Heartbroken Colm McCandless in tribute to 'love of his life' Tracey at inquest into her death at Royal Victoria Hospital
A grieving husband has paid tribute to his wife who died of complications from diabetes, describing her as "the love of his life" and a woman "who broke the mould".
Colm McCandless (44) from Dunmurry in south Belfast said he fell in love with Tracey (née Hughes) 10 years ago "when our partying days were over".
But now he is trying to rebuild his life without her after she died from a heart attack on April 17, 2014, at the Royal Victoria Hospital.
He attended her inquest yesterday at Laganside Court alongside members of Mrs McCandless' family, including parents Marie and Thomas, and medical staff who cared for her.
Coroner Suzanne Anderson heard how Mrs McCandless had been diagnosed at 14 with diabetes mellitus, which affects sugar levels in the body.
Throughout Mrs McCandless' life she suffered severe complications from the condition including blindness in one eye, amputation of her lower left leg, hardened and narrowing arteries and kidney failure.
Having undergone a successful transplant in 2005 with a kidney donated by her father, Mrs McCandless had "six relatively good years" while she was taking immuno suppressant medicines to stop the organ from being rejected.
In 2011 she opted for two cycles of IVF, which were unsuccessful, and weeks later a poisonous mass 10cmx10cm in size, known as a sepsis, was found in her pelvis and hospitalised her for nine months. The coroner heard how her diabetes and kidney failure had "severely impacted on her life" resulting in her spending 681 days out of five years in different hospitals undergoing treatment with multiple illnesses including spinal tuberculosis, a mini stroke and infections.
She was also undergoing dialysis three times a week to cleanse her blood of excess potassium, which was on the increase and heightened her risk of suffering a heart attack.
Coroner Anderson heard how Mrs McCandless had her last three-hour dialysis on April 11, 2014, and was complaining of pain in her legs and wanted to go home.
Only three days later she suffered a heart attack at her home resulting in a coma.
She never recovered.
Speaking after the hearing Mr McCandless, an electrician, said his wife was "sorely missed". He smiled as he recalled the good times they had shared, including how proud she was - and how stunned he was - of her shoe and handbag collection.
"When we first moved in together she came with 99 pairs of shoes," he explained.
"My friend joked that she was a centipede. Tracey loved handbags and shoes, she would sneak them up the stairs.
"She was a good person, kind-hearted, caring and generous.
"She could never pass a homeless person without giving them a fiver.
"And she was good fun. She liked all sorts of music and she liked everything in its place, she was a perfectionist like that."
They met in a bar when he was struck by Tracey's mane of dark hair and infectious smile.
"Tracey was a beautiful woman, she was very good looking with her dimples, which she hated," he added.
"I really loved her. It was her ambition to have a baby, but it wasn't to be.
"I remember when she had signed up to do a three-mile fun run but then had to have her leg amputated, she was embarrassed about having to do it in a wheelchair, so I agreed to do it alongside her in one.
"She was the love of my life and vice versa.
Tracey broke the mould - she is sorely missed by so many people and there will never, ever be another one like her."
Coroner Anderson recorded a verdict of multiple complications caused by diabetes mellitus, and extended her sympathies to the family.
So far Mr McCandless has raised £2,300 for Kidney Research.
He will also be taking part in next year's Belfast Marathon. Donations can be made via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Colm-Mc-Candless1?utm_id=25