A heartbroken widow has given a stark warning to those still ignoring Covid-19 restrictions after her “fit and healthy” 59-year-old husband died just a few weeks after testing positive for coronavirus.
Paul Butler, a retired builder, died on December 6 after a four-week battle with the virus, leaving behind three children and his wife Jane.
Butler’s condition deteriorated after he was brought out of an induced coma. He was put under again and never woke.
His widow Jane, 58, from Canvey Island in Essex, feels husband Paul's death is an important reminder of the ever-present dangers of Covid, and has urged others to follow the government's guidelines.
Watch: What is long COVID?
She said: "I think we all get wrapped up in our own feelings and forget that these wonderful NHS staff have a heart too.
"Would you want to put your loved ones through what we’ve been through? Seeing what goes on in a Covid ICU is not nice, believe me.
"Please just stop for a moment and digest - this virus is real, it kills, it breaks families, and we can all stop this.
“Do the right thing. Wear your masks, wash your hands, and give people space."
Jane added that Paul’s consultant said his death “shouldn’t have happened”.
She continued: “He came from his office and said: ‘This shouldn’t have happened, we really, really did not expect this.
“‘This time round things are different, treatments we have been giving are not working. I really am so sorry'. He looked completely shattered. The colour had drained from his face.
“People think ‘oh my husband/wife has gone into hospital, they’ll be out soon', but it’s not like that. That pain of sitting and waiting for the phone to ring is unbearable.”
Jane recalled Paul had been feeling unwell for a couple of weeks before Jane rang 111, with doctors initially thinking he was suffering from long Covid after recalling similar symptoms back in March.
She said: "Paul was a hard worker. He was fit and healthy. He usually couldn’t sit still for five minutes but he was coming to lie on the sofa, which wasn’t like him, so I knew how unwell he was.
“Paul was taken to A&E at Southend and put on a Covid ward, where he remained for 48 hours.
Jane added: “Nieve, Paul’s daughter, and I spoke to him and he said he felt a little better. He told us he loved us and hopefully would see us back at home in a couple of days.
“But at 3am on Wednesday morning, the phone rang - Paul was on his way to ICU to be put in an induced coma. My world fell apart.”
After being transferred from Southend University Hospital to Basildon, Paul eventually came around from the coma and showed some signs of improvement.
Jane and Nieve managed to speak to him over the next few days over FaceTime, where Paul, struggling to speak, managed to utter the words “love you sweet” to Jane.
“He was so thin, and his eyes were sunken – he looked dreadful,” Jane added.
However, Paul’s condition took a downhill turn, with Jane and the family spending the next few weeks unable to eat, sleep or stand still out of worry.
Jane said: “We then, as a family, had the most horrendous couple of weeks. As told by several consultants, Paul’s behaviour was typical of Covid.
“Having to live every day on tenterhooks - will it be good news? Will it be bad? This is truly horrendous.
“A day felt like a week - no sleep, trying to be brave and stay positive, crying on my own, crying with Nieve, crying inside, it was a pain like no other.
“On December 5, we got the call to say things were not good at all and as much as the team had tried their hardest, they didn’t know what to do next.”
Paul died on December 6.
Jane and Nieve were asked if they wanted to visit Paul while he was still on life support.
“All I can remember is wailing like a wounded animal, a pain in my chest, breathless, my head feeling heavy and feeling like my heart was about to burst from my chest,” Jane said.
“Nieve wanted to see her daddy on her own first and took a Build a Bear that she had when she was four that spoke the words ‘love you mummy, love you daddy'.
“Now believe me or not, that bear hadn’t worked for a couple of years but when Nieve cuddled it on that day, it worked.
“The love of my life, lying there while we said goodbye was the worst thing I have ever been through, the pain of seeing Nieve was like a knife in my heart.”
A funeral for Paul will be held on January 7.
Jane has since raised over £2,500 for Paul’s favourite charity, Help for Heroes, adding that she wants to do something that will make him proud.
The fundraiser can be found here.
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