Hospice patient exceeds predictions: ‘I don’t give up’
Tim Campbell with the cake given to him by Nurse Laura Sutphin to celebrate a year in Hospice.
When Tim Campbell was just 43, he was diagnosed with
congestive heart failure and wasn't expected to live but a few more years.
Today at 62 -- after years of "every heart medicine and
procedure you can think of" -- Campbell was finally referred by another health
system to Reid
Hospice and given about three weeks to live. That was a year ago.
"Nothing's going to get me down," Campbell says of how he
has so frequently proved predictions wrong about the timing of his demise.
Though he has always been pretty determined, his wife, Penny, says he wasn't
always able to boast such a positive attitude because of his constant health
issues. She credits the care he's received from Reid Health Hospice with a
She says his condition was touch and go for what seemed an
eternity after he developed numerous complications following an operation to
put in a heart pump in 2017. He has had ablations. He was on a transplant list
until an issue with his lung knocked him off of it. He took maximum doses of
every medication they could try. He was in and out of the hospital because of
complications and infections.
"They'd done all the technology," Penny says. With all the
treatments, hospital stays, infections and challenges, she knew her husband's
attitude wasn't so positive when the hospice referral came just over a year
ago. At the time, they were taking it day by day and crying a lot.
Would this be his last day? After family connected with the
Reid Hospice team and Chaplain David Daniels, she says they began encouraging
him. His attitude began to shift. "He seemed to improve. He was more confident
and more mentally aware." Complications settled.
At the time, they lived in an apartment and he was pretty
much restricted to a bedroom. As he stabilized and even improved, they found
and purchased a house where today he likes to sit on the porch every day.
The family developed strong connections to their caregivers,
including Hospice Nurse Laura Sutphin. "She doesn't just come in and check him.
She is like family to us. They all keep his spirits up. His whole attitude has
changed. When we were first told, it was like a death sentence every day. We
now go days without even thinking about anybody dying."
Sutphin says when
she first met Tim, he had to take handfuls of medicines each day, was weak and
unable to do much around his apartment. "He was falling and passing out." The
team worked to adjust his medicines, improve his appetite and build his
strength. "He started feeling a little better," and continued to improve.
When he reached the
first- year anniversary of Hospice care, Sutphin brought him a cake to
celebrate the unexpected milestone.
Robert Fleming, M.D., cardiology, says Tim's is
"an amazing story of longstanding heart failure that become quite severe in 2017,
despite optimal medical management." Dr. Fleming was able to get him into a
program for the implantation of a heart pump "that kept him going, despite
concerning arrhythmias." Dr. Fleming says he's not surprised at how Tim keeps
beating the odds. "He is a testament to the human spirit, the will to live, and
is grateful for the extended time he has been given. He has enriched our lives
with his positive attitude, humility and the occasional fishing story. He
reminds us to embrace each day with hope and kindness and to live in the
Tim Campbell says he realizes his overall health will never
get a lot better, but is thankful for how well he is doing a year after being
given such a short time to live. He also realizes how important his attitude to
keep going has helped him far exceed the expectations for his health. "When I
put my mind to something, I don't give up," he says.
says no one offers any estimates on how much time he has left anymore.
"Nobody's tried to guess. My time will come when it's time to come. I do what I
can do, though I can't do a lot. I run out of breath too easy. My strength is
not like it used to be."
Penny says they appreciate how far he's come in
a year. "We always lived with death on our minds. We are not feeling that
anymore, every day. Do you know what a joy that is?"
"We always lived with death on our minds. We are not feeling that anymore, every day. Do you know what a joy that is?" -- Penny Campbell
(Top photo: Nurse Laura Sutphin with Tim)