Woman’s heartbreak at not being able to see partner in final days

John Swainston who has died in Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital, a victim of the Covid-19

John Swainston who has died in Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital, a victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. His partner has given a harrowing account of what it's like to be apart from a loved one in their final days Picture: Anne Edwards - Credit: Archant

A woman has described the harrowing last days of her partner’s life as he died in hospital of coronavirus without her being able to visit, comfort him, or say goodbye.

James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

James Paget Hospital in Gorleston. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Anne Edwards said her partner of 37 years, John Swainston, 73, was terrified of going into the James Paget University in Gorleston in case he contracted the disease, having carefully self-isolated, not leaving the house for four weeks.

Mr Swainston, a retired precision engineer, was admitted with liver problems but because of the lockdown no visitors were allowed.

At first Mrs Edwards was able to speak to him by mobile phone but as he developed Covid-19 symptoms this was no longer possible and he died a week after going in, with nurses making him comfortable and holding his hand.

Former Archant editor Mrs Edwards, 67, said not being able to hug him or say goodbye made it difficult to accept he was gone, and although she had been heartened by the many bouquets arriving on her doorstep in Anson Road, Great Yarmouth, it was hard not being able to see family and friends in the aftermath too.

Anne Edwards, former Archant coastal editor, has shared her heartbreaking account of what happens wh

Anne Edwards, former Archant coastal editor, has shared her heartbreaking account of what happens when a loved-one dies in hospital with coronavirus Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

She added although her partner had twice tested negative for Covid-19 his death certificate stated it was a contributory factor.

In sharing her experience she hoped people would realise the seriousness of the coronavirus threat and stay at home.

MORE: Sharp rise in care home coronavirus-related deaths in new figuresWriting on Facebook she said: “John was suffering from liver failure and was taken into the Paget on Thursday evening last week. I did not know it was the last time I would see him. We spoke quite often mobile to mobile, and I would call the nurse’s desk twice a day to check on his progress.

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“They were worried about his high temperature. And then he began to get breathless. Two days later he was unable to take my calls as he needed the oxygen mask to breathe not talk.

“And it became worse with him needing more and more oxygen and the doctor called me to say they were concerned.

“He was placed in a side room and I couldn’t see him, comfort him or allay his fears, or hug him for fear of the coronavirus spreading to me and I could be a carrier.”

She added: “Two days ago, he had been on a strong dose of oxygen for 24 hours, but when the mask was taken off as a trial he quickly got into trouble. But he was ‘comfortable’.

“Yesterday, late afternoon, I called and the nurse reported he was not improving, and not in pain but his condition was now ‘poorly’.

“Not long afterwards his nurse called me to say he was deteriorating fast, he didn’t have long - and she was right. He died two hours later. He had both his nurse and a palliative care nurse with him, he was sedated and calm - and he drifted away, from me and his family.”

Mrs Edwards said it was a “short horrible illness”, and went on: “Because of his liver failure, this strong man could not rise to the struggle against the Covid. So sad.

“This horrible illness is weaving its way among us, silently and as a predator, seeking a victim. Take as many steps as you can to avoid its track.

“Now I’m thinking, am I starting a sore throat? Have I a temperature? Why did I cough a few minutes ago? These are the symptoms to watch out for – if they worsen, call 111.

“Thousands have been treated and are walking away from this beast from the East. Thousands more have not. Take care. Stay in lockdown as much as possible.

“Only venture out of your home if you need to go shopping or to your job as a key worker. Stay safe.”

MORE: NHS face mask supply ‘could be put at risk’ if public advised to wear themMrs Edwards was also keen to hail the “dedicated and wonderful” team that cared for John, a father of two with three grandchildren, on the EADU ward.

“They did all they could for him. And they are so brave in the face of a virus they could contract,” she said.

“Hopefully, he did not know what he had and that there was no hope for him. He thought he was coming home.”