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Lib Dem Senedd candidate goes from being in ICU with Covid to doing 5k runs

28 Jan 2021 5 minute read
Williams Powell on leaving Nevill Hall Hospital 7th May 2020

A Liberal Democrat Senedd candidate has gone from being put into ICU because of Covid-19 to doing 5k runs.

William Powell, who spent several weeks unconscious and on a ventilator because of the deadly virus, bounced back to beat Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds to become the candidate seat of Brecon and Radnorshire in a shock result.

The former member of what was the Welsh Assembly for Mid and West Wales between 2011 and 2016, was unable to lift his arm, speak or take showers himself initially after coming off the ventilator, but has now recovered to such a degree he is able to run 5k.

He said he was able to overcome the virus thanks to support from the “amazing” Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, and his “fantastic” physio.

The married father of two also paid tribute to the support that was given to his family while he was in ICU.

He also revealed that the first get well card he received came from UKIP MS Neil Hamilton, who replaced him in the Senedd in 2016, and his wife Christine.

When Covid took hold, he said he was “knocked out for six” and “was consigned to bed” until his wife, who “concluded that things weren’t going well” got in touch with a local GP who decided that he need to go to hospital.

Mr Powell told Nation.Cymru: “I was bundled off to the GP in Crickhowell on the 26th at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon and before the evening was out I was in ICU, signed various documents and I was in the hands of the wonderful health service.

“I’m always conscious that there are people that come out the other door. I was in from the 26th of March until the 7th of May, three weeks in ICU, two weeks plus in the induced coma on a ventilator, then coming off that.”

‘Couldn’t tolerate’ 

He added: “When I came off it, I couldn’t sustain the various pipe work. I couldn’t tolerate that apparently. I wasn’t consciously resisting, it was a sort of reflex, and then that’s when the tracheotomy kicked in, in the neck and the direct source of oxygen.”

He added: “Then for the next phase, that’s the tricky one in a way, coming back around. Then I had three weeks of rehab, a fantastic level of support, from being a complete mess in the initial days, not being able to lift my arm or stand up or speak to a situation where I was kind of able to gradually move towards going for showers, going about my needs, and then having fantastic physio.

“Nye Bevan Health Board has been amazing really. They’ve given that certain cadre of survivors as such that had been in ICU and those who were up for it and able to do it, we got plugged into a course once or twice a week, as often as could be possible in the leisure village at Newport.

“I went there between June and early August and then again from the 1st of September through until early December. The personal trainer has kept us going and I’ve taken up 5k running which I’ve evaded in the previous 50 years. I do that three times a week, and it’s my kind of discipline at the moment.

“I’ve engaged in enough abuse of my system in the previous decades and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

‘Aches and pains’ 

He said: “I’ve got aches and pains and I don’t feel great occasionally, but I had the severity and I’ve been in the position to do something about it and to build my capacity back up. I suppose I’m about 90 per cent there. In other ways I’ve got a more active lifestyle, which has been forced on me to an extent, and that I’ve then run with.

“When you have that kind of encounter with the Grim Reaper or whatever, you kind of, well I don’t know, you’ve got a great sense of gratitude.

“When I was in hospital, I went through a phase, and I’ve been told it’s not uncommon, there were phases when I was quite emotional, and emotional at the kindness of others as well.

“My wife and two boys, they’re 25 and 18, the kindness they were cocooned by in my local area at the most intensive period, and I was asleep. It was quite extraordinary.

“This phone that I have in my hand was brought back to me, and then when it fired up, because I sent a last text to Ria my wife and just said ‘I’m off into ICU. I don’t know where this is heading’ and then 20 or 25 days later something like that it was brought back to life and then of course it was full of messages, attempted messages, and it felt like reading my own obituary in a way. It was extraordinary.

“The first get well card that I received came from Neil and Christine Hamilton, my nemesis. But it was a lovely card, and I was extremely grateful. I cried like a baby then.”

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