The coronavirus may have temporarily robbed one Utah man of his ability to speak, but it didn’t take his ability to play the violin — and play he did, as seen in a sweet video from his hospital bed that has gone viral.
Grover Wilhelmsen was admitted to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah in October after testing positive for COVID-19, the hospital said in a press release.
Despite being intubated and unable to speak as a patient in the ICU, Wilhelmsen, a retired orchestra teacher, wanted to figure out a way to thank his nursing staff for their care.
“What an amazing person to be able to sit there with a tube down his throat and still think, ‘What can I do for them?’” his daughter Rebekah Blume told NBC affiliate KSL.
Armed with a pen and paper, Wilhelmsen wrote to nurse Ciara Sase, and suggested his wife Diana bring in his violin and viola so he could express his gratitude through sound.
“I said to him ‘We’d love to hear you play, it would bring so much brightness and positivity into our environment,’” Sase said in the release.
Upon clearing it with his doctors, Diana fulfilled her husband’s request, and brought him his beloved instruments and some music books, which allowed him to play for several hours a day over the next two days.
Sase even helped her colleagues hear the tunes by using a device that would allow them to listen as they gathered outside Wilhelmsen’s room while he played the "Tennessee Waltz" and various church hymns.
“It brought tears to my eyes. For all the staff to see a patient doing this while intubated was unbelievable. Even though he was so sick, he was still able to push through,” she said in the release. “You could see how much it meant to him. Playing kind of helped to soothe his nerves and brought him back to the moment.”
Added nurse Matt Harper: “This was by far one of my favorite memories in the ICU that I’ve had. It was a small light in the darkness of COVID.”
Wilhelmsen’s health declined just days after his bedside concerts, and he had to be sedated, putting an end to the sweet music.
“Before he took a turn for the worse, he continued to write things to me such as, ‘It’s the very least I could do,’ and ‘I do it for you guys because you all are sacrificing so much to take care of me,’” Sase said.
Diana told KSL that Wilhelmsen was discharged to a long-term acute care facility on Nov. 10 after spending a month in the hospital, and is expected to recover.
She warned that COVID can affect people in different ways, as she, her husband and their daughter Rebekah all tested positive, and all had different reactions.
“It’s very real,” she said. “It’s very dangerous. Wear your mask.”
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