Coronavirus: “I wouldn’t see my wife again until I picked up her ashes 11 days later.”

From Ming Que at Sixth Tone:

Part 2

My wife and I moved to Huanggang from nearby Qichun County about six months ago. We invested 30,000 yuan and opened a store that sold windows and doors with a few other people. We wanted to change our lives; we never thought something like this would happen.

The store had just opened, and we had yet to turn a profit. We took home about 3,000 yuan a month in salary, but with rent, living expenses, and our daughter’s preschool bills, we’d been in the red for half a year.

In Wuhan, my wife was first admitted into the fever clinic, but at around 1 or 2 in the morning on Jan. 11 she was transferred to the ER, and then moved into an observation ward for those in critical condition. There were a lot of people in the hospital that night. Some of the patients’ family members weren’t wearing masks, but many of the doctors and nurses were. I asked a nurse for a few.

From the moment my wife went to the fever clinic, she was kept in isolation. The doctors told me she had an unknown type of pneumonia. The next day, they said her condition was critical, and they would need to revise her treatment plan. She needed some kind of machine, they said. All I knew was that it would be expensive: 20,000 yuan a day, and even then, there was only a 10% chance she’d survive. I was on the verge of a breakdown. I hadn’t had any rest in days. Finally, on the morning of Jan. 12, I found a chair in the hospital and went to sleep for an hour.

My mom and I eventually got a room in a hostel nearby. Many of the other people staying there also had family members who were being treated for pneumonia.

I wasn’t allowed to see my wife, so I spent every day cooped up in the hostel thinking of ways to raise money. While we were still in Huanggang, I’d borrowed 10,000 yuan from my brother, and I later made the rounds among both our families. I was scared: I only knew that she couldn’t stop treatment. I had to get her back.

I called the mayor’s hotline, the provincial governor’s hotline, and the numbers of several media outlets. I also launched a crowdfunding campaign that brought in about 40,000 yuan. But it was nowhere near enough. In the first three days after she was admitted, her treatment cost between 50,000 and 60,000 yuan a day, and another 20,000 each day after that.

I wanted to see her. I wanted to talk to her and ask her how she was doing, what she wanted to eat, or if there was anything she wanted to do. But I couldn’t. Every time I called her doctors, they told me she still hadn’t woken up, and that her condition hadn’t improved or that she’d gotten worse.

Her pregnancy made her more vulnerable. Her doctors said her hands turned purple, then her feet. It was necrosis. It all happened so fast. After she was put into an observation ward on Jan. 11, I wouldn’t see her again until I picked up her ashes 11 days later.

By noon on Jan. 21, I had exhausted every available resource, and my wife was showing no signs of improvement. Utterly heartbroken, I talked it over with my in-laws before signing a waiver agreeing to halt further treatment. An hour later, at 1:46 p.m., my wife died. She was cremated later that night. Her death certificate says she died of “septic shock, respiratory failure, and severe pneumonia.”

I found out later that an elderly fellow patient of hers, one whose condition had also been very serious, has slowly recovered with treatment — though not yet enough to leave the isolation ward. It’s hard to process. My in-laws don’t blame me, but I feel guilty.

…I can’t sleep. I lie awake in bed, my mind racing. I can’t put this pain into words. It’s still the Lunar New Year holiday, but my home feels cold and cheerless. My neighbors are terrified, and almost everyone hides in their houses. My daughter’s too young to understand what happened. Sometimes she asks me where her mother went and I don’t know what to tell her.

Read the whole thing here.