Widow of ‘family man’ who died with Covid inspired to become a nurse
A mum-of-three whose husband died with Covid is now training to become a nurse after being inspired by the care he was given in hospital. Rachel Ohene-Adjei’s husband, Eric, 46, was admitted to University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff with breathing difficulties in February after testing positive for coronavirus, and spent nearly two months in intensive care before his death on April 17. While she was unable to be by her husband’s side during “seven weeks of hell,” Rachel, from Cardiff, was able to see him before he died and a consultant from the hospital held her hand as she said her final goodbyes.
Read more:Dad moved to tears by rugby fan’s gesture at the Principality Stadium Now, inspired by the compassion that both she and her husband were shown during the ordeal, she has gone back to school in a bid to become a nurse and give the same level of care that she received to other families. “A few weeks after Eric’s funeral, I decided to apply for the pre-access to nursing course because I would like to be able to give back to families how the doctors and nurses at the hospital treated me,” Rachel told BBC Wales.
“I’ve got nothing but praise for every single member of staff who took the time to calm me, to give me the information I asked for or needed. “It was such a busy time, so many people were in intensive care with Covid, and they always had time to speak to me, they let me know exactly how he was, it was never a problem. They would always put the phone to his ear so me and the children could talk to him, which was brilliant.
They were just amazing.”
The couple had three children together (Image: Rachel Ohene-Adjei)
After struggling with shyness, Rachel left school without passing GCSE maths and English, but said that her husband helped her to build up her confidence and go from “being a shy girl who’d walk with her head down to being able to speak for myself”. She has now started studying for those qualifications again as she sets her sights on a new career, and hopes to one day work in intensive care. “I’ve got to go and take my GCSEs again first, and then I have to pass that, and then I have to do the access course which is intense – lots of work crammed into a year – and then fingers crossed then, it’s applying to university,” she said.
The couple met on a night out in Cardiff in 2003 before getting married in Ghana four years later, and had three children together – Isaac, 12, Jacob, nine, and Ebony, eight. Eric, who worked as a security guard at the Tesco Superstore in St Mellons, had previously told his wife about shoppers refusing to wear masks in the store. Tributes poured in for the 46-year-old following his death, with family members describing him as an “outstanding, bubbly family man”.
Rachel has now been reunited with Dr Nick Stallard, the consultant who held her hand as she said goodbye to Eric, for the first time since her husband’s death to thank him and tell him about her decision to become a nurse. “Your presence and your compassion and everything you and your staff did for myself and Eric, I am so amazingly grateful to you all. The way you spoke to me, how you held my hand.
It meant so much to me and it helped me with my grieving,” she told him. “I always say I’m very fortunate that I was given the opportunity to be able to go and be with Eric at the end and a lot of families are not, but everything you did, the way you treated him, me, everything you were just ace, it meant so much to me. “Because of everything you all did, I’ve decided now to start college and I’m doing a pre-access to nursing course.
I would like to eventually work in ICU one day and give back to families what you did for us.”
Rachel said hospital staff held a phone to her husband’s ear so he could speak to her and their children from intensive care (Image: Rachel Ohene-Adjei)
Dr Stallard told Rachel that she’d made “an amazing decision” to go into nursing and said it was “fantastic news”. “Intensive care strips a lot of dignity away from people but we try and give them that dignity,” he said. “I’ve spent a long, long time in my career trying to do that and hopefully from what you say we have got it right. We recognise that Eric was your husband and a dad as well, and he was clearly very loved within his community, so we had to give him some dignity after seven weeks of fighting Covid.
“It was a very difficult time for yourself and for Eric and your family and also it was a difficult time in critical care because we were having to do things that we’d never done before. But thank you on behalf of the team, because it’s a team effort in intensive care, that you felt secure with us and that we took care of Eric. “You’ve made an amazing decision to go into nursing, that’s fantastic news.
I’m ever so grateful that that was a catalyst to you going back to school and trying something new, I think that’s an amazing thing and I’m sure that Eric, if he was here, would be clapping his hands at you making that decision.”
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