Urgent Care

(Dictated by Dru to Art on Oct. 4)


Where am I now at 9 p.m.? In urgent care. Again. Last week it was for a bunch of blood clots that had migrated from my swollen left leg to my heart and lungs. This time it was for acute shortness of breath plus a pulse of 130 beats per minute.


I’d had trouble breathing all day, exacerbated by a wretched cough and a waterfall of gunk running down the back of my throat straight to my stomach. Near the end of the afternoon it was a real struggle to breathe and, despite puffing on my inhaler, breathing grew progressively harder.


I’ve seen people in supermarkets and malls, dragging oxygen carts behind them like chains on Marley’s ghost.  I never thought much about what it’s like to fight for breath. I never thought about the air that blankets and comforts our planet so faithfully from one sunrise to the next.


Today I realized what it means to try to live without it. My chest tightened with each inhalation and held the air for only a second before squeezing and coughing it out. Then it tightened again.


As Art sped to urgent care, with me coughing and choking beside him, he suggested I try small regular breaths, counting each one til I reached ten. Although it helped redirect my focus from the land of panic, I found it surprisingly difficult to muffle my lunging thoughts that “this breath might be my last.”


Of course, it wasn’t.  But each small, ragged breath was followed by another painful one— and there was nothing I could do to make them larger or easier. Modern medicine can do many miraculous things but it seemed nothing could stop that cough.


Just inside urgent care, I slumped in a chair while Art planted himself in front of an intake person and spouted his best television lingo: “I’ve got a potential Code Blue here, pulmonary embolism last week, tonight acute shortness of breath and a pulse of 130. Need a doctor and a wheelchair stat!”  Love that man.


Now, an hour later, as I lie on a gurney in a screened-off alcove, Art is hunching in a chair beside me, scratching out this narrative in the notebook where he’s logged all my medicines for the last three months.


At last I found the cure! For the common cough? Yes. Ten minutes of pure oxygen inhaled through plastic tubes thrust an inch in my nostrils. Finally I can breathe!


Oh well, for the doctors and nurses it’s just another night in urgent care

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One Response to “Urgent Care”

  1. Katherine Kolody says:

    Dear Mrs. Campbell,

    I was grief-stricken upon learning that you are ill. I had no idea until today when I found your latest book on Amazon and then visited your author’s page. It devastates me to think that you, an angel who writes light into being, is physically compromised.

    I was a student of your husband at Cal Western; he was my Crim Law professor. I recall visiting his office once a week with many of my classmates to hear his great lectures on what we were studying in class.

    During those visits, I always studied his bookshelves, hoping to discover what magical books contributed to his success as a lawyer and a professor. However, I never could draw my eyes past your book, “Blood Orange.” Its bright colors and title allowed my eyes to go no further on their journey.

    One day, I had the chance to ask Professor Campbell about this book. He explained that his wife had written it and that I should read it sometime when I wasn’t completely embroiled in my first-year law studies.

    The first thing I did when I finished my last final during my first semester, I traveled to Grossmont Center (my childhood stomping ground) and purchased “Blood Orange” at Barnes & Noble. I read it within a day and I loved it. I was also hungry to read everything else you had written.

    Since then, I have read and re-read your other books, and I cannot wait to read “No Doubt.”

    Thank you for sharing your soul in every word of every book you write. Your words shine like a candle in the dark.

    With great respect,
    Katherine Kolody