A dad died five months after his unusually loud snoring turned out to be a symptom of a brain tumour.
Dad-of-two Michael Mackay, 52, died on March 26 after being diagnosed in October.
His widow, Trish, 50, told how she noticed she could hear Michael's snoring from downstairs in their house in Caithness, Scotland.
When she went up to see him she realised he was having a seizure, and the family spent an agonising few months waiting for tests to be carried out which all turned out to be inconclusive.
In late October a biopsy revealed an inoperable tumour on Michael's brain - but he was able to see daughter Leanne, 29, get engaged on Christmas Day.
The tumour, grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma, had no symptoms apart from loud snoring, and Michael was treated with chemotherapy in December in a bid to shrink it.
But the chemo made him so irritable and tired that Michael decided it was detrimental to his quality of life and began palliative care in February.
Tragically his wife, Trish, lost her mum to Covid just before Christmas after months of not seeing her due to travel restrictions, and described 2020 as the “worst year ever”.
‘Michael was not in pain
Trish said: "It has truly been the worst year imaginable.
“I take great comfort from the fact that Michael wasn’t in pain at the end.
"It’s been hard to process everything though, especially in the context of the terrible year we’ve had with Covid."
The couple had planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary last year which was ruined due to lockdown.
After initially planning to video her husband's snoring so she could play it back to him, Trish, who works as a travel consultant, found they were bounced between different hospitals in a bid to establish what was causing it.
‘Snoring was so loud’
Trish said: “I’d got up early one Sunday morning and couldn’t believe how loud Michael’s snoring was.
"He was upstairs in bed and I was downstairs. I grabbed my phone and went up to video him, so I could show him later on.
"It was only when I approached that I realised he was actually having a seizure.
"I called an ambulance and when the paramedics arrived, they thought he was having a heart attack.
"They took him to Caithness General Hospital in Wick and I followed in the car.
"By the time I arrived, he seemed fine, which was a huge relief.
“They did a CT scan of his brain and when the results came through, the doctor told us he was happy for Michael to go home.
"As we were about to leave, the doctor came back asking us to stay, as the team at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness had picked up something on the scan that they weren’t happy with.”
On August 16, the possibility of a brain tumour was mentioned for the first time at a MRI scan in Inverness, and at the end of September, Michael, who worked for Highland Council, saw a consultant neurosurgeon at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
On 5 October, Michael went for a brain biopsy, the specialist decided that was the only way to determine what was going on - and three weeks later the family received the devastating diagnosis which due to its location was inoperable.
‘We love and miss him every day’
Trish said: “Michael was obviously distraught but somehow he stayed strong, accepted his diagnosis and managed to sail through his first two rounds of chemo.
"He had a week off treatment for Christmas and we enjoyed a wonderful time together as a family.
"Our daughter Leanne got engaged on Christmas Day.
"It was lovely but there was an underlying sadness, as we knew this could be our last Christmas with Michael.”
Only three days before Christmas, Trish lost her mum, Catherine Macmillan, 75, to Covid - and the day after her funeral, January 13, Michael had a massive seizure.
Trish said: "Michael had been having tremors in his arm when I left but by the time I got back, he’d lost the ability to speak.
"Leanne came over then Michael suffered a grand mal seizure. He was taken to hospital for monitoring and later that night he was discharged.
“As the days went on, he slowly returned to being my husband.
"But when he started his next round of chemo, it completely floored him. He was so ill; tired and irritable. It was like living with a completely different person.
"By the second week in February, he decided he didn’t want another scan or anymore chemo, as the treatment was having such a detrimental effect on his quality of life.”
The family have so far raised more than £4,000 for Brain Tumour Research.
Trish added: "We’re so proud of what we’re doing in Michael’s memory.
"We love and miss him every day and each step of our challenge will be done with him in our hearts.”
Reporting by SWNS.