Patient Shares Harrowing COVID-19 Battle and Urges Vaccination

A raspy voice from an ICU bed narrates the scene: “The cough is ungodly … unbearable … makes you think you are going to pass out, lose conscious[ness] … you are so dizzy, lightheaded and confused.” Travis Campbell, the man behind the voice, shared his harrowing battle with COVID-19 on social media for many weeks. In another scene, a visibly tired Campbell struggles to speak as he receives supplemental oxygen, warning others to choose a good doctor and settle their affairs if they choose not to be vaccinated.

Campbell, a 43-year-old father from Bristol, Va., was unvaccinated when he was admitted to Bristol Regional Medical Center, a Tennessee hospital that’s part of Ballad Health. In a post on July 25, Campbell wrote, “I have never been this sick in my life!! My whole family has COVID. I truly regret not getting the vaccine.” Although he believes he likely infected his wife and children, their symptoms were not as severe — a testament to how varied COVID-19 infection can be from person to person. Campbell also figured he was less likely to contract the virus because he lives in a rural area.

During his hospital stay, Campbell says his care was second to none. In his video posts, he describes the exhaustion he sees in his doctors and nurses and called them “the greatest heroes.” Ballad Health shared Campbell’s story on its social media channels. And while the videos can be difficult to watch, they hint at the power of social media and misinformation in vaccine hesitancy. Campbell posted, “I realize I could have prevented this. … It’s time to be rational and protective. It’s not worth being stubborn like I did.”

Campbell’s posts showed his improvement, and he was discharged from the hospital on Aug. 12. His story has reached people all over the world, according to his wife, Kellie. He knows some unvaccinated individuals will not be so fortunate. “I just want everyone to clearly understand that if you don’t get vaccinated, the chances of you dying are through the roof,” Campbell explained. “If they only had a clue what half of this was, “there’s not a way, in anyone’s right mind, they wouldn’t run and get a vaccination.”