‘I love you’: Woman in China develops numeral code to communicate with disabled husband

Woman devises a set of ‘love codes’ to communicate with paralysed husband.
PHOTO: Handout

“51, 63, 26, 84 ...” Luo Caiyun murmurs a series of numbers to her paralysed husband Hu Minglang.

After deciphering Hu’s different mumbling sounds and observing his limited head movements — a nod as in agreement and a shake of his head to express disapproval, Luo then translates the numbers he gave a nod to into Mandarin pinyin based on the code chart she invented. There it is, Hu is trying to tell her: “My mouth hurts, my mother pressed it too hard yesterday.”

This is the couple’s daily routine of communicating using a series of codes invented by Luo after an unexpected illness took away Hu’s capacity to talk and walk in 2012, according to the Yingzhou Evening News.

Luo, 37, and Hu, 51, are from Fuyang in the southeastern Chinese province of Anhui. The two met at a non-profit event in 2007, fell in love instantly, and married in 2009.

Disaster, however, befell the couple only two years into their marriage.

Hu suffered a heart attack and a cerebral haemorrhage in January 2012. Although his life was saved after several emergency operations, his health has deteriorated greatly along with his quality of life. He couldn’t speak or walk and could only eat and drink through a nasogastric tube.

Despite her family’s efforts to persuade her to divorce Hu, Luo, who was 27 at the time, stayed.

She would sit by Hu’s bedside and speak to him without knowing if he could understand her after doing daily routine.

One day, after Luo finished telling a joke, Hu smiled at her.

“He is conscious and can understand me!” said Luo, who recalled her happiness at the time.

Hu couldn’t stop mumbling, nodding and shaking his head as she tried to communicate with him. But he couldn’t say anything.

Luo then came up with the idea of assigning numbers from zero to nine to the consonants and rhymes in Mandarin pinyin that are put in rows and columns in order to communicate with her once-humorous and witty husband through numbers. For example, 5512613114 means “I love you.”

Luo uses a number based code to communicate with her paralysed husband. PHOTO: Handout

This unique set of codes between the couple was born in July 2012, half a year after Hu’s near-fatal illness.

The communication between them was rocky at first, Luo said. She had to mention a lot of numbers before she could figure out what Hu wanted to express.

However, after regular use, the couple no longer need to check the code chart.

Luo even understands what Hu wants to express by a look. She will then say a series of code numbers, to which Hu can respond by nodding or shaking his head.

“These numbers are imprinted in our minds after over a decade of using them,” Luo said.

Luo said that she is the only person who can communicate with Hu and offer him reassurance and comfort.

“He might be able to stand up tomorrow or never; either way, I’ll stay with him for the rest of his life,” Luo said.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.