REGINA — The wife of a man who died after being diagnosed with COVID-19 says her husband did everything he could to avoid catching it and couldn’t fight it off when he did.
Noble Gullacher, 69, was a diabetic who was waiting for a kidney transplant.
“He was trying to stay as healthy as he could,” Kathleen Gullacher said in an interview Monday. “He was always very careful.
“If a kidney came up, then he wanted to be ready for it, because he knew that was the only way he would ever feel good again.”
He never got the chance. The Regina man died Friday in hospital.
Known to his friends and family as Butch, Gullacher was a father to two boys and a grandfather to their three children. He loved watching their sporting events when he retired as a conductor with CP Rail after 35 years, said his wife.
She said her husband started feeling unwell in mid-March.
“We went to the doctor … because he had been feeling so rough and so weak,” she said.
The doctor thought Gullacher had a touch of pneumonia and sent him for a chest X-ray.
His condition worsened by the next morning, so his wife called an ambulance and he was taken to the hospital. The emergency doctor also thought he had pneumonia.
“He wasn’t presenting with any COVID symptoms,” said Kathleen Gullacher. “He didn’t have a fever. He didn’t have a cough. He was a little short of breath.”
His COVID-19 test came back positive on March 19.
“The hunt began,” she said. “We don’t know where he got it.
“There was nobody in the family. We searched all around. Nobody had been travelling.”
She said they had been out in the community a week earlier.
“We had been to Costco. We’d been to Safeway,” she said. “He had been to the drugstore to pick up something because he was still mobile.
“We still don’t know.”
Gullacher said she never got sick and hasn’t been tested, but she was in isolation for two weeks after her husband’s diagnosis.
“If anybody had been exposed, it was me because I was living with him.”
Their oldest son, his wife and one of their two children did get sick with COVID-19.
“Obviously, they were exposed from him and they all got it,” said Kathleen Gullacher. “My oldest son … was not well for days.”
All had the symptom of no taste and no smell. One of her grandchildren, she said, had a fever for two days.
“Everybody was different.”
Gullacher said her husband started in a weaker state and couldn’t fight it off.
“He ran a fever the whole three weeks he was in (hospital),” said Gullacher. “They assume he was still positive for the virus, that he hadn’t fought it off.
“He just wasn’t going to get better.”
Gullacher said she was able to go to the hospital Friday after the family decided to take her husband off his ventilator.
She wasn’t allowed to be in the room, but she said she could talk to him through the glass as a nurse removed the breathing tube.
“It only took about 15 or 20 minutes and then his heart stopped. She held his hand the whole time.”
Family members decided they couldn’t put doctors and nurses at risk any more, Gullacher said.
“They (were) in a room every day with someone who’s positive for this virus and we (had) no clue how it’s going to hit them,” she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2020
— By Colette Derworiz in Edmonton
The Canadian Press