Young man started writing will during isolation on COVID ward

JUST four weeks ago, Craig Powe, 25, was isolated at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) battling COVID-19 for the second time and thinking he was going to die.

Powe, an entrepreneur, said he had never thought about a will until he was in the hospital room surrounded by other struggling patients and being struck by pain all over his body. And so, Powe said he started penning a will, certain that he wouldn’t have lived to see another day.

“I texted my mom telling her I’m dying. People are coughing beside me. I couldn’t sleep, someone right across from me looked like he was dead… it was just very scary. I started writing a will. I was actually dying. It was very scary. Actually, thinking about dying at 25 was scary,” Powe told the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview yesterday.

Citing the fact that his grandfather, Dr DK Duncan – former People’s National Party (PNP) politician – had died from the virus six months prior, Powe said the chances of living seemed unlikely.

Powe first contracted the virus late December 2020. He contracted the virus a second time in March of this year, and has said the experience the second time around was terrifying.

“This thing [novel coronavirus] is real. The first time, I was coughing, I had high fever, I couldn’t really do much work and I was just miserable at home. The pain that I had the second time around was a different pain. That was a life-threatening pain. I couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes without feeling my whole body burning, and feeling like I’m being stabbed in my legs and knees. At one point I was driving to my uncle’s house and I felt like I was going to crash the car.”

Powe said he hopes more young people will be more inclined to take the COVID-19 vaccine after hearing his story.

“Get vaccinated. Too much anti-vax messages are out there. People really don’t understand that we’re dying. If I had regular COVID, I would’ve taken the vaccine a week later. But because it was so severe, I have to wait. If I take it now, as someone who was very sick, I will just relapse. It’s not worth the risk currently. But I will take the vaccine as soon as I am cleared by the doctors,” he said.

“People don’t really understand how bad it is. There are just so many things that people are not thinking about. It is just not pleasant – being in the hospital and seeing people dying. Old people and a lot of young people were there. And then your family can’t visit you in the hospital. I remembered how my grandfather died alone. My grandfather died a few days after I got him a tablet so we could talk to him,” said Powe.

In addition, he said the second time contracting the virus caused erectile dysfunction (ED).

Powe said he began noticing that he wasn’t getting an erection, which troubled him a great deal as a young male who had no such problems before.

“At the time [I noticed that I was] not getting the morning [erection]; I can’t really do anything and I’m not having as much impulses or sexual stuff like I used to.

“I just started noticing that my penis wasn’t really standing up. And even after I started recovering, it was still a problem. I had friends who were telling me not to worry. They were saying in two to three months I’ll be fine because they had the same problem after COVID. That’s when I started recognising what it was, and I started googling it. It made sense,” Powe said.

On Tuesday, Powe uploaded an unfiltered video on social media, revealing that he suffers from erectile dysfunction as a result of COVID-19. He said he was then contacted by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who commended him for his courage.

“I actually never met Dr Tufton before, or spoke with him on the phone until that day,” Powe said.

Subsequently, Tufton shared Powe’s video on his Twitter account with the caption: “It takes a big man to share his story. Thank you Craig for using your experience to educate others. Praying for your full recovery.”

But afterwards, Powe said he started noticing a lot of negative comments from people accusing him of lying, just to push the COVID-19 vaccine.

“People were saying I was paid to say it. Why would I do that? I can’t even go somewhere now without a security guard making some comment about my situation. There is a consequence and I am facing it right now. I am not an agent of the JLP [Jamaica Labour Party]. I am a freethinking human being who believes in vaccinating people. I care about vaccinations, and I want the Government to win this fight. Any good-thinking person would want our Government to win. I’m not paid,” he told the Observer.

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