A man who had an unusually loud snore died just five months after he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, aged 52.
Dad-of-two Michael Mackay’s snoring was a symptom of his condition and could be heard throughout his house in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland.,
His widow, Trish, 50, told how she noticed she could hear Michael’s snoring from downstairs and when she she went up to see him she realised he was having a seizure.
The family spent an agonising few months waiting for tests to be carried out which all turned out to be inconclusive.
A biopsy later revealed an inoperable tumour on Michael’s brain.
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, Tirsh, lost her mum to covid just before Christmas after months of not seeing her due to covid restrictions, and described 2020 as the worst year ever.
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.
Michael was able to see daughter Leanne, 29, get engaged on Christmas Day.
Trish, who works as a travel consultant, initially planned to video her husband’s snoring so she could play it back to him.
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.”
Michael returned home and later went for a brain biopsy, after a specialist decided that was the only way to determine what was going on.
Three weeks later the family received the devastating diagnosis which due to its location was inoperable.
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 are raising money in Michael’s memory for Brain Tumour Research.
Trish added: “We love and miss him every day and each step of our challenge will be done with him in our hearts.”