Ipswich: Dad’s heartbreak as Michelle, 21, dies of asthma
IPSWICH: For years, Michelle Emeny bravely managed her chronic illness – but it was a condition which would ultimately take her young life.
For many, asthma is a minor ailment, but for the 21-year-old, it meant regular stays in intensive care at Ipswich Hospital.
Today, her devastated family have paid loving tributes to their “angel” after their worlds fell apart on Christmas Eve when Michelle passed away – two days before her birthday.
In the last six years, she was admitted onto the critical care unit at the hospital in Heath Road five times. And each time she had survived.
Speaking at his home in Margate Road, dad Trevor Emeny, 49, said last year was “the best she had been for a long time”.
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The 21-year-old, of Knutsford Close, understood her illness, known as brittle asthma. She knew when to take her medicine and knew when an attack was about to strike. But gradually her condition deteriorated.
“She will be missed by so many people, but she will never be forgotten,” said Mr Emeny. “If I could change places with her, I would – in an instant. She hasn’t had a life and I have. Because of her illness, she missed out on so much as a teenager. It is a cruel world.
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“Between them, Michelle and Daniel (his son) owned my heart. It feels like it is broken now. She is my angel.”
Michelle’s fiance, Jude Bolton, added: “Shell and I were trying for a baby. She was so excited.
“She was so caring, she was my life, we did everything together. We were planning to get married. I miss everything about her.”
Around a week before Christmas, the former Copleston High School student was speaking to her brother Daniel, 24, on the phone when she suffered an attack.
She was taken to Accident and Emergency and later transferred into intensive care.
Mr Emeny said: “To say we weren’t worried sounds ridiculous, but we had been there before and she had got better.”
The following day, the Sunday before Christmas, Mr Emeny stayed by his daughter’s side until she was ready to go to sleep.
As he left, he kissed her goodnight and said he would see her in the morning. It was the last time he spoke to her.
At 4am, he was woken by a nurse at the hospital, who told him Michelle was going to get worse if they didn’t help her breathing using a machine.
By the Tuesday, doctors made the decision to wake Michelle up from her sedation and take her off the ventilator.
“We tried everything,” said Mr Emeny. “We were all talking to her, but she didn’t wake up.”
A CT scan of Michelle’s brain, carried out on the Wednesday before Christmas, revealed she had suffered brain damage so severe she was already clinically dead.
“I just felt numb, I have never had a feeling like it,” Mr Emeny said. “I felt the world came crashing down around me. I always believed she was going to get better.”
On Christmas Eve, surrounded by her family and friends, Michelle slipped peacefully away.
Mr Emeny added: “Jude was the most important person in her life – and that is hard to say as her dad.
“The closest person to her was her brother. They would talk every day and they told each other everything.
“When she was in hospital, Michelle told Daniel she wasn’t coming out this time, she could feel it, and she gave him a whole list of instructions to look after everyone.
“She would say exactly what was on her mind. As a little girl, she was always laughing. She was the life and soul of the party.
“One of the things I miss is getting out of my truck and checking my phone – she used to just send me a message saying ‘I love you dad’.”
n Opinion – page 6
n Pay your tributes to Michelle. Telephone the Star newsdesk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@ eveningstar.co.uk.