to her spouse that made the story of his recovery so much more meaningful.
For five whole years, 57-year-old Zhang tirelessly stayed next to her comatose husband’s bed and nursed him day and night for more than 20 hours a day. As Li’s sole caregiver, Zhang only slept two to three hours per day. She lost 22 pounds (approx. 10 kg) while wholly devoting herself to Li’s recovery.
“The doctor told me it was possible that he would be in a persistent vegetative state,” Zhang told Chinese media. He had been totally unresponsive, according to doctors. She refused to accept their diagnosis, and was determined to prove the doctors wrong by helping him to recover.
Each day, Zhang would clean him, feed him, and also talk to him and play his favorite songs in the hopes that his condition would improve. It is very likely that these forms of encouragement helped Li to get better.
“These things were very helpful to stimulate his nervous system,” Dr. Wan Qing’an told Chinese media.
In order to feed her unconscious husband, Zhang would put food inside his mouth and gently press his tongue to let him know to eat, Daily Mail reported.
And miraculously, Li eventually regained consciousness in 2018. Upon waking, Li’s first words were “Wife, I love you!” as though he was cognizant of her efforts and sacrifice, and reciprocally, wholly appreciative.
According to Dr. Wan, Li had been fully aware of the goings-on around him, though he was unable to speak clearly.
Li remained in the hospital for over a year to facilitate his treatment and recovery, and he has his wife to help him every step of the way.
Recent footage taken by Chinese media shows Zhang massaging and playing music for her husband. She also assisted him in his efforts to stand up and walk with the aid of a metal frame. Head nurse Xia Li said that Zhang “taught her partner many movements and patiently demonstrated them to him without any complaint.”
Zhang shared some words echoing those traditional Eastern values of old, “I have never thought about giving up. As long as he is alive, I will keep serving him.”