Q: Tell us a little about yourself?
A: My name is Tracie Turner and I am a 42 year old African American woman. I currently live in Baltimore, Maryland. I love talking about heart disease and it means so much to me to share my story.
Q: What were your warning signs?
A: My story started when I was 32. I worked at a local college and it became difficult to walk from one end of the campus to another without loss of breathe. I complained to my family about tingling and numbness in my left arm and my aunt always advised me to get it checked because it just didn’t sound right to her. I brushed it off because I was young, healthy, (or so I thought) energetic, and had the mind frame, nothing could possibly be wrong with me.
Q: When did you go into cardiac arrest?
A: I had my son in December of 2003, and during delivery, I went into cardiac arrest. I knew nothing until I woke. My family knew something was wrong because the bells went off in the delivery room and they watched a team of doctors and nurses rush in.
Q: What was the aftermath?
A: After all was said and done, I was advised that I needed to see a cardiologist. I didn’t have a clue about a heart doctor, so I went to my internal doctor who informed me after a series of tests that I had Congestive Heart Failure. Well, I didn’t even know what that was, so he introduced me to his friend…a cardiologist, who in turn advised me that I not only have Congestive Heart failure, but with severe Cardiomyopathy. I was lost. I had my son in December; I had mitral valve replacement surgery in April, a defibulator inserted in my left breast in September, 3 mini strokes in November, and a stroke in March. It has been a series of month long hospital stays ever since.
Q: How has the American Heart Association impacted you?
A: My life changed when an American Heart Association representative came into my hospital room at Sinai Hospital and spoke with me. The first thing she said to me was, “You’re the youngest person on this floor”. We began to speak and she talked to me about The American Heart Association and what they do. I was so impressed that I came home and looked them up to start volunteering. The American Heart Association inspired me to lead a healthier lifestyle. When I tell my story to people that stare at the scars on my chest I always tell them about the American Heart Association. You guys rock and I thank you for all you have done for me. You’ve helped me, so I can help someone else. I hope that I can help in any way, big or small, just get the word out.