Personal Stories: Francine Turner


My husband found this website as he waited five hours for me to come out of emergency surgery on Monday December 7th. I find it only fitting to send you this story on the first of the New Year 2010 for two reasons. The first being that against the odds I am here to actually write this story and the second is I needed to make sure I was actually able to get a grasp on what happened to me although between you and I, Iím not sure Iíll ever truly understand what happened or why I am still here to tell you about it). Here is my story: My name is Francine Turner, I am 49 years old and now at home recovering from thoracic aortic ascending dissection and told by more than one Doctor/Nurse lucky to be alive. I have two children a son 23 years old and a daughter 22. I have been active most of my life. I work out at the gym. I have been fortune to have been in the hospital only to have my children one in 1986, the other child in 1987 and a gallbladder removed in 1988.

I have suffered with asthma my entire life I use Advair to control it. I was actually born with asthma but other than what I have mentioned a pretty healthy medicine free life. January 2009 almost a year ago I was rushed to the hospital with an acute asthma attack (the first asthma attack that actually hospitalized me since I was 21 years old). During my short stay last year at the hospital I was diagnosed having an aortic aneurism of 4.5 centimeters (not really an asthma attack after all) . At 4.5 centimeters the insurance companies and Doctors donít touch aneurysms of that size unless they are leaking or life threading. After being released from the hospital, I have been to the doctor to check the status of the aneurysm, in April and October 2009 with no apparent change or growth to the aneurysm, until December 7th 2009.

I have been living a normal life so to speak with the knowledge that I do have this aneurysm but also being told I could live to be 80 years old and die from something totally different, but to always remember that should I get a sharp pain in my chest or between my shoulder blades to get to a hospital as quickly as possible as there might not be a lot of time. Monday December 7th started as any other day arriving at work around 7:30am. I went through the entire day no added stress (you see I run a large retail department store) and this time of the year can be stressful. I locked up my office around 5:30pm rather early for me but I had planned on going to the gym after work. I was almost out of the door going to the parking lot when all of a sudden I felt a sharp pain in my chest and shoulder blades it took my breath away. My arms and hands went numb I was clammy and weak I literally had to stop sit down and gather myself. I called my husband, told him what was happening. After a few minutes I was able to get myself focused and felt that I was able to drive myself home which was an hour away.

I called my husband on the way home and had him meet me at the exit which saved about 15 minutes. As soon as he saw me he immediately knew I was not right. White as a ghost and slurring my words he drove like a manic to Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach Fl. The same hospital I was treated and diagnosed last year with the aneurysm. They took me right away but all of the signs did not indicate that the aneurysm was to blame. My blood pressure dropped to 60/40, I had a pulse in my feet. My husband spoke to Doctor Carmichael and explained everything. Thank goodness Doctor Carmichael listened and decided to do an echo cardiogram where he immediately saw the dissection and within fifteen minutes I was in the operating room, no questions no choice. The Doctor told my husband I had 2-3 hours to live and a 50/50 chance in surgery.

They found from the echo cardiogram that the inner wall had ripped away from the aortic artery and went up into the valve. I now have a mechanical valve that when it is really quite you can hear tick, music to my ears. After surgery Doctor Carmichael came out and told my husband I was alive.

The next day after seeing the Doctor myself he said that I had at least one angel on my shoulder (you know yourself most Doctorís donít say things like that). I do believe from the moment this happened there was an angel on my shoulder. I donít know why I was chosen but I was given a second chance. The fact that I knew I had the condition; I had my husband there to speak for me when I couldnít and that the Doctors listened to what we had to say.

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