‘My first love’: truck driver takes paralysed wife everywhere even when working

A man in China whose wife was left disabled by a brain injury has touched millions after videos of the couple’s daily life and travels were published on mainland social media.

Videos of a man carrying his paralysed wife on and off a truck and taking care of her daily needs, including cleaning, changing her clothes, and exercise has brought many people in mainland China to tears.

The man, Nie Jianwen, 39, is a truck driver from Longnan in Gansu province, northwest China. According to Nie, his wife, Cao Yingying, suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2020, leaving her paralysed.

He has been working as a truck driver based in Shanghai since 2007, thousands of kilometres away from his hometown. But he decided to take Cao to be on the road with him in 2020 after she became paralysed so he can care for her full time.

“There are already two young children at home, and it’s beyond my 76-year-old mother’s capacity to take care of a third person who is disabled,” Nie told China Youth Daily.

Because space in his truck is limited, Nie says that basic things like: ‘Taking a shower or using the restroom are the hardest things to overcome.’

After his wife became paralysed, Nie became her sole carer, washing her daily, changing her clothes — even helping her to put on make-up.

When Nie needs to load or unload goods at night, he will carry his wife off the truck for rehabilitation training due to a lack of space on board.

Now, after more than two years, Cao is able to walk nearly two kilometres with Nie’s help.

Because the space in his truck is so limited with no washing and bathroom facilities, Nie said that basic things like: “Taking a shower or using the restroom are the hardest things to overcome.”

Nie said that Cao sometimes soiled the bed as a result of the challenges of finding a restroom when driving on the highway. Nie would always clean up the mess without complaining.

According to Nie, his sole ambition is to earn a good living and upgrade to a nicer vehicle so they may travel farther and give his wife more room for doing rehabilitation exercise on board.

Many people praised Nie as: “a role model for men”. He said that he could finally make up for what he owed to his wife’s dedication to caring for their family for more than 10 years.

“When she was well, my wife took care of everything at home and gave birth to our two children,” Nie said. “I cannot dump her when she is ill.”

“I will feel guilty for the rest of my life if I let her go.”

The couple have known each other since secondary school.

The couple has been together for a long time; Cao was both Nie’s first love and secondary school classmate, and their relationship is something he cherishes.

“When we were younger, I tried for years to win her over as my girlfriend, the moment I laid eyes on her for the first time, I knew she was ‘the one’,” Nie recalled.

“I think it’s difficult for two people to get together, and taking your responsibility when the time comes is the basis of being a human.”

Speaking about her husband’s devotion, Cao said: “My husband is a decent man who loves to joke and has a sense of duty.”

“Most importantly, he loves me.”