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'The virus kills people we love': Woman whose husband died from Covid-19 urges people to wear masks

To people who are “fed up” of the pandemic, Jeni Pim said: “I’m fed up with it as well, it has killed my soulmate.”

Jeni Pim
Jeni Pim
Image: RTÉ

A WOMAN WHOSE husband died after contracting Covid-19 has appealed to people to wear face masks and take other precautions against the virus.

Jeni Pim’s husband Nigel Pim died in hospital in Waterford on 14 January due to complications related to Covid-19.

Jeni, a teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery School, shared her family’s story on the Late Late Show last night.

To people who are “fed up” of the pandemic, she said: “I’m fed up with it as well, it has killed my soulmate.”

Jeni told Ryan Tubridy that she and Nigel enjoyed a lovely Christmas Day.

“We had been so careful, specifically coming up to Christmas because we wanted to have Christmas day with our family.

“We did everything to make sure we got to that day safely and we had the loveliest Christmas day, we did have the most lovely day.”

Jeni said Nigel “wasn’t feeling great so he wore his mask when he wasn’t eating, just to be safe, because that’s the type of guy he was”.

“He just wanted to make sure that my mum and dad and his dad were safe.”

On St Stephen’s Day Nigel’s symptoms progressed and they called the doctor, who advised that Nigel be tested for the virus.

“He kind of went downhill,” Jeni said.

“He still was part of the family, doing everything we were doing, he was just very tired. He never outwardly showed that he was really feeling quite sick, but I knew by him – I know him since I’m sixteen – I knew he wasn’t right.

“We were going towards the test centre and I squeezed his hand and said ‘you’re not very well at all, I’m really worried about you’.”

Nigel was later admitted to hospital. “As we were going along the main road, I just knew he was really sick,” Jeni recalled of the drive there.

“I kept squeezing his hand and saying ‘I love you, it’s going to be OK. You are going to the right place’. I squeezed his hand and said ‘I’ll see you in a few days’, as you would do.

“He walked in … no coughing fits, no temperature really … in another year you would say ‘go to bed for a couple of days and you will be fine’. It wasn’t even the case that it looked like a bad flu.”

ICU

On New Year’s Day Jeni was told that Nigel was being admitted to ICU.

“From when he went down to intensive care, we had no communication from him. He never was able to send us any more communication.

“Then he went on the ventilator, the ventilator takes over the breathing when Covid attacks the lungs. At that stage it was getting very scary and we knew at that stage it was going to be a very long-term thing.”

Jeni recalled getting a devastating phone call on 14 January.

“That day, the consultant rang me and said ‘I’m terribly sorry, there was a complication’.

It was catastrophic. To hear those words, about somebody who you had spent most of your life with, and who, even though you knew they were sick, you expected to be able to see them again.

“They said ‘I’m sorry, it’s catastrophic, there’s nothing we can do. If you and your kids would like to come in and be with him when we turn off the ventilator, we will help you do that’.”

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Wear a mask

Jeni said she decided to speak about her story publicly “because Nigel was a great man, he was kind and he was generous, he wore his mask from the word go because he wanted to protect everybody else because that was the type of guy he was”.

“He was such a selfless person. By wearing his mask, which is what we have been asked to do from the start, he reckoned he was doing his part in saving somebody else’s life.

“And that’s what I’m here for, I just want somebody to look at this and go, do you know what, I am going for a walk with my friend tomorrow, maybe I’ll wear my mask when I’m doing that because I don’t want to see that friend in two weeks time and get a message to say they are on a ventilator in hospital. This virus kills people we love.”

Throughout the interview, Jeni praised the frontline healthcare workers who looked after her husband.

Jeni has tested negative for Covid-19, and received clearance from her doctor to travel to Dublin for the interview.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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