'A hole in my life' - man speaks out after wife dies from 'cruel disease'

Michael Hewitt and his wife Phyllis, who has died of pulmonary fibrosis.

Michael Hewitt and his wife Phyllis, who has died of pulmonary fibrosis. - Credit: Supplied by Michael Hewitt

A Norfolk man has spoken of his heartbreak after losing his wife of 48 years to a deadly disease. 

Michael Hewitt, who is originally from Swanton Abbott and moved to Northern Ireland after meeting his wife, Phyllis, said more funds were needed to research pulmonary fibrosis, which can develop when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred.

Michael Hewitt and his wife Phyllis, who has died of pulmonary fibrosis.

Michael Hewitt and his wife Phyllis, who has died of pulmonary fibrosis. - Credit: Supplied by Michael Hewitt

Since Phyllis died aged 78 at the end of November, her husband has been working to raise awareness of the disease. He said he did not want anyone else to have to suffer the way he has.

Mr Hewitt, 71, said: "Pulmonary fibrosis is a cruel disease which has taken Phyllis from me. It needs more publicity, more investigation and above all more finance. I have a big hole in my life, and it will take much time to fill."

Mr Hewitt said he noticed his wife had become less active just before Christmas 2018.

He said: "She was not walking as far as she used to, having to stop, feeling breathless and having to rest for a time.  She developed a very serious chest infection with cold like symptoms, breathing difficulties, headaches and a chesty cough."

Phyllis Hewitt, who has died after getting pulmonary fibrosis several years ago.

Phyllis Hewitt, who has died after getting pulmonary fibrosis several years ago. - Credit: Supplied by Michael Hewitt

Phyllis took a bad turn in July 2019. Mr Hewitt said: "The GP gave a telephone diagnosis and liquid medicine was prescribed but her illness got worse.  After much more pressure Phyllis was sent to A&E where they found her blood pressure/blood oxygen level was very low. 

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"Phyllis was in hospital for five days, had many tests and was on oxygen for quite a lot of the time." 

He said they were told Phyllis had pulmonary fibrosis in October of that year.

Mr Hewitt said: "This came as a total shock and it was then that we learned there was no cure.   

"The cause couldn’t be determined, and medication was trial and error." 

Phyllis Hewitt, who has died after getting pulmonary fibrosis several years ago.

Phyllis Hewitt, who has died after getting pulmonary fibrosis several years ago. - Credit: Supplied by Michael Hewitt

Mr Hewitt said Phyllis' condition deteriorated throughout 2020 as they were shielding at home through the pandemic. 

"Her unrelenting determination to fight this awful condition was reflected in her eyes, and the love that we shared gave me the inspiration to fight the battle with her. I was at her side 24/7 helping her to manage day-to-day things."

Mr Hewitt said anyone who wanted to find out more about this disease could do so through the Pulmonary Fibrosis  Trust website at pulmonaryfibrosistrust.org.


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