by Xinhua writers Lyu Qiuping, Lu Youyi
Xie Zerong finally had her hair done, turning her straight dark hair into wavy brown locks.
For two months, the nurse, 37, was too busy to take care of her hair, which was hidden in protective gear anyway.
Xie, from the West China Hospital of Sichuan University in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, was among the 42,000 medical workers across the country assigned to the former COVID-19 epicenter of Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province to help treat the infected patients.
Tuesday marks International Nurses Day and also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse known as the founder of modern nursing.
Xie has seen life and death as a nurse over the past 18 years. Once as a patient herself, she had defeated thyroid cancer. Such experiences enabled her to better value lives and treat the world with goodwill, prompting her to sign up to go to the front line.
Xie’s husband, Yang Zhenguo, knew no matter what he and their 9-year-old son Ranran said, she would go.
“We have been married for 17 years. I know her too well,” said Yang, an aviation engineer.
Yang filled his wife’s suitcase with a lot of medicine, even though he had no idea whether it would be helpful.
On Feb. 7, Xie joined the fifth batch of medical workers from Sichuan to Hubei and boarded a bus to the airport.
“If I can’t return, people will remember Ranran has a great mother,” she said to herself while seeing her family waving goodbye and gradually out of her sight.
When the airplane was about to land, all medical workers onboard were asked to change their masks into N95 respirators.
“It’s like a ceremony marking the beginning of a war, in which we were warriors fighting for our country. It was at that moment that my fear was gone,” she recalled.
The team was assigned to the Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, where the COVID-19 patients were mostly in serious or critical conditions.
In suffocating protective gear, she gave injections, monitored machines, collected garbage, fed the patients and helped them turn over in bed.
She always remembered when the first patient died in the ward despite all-out efforts.
“Everybody was sad. I heard someone sobbing,” said Xie, adding that she had to hold back tears because crying would blur the goggles.
By Monday, 4,633 people had died of COVID-19 on the Chinese mainland, according to the National Health Commission.
Xie also felt the power of love on seeing a 65-year-old unconscious patient magically wake up as her 41-year-old son, also a patient, kept calling her at the side.
Among the 109 patients who were treated in Xie’s ward section, 107 were cured.
“I’m proud that we never gave up on any patient,” she said, adding many elders, including a 93-year-old, recovered and were discharged from the hospital.
Among the 82,919 total confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland, 78,171 people had been discharged after recovery by Monday.
On April 7, the day before Wuhan relaxed its outbound travel curbs as infections waned, the medical team finally completed its mission and left for home.
On the bus to the airport, Xie saw police officers saluted while watching their vehicles leave. A passer-by stopped his electric bicycle, waving them goodbye.
Xie’s life back home was nothing special — house cleaning, helping her son with homework and visiting her parents, who were not supportive of her Wuhan trip but later felt very proud of her. She even almost forgot her 38th birthday, which will be on Sunday.
“Maybe just a birthday cake is enough. Simple is good,” she said.
Xie likes her new hairstyle very much, which, in her words, has displayed her sunny, lovely and positive side.
“I’d like to throw myself into work again with my best look and state,” she said. Enditem