Pris Campbell

Disappearance

She was my head nurse on a treatment unit for psychiatric patients. In the course of our work we became as close as sisters. When she developed breast cancer with heavy spread into the lymph nodes, I was devastated but not surprised. She lit one cigarette from the last one throughout those days before smoking was banned. Her doctor told her to put her affairs in order but she refused. Somehow she beat it, feeling that it was cured by her mind and the continued smoking didn’t matter.

Stubborn as a Mule

I remember my mother referring to me from early childhood on as “stubborn as a mule.” That trait has held me in good stead when dealing with authority figures or doctors who have tried to talk me into doing something I knew wasn’t right.

The event I remember most, though, comes from my grammar school years. A girl in our class was “retarded” (the term used then), as was her mother. She came to school with her hair uncombed, clothes dirty, and wearing no underpants. Each day at recess a group of boys encouraged her to go on the hanging bars so they could run under and look up her dress.

The Scales Fall Off

I grew up in a tiny town the Deep South in the 1950s. Racism was everywhere, but I was too young to know there was another way. “Colored people” (the term used then) had their own waiting room at the doctor’s office. They had a separate entrance and sat in the balcony at the movie theater. They were never seen downtown; it was an unwritten rule that blacks could only be downtown if they were performing menial labor there.
The “colored people” all lived in one section of town, where they became “n*****s” when drunks drove through, throwing bottles and cans and laughing. I’m grateful I was taught that that was very wrong.

The Spanish Flu Hits Home

I’m very sensitive to contagious illness; I have an almost nonfunctioning immune system. Even before the coronavirus, I wore masks on my limited outings and washed my hands often, telling people who were sick to come see me when well. But that’s not the story I want to tell.
At age twelve, my mother was hit by the flu of 1918, but recovered. When the same flu hit even more ferociously in 1919, she was the only one well in the home, due to her immunity. Her parents, grandparents and the three of her five sibs still living there all got sick.

Together Through the Rainbow Bridge

Pris Campbell

About the artist:

Pris Campbell has created graphics for haiga and has twice been published in Pulse. She was a clinical psychologist before ME/CFS rended her housebound. She makes her home with her husband in the Greater West Palm Beach area.

About the artwork:

“This is the last morning my husband spent with our cat before Spike crossed the Rainbow Bridge. The death of a beloved pet is like losing a member of the family, so this was a heartbreaking time.”

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

Turning to the New

A former clinical psychologist and sailor, I’ve had myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) since 1990 and have been almost completely housebound, with both neurological and immune system symptoms, all of that time. ME/CFS is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. While each year has come with more than its share of difficulties, this past year was loaded with extensive dental work, back problems, and extended voice loss (I also have muscle tension dysphonia).

 
I had a small break and hoped nothing further would hit when suddenly a bout of vertigo pinned me down and has left me holding onto things in order to move across a room. My survival mantra is “this, too, shall pass,” and I give thanks to wiser teachers than myself in attempting to let that mantra sustain me.

 

A Different Kind of Holiday

 
Ever since I was hit hard with myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatique syndrome, the illness so eloquently portrayed by Jen Brea in the film Unrest, the holidays have been very different for me. Gone are the holiday gatherings, the caroling with friends and neighbors, the concerts. My body is too weak to attend any of these festivities, and the sound makes me dizzy within a very short time. I’ve been mostly housebound these 27 years.
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