I lost my husband on Saturday 14th December 2019.
He called me with his alarm at around 7.45am to get up. I wandered into his room and listened to his familiar groans of agony as the pain began to take hold. I reached for his head and shoulders and sat him up. It took no effort at all. I could have lifted him with one finger. Odd, I thought, but continued through the usual routine.
As I reached for his drink, he lolled over to one side. I eased him back to centre and reached again for his drink, but he then fell to the other side. “Bloody hell babe” I said exasperated as I picked him up again, “you’re all over the place this morning!”.
I positioned his drink in his hands just so, but they fell away from the cup. I tried again, but they fell away again. “I’ll hold it for you” I said, and I sat down on the floor at his feet.
As I looked up, my stomach lurched as I realised that it wasn’t the drink he was struggling with, but the fact he was gasping for breath. He couldn’t take in any air. Oh my God he couldn’t breathe.
I lifted him to the wheelchair and gave him a shot of morphine as I remembered the nurse once telling me that would open his airways in an emergency. I wheeled him through to the lounge and transferred him to his armchair as quickly as I could manage. As he sat down, I noticed he was looking at his inhaler with desperation in his eyes. I pressed the cartridge at his lips, but his gasps were too shallow to take it in. I ran for his breathing machines, but the jumble of wires sent me into panic.
“Shall I call the nurse for your emergency meds?” I asked, to which he nodded his head. That was when I know the situation was really bad, as he would normally insist on me not calling anyone.
I phoned the nurse on call. She took all the details, but I knew it was too late. As I put the phone down Paul’s eyes rolled upwards and he fell gently to the side. Exhausted.
All I could do was hold his head to my chest as he made his final attempts to catch a breath. By this time, it was about 8.10am, only 25 minutes since he woke. Five seconds of stillness and he tried again. Ten seconds of stillness and he tried once more. He didn’t try a third time. He was gone. Free at last from his agony but leaving his family heartbroken. I can’t bring myself to describe to you how the boys reacted, but I will tell you it’s a sound I never want to hear again for as long as I live.
Paul’s funeral will be held at Pontefract Crematorium next Friday 27th December at 9am. It will last about 40 minutes and then we will have a drink in his memory at Hemsworth Miners Welfare FC, Fitzwilliam, where he was Captain for many years. We will celebrate his life and remember the man he used to be before this cruel disease took hold of him.
He currently rests at Normington & Sons, Havercroft should anyone wish to say their goodbyes. He looks at peace, dressed in his Leeds United shirt with a funny sideways smile on his face.
Thank you everyone for you love and support throughout nearly 3 years of hell. You gave him the strength to continue on, for which we will be forever grateful.
I have never known and will never know anyone as strong as my husband. How he endured what he did for so long is testament to the man he was. An absolute legend. One of a kind.
See ya babe. Hope you’re having a party up there. Love you always.
Paul Russell Banton
28.08.76 – 14.12.19