Survivor of COVID-19 makes the most of his second chance at life

Difficulty breathing, brain fog and fatigue – these are just some of the symptoms that can appear months after the initial COVID-19 infection.

“Joint pain, bone pain, abdominal pain. We are learning a lot about the consequences of COVID,” said Dr. Charles Modlin of Metro Hospital.

Many who survived their attack with the virus are now suffering from the so-called COVID-19 Long Haul Syndrome.

Jae Williams spent 54 days in the hospital; 24 of them he was in a coma.

“I went in with 37. I’m the only one alive,” Williams said.

Williams said that, like the coronavirus, its aftereffects disproportionately affect communities of color.

“We are afraid to express what we are going through,” he said.

With so many of his fellow black and brown long-haul carriers suffering in silence, Williams said he knew he had to do something.

“This radio station is a platform to help change the lives of our community,” Williams said.

This weekend, Williams, along with WOVA 95.9, will host a celebration that will give people with persistent symptoms access to resources that can lead to relief.

“It brings light to the survivors of the coronavirus. They get the chance to talk about what’s going on in their bodies. They get a chance to come in and be around real doctors they can touch,” Williams said.

This fall, the Cleveland Foundation awarded Burten, Bell, Carr Development, owner of WOVU, a $60,000 grant to raise awareness in the African American community.

There are currently more than a dozen public service announcements on the air.

According to Dr. Modlin’s outreach is much needed in communities of color.

“We want to teach people how to recognize these long-term COVID-19 symptoms — what to do about it,” Modlin said.

The need for knowledge must go beyond just patients, Modlin said.

“More needs to be done to better educate health care providers about COVID-19 Long Haul syndrome,” Modlin said.

Modlin said some doctors unwittingly dismiss symptoms associated with the syndrome, making patients even more reluctant to come forward.

“We as health care providers recognize that these symptoms are real, they are not imaginary,” Modlin said.

Data shows that up to a third of people infected with COVID may experience these long-lasting symptoms — even children.

“It can predispose individuals to developing new diseases of the lungs, kidneys, heart — diabetes, for example,” Modlin said.

That’s a possible one-two punch for the likes of Williams, who battled a deadly virus and then took on a new set of challenges.

“Want to see a miracle? Look at me. I’m a miracle,” Williams said.

Williams said he was making the most of his second chance at life.

“That’s why I’m doing this, doing this with every fiber of my mind,” Williams said.

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