Always Stay on Top of Your Health! by Brittany Hinsey
Hello! My name is Brittany Hinsey, and I am 23 years old. I am from Coral Springs, Florida. I have Turner syndrome (TS) and here's my story. First and foremost, I'll start when I was in the womb. I almost did not make it out alive because my mom was bedridden and at 35 weeks, she had a partial placenta hemorrhage and had an emergency C-section. Many babies with TS do not make it past birth.
As a toddler, I started having very bad ear infections and hearing loss. I got a set of ear tubes put in and had to wear ear plugs when I swam. When I started going to school, it was noticed that I was always shorter than my friends. I was diagnosed with Turner syndrome at the age of 9 when my parents saw I wasn't growing as much as my classmates. I was sent by my pediatrician for blood work and that's when they discovered I had it.
I was sent to an endocrinologist and a cardiologist to begin treatments and routine checkups. My endocrinologist gave me growth hormone shots that I did by myself at home. After going to the cardiologist, they discovered I had a bicuspid aortic valve which is common in TS. Due to my constant ear issues, I was also seen by an ENT specialist and had new ear tubes placed every couple of years.
At the age of 13, I had a near-death episode of pancreatitis. I complained of stomach pains for a week until I was hurled over at my soccer game and afterwards went to the ER. My count was at 4,000 when it should've been under 100. I was in the hospital for 5 days until they got the counts down. It was unclear if the growth hormone shots caused the pancreatitis, but I continued them. I had minor flare ups of pancreatitis until I stopped the shots at 15. I had been put on the estrogen patch and was switched onto the birth control pill because I did not get a period naturally.
I continued to follow up with all my doctors throughout high school. During my childhood what really kept me going was recreational soccer, and next - Broadway Theatre Camp. These helped my social skills immensely. In high school, I was in the drama club. Besides my drama friends, I really did not hang out with anyone outside of school and would struggle in social situations. I would mainly focus on my classes and ended up graduating in 2017.
I then found out I got accepted into Florida Gulf Coast University. I was so excited to go off to college! I knew it would be so good for me to grow and flourish into who I am today. I made the decision to join Greek life and ended up in the Chi Omega sorority. It was the best decision I ever made because I made friends for life. I feel I found my bridesmaids and forever friends. The college and sorority experience helped me learn how to socialize even more and helped me to formulate more organizational skills.
The first couple of years of college I noticed my blood pressure was high, so I alerted my cardiologist. I was put on 50mg of Losartan but it seemed to not do the trick. I sort of brushed it off and would continue taking it hoping it would work. When I saw the cardiologist, the echocardiograms always looked good. In November of 2019, my cardiologist wanted to get a CT scan of my heart, and everything was fine. My aorta was dilated a little bit, but he was going to monitor it.
Now it is December 2020, after a year of heartbreak with the pandemic. My mom was planning on calling my cardiologist due to my extremely high blood pressure. However, on December 19th I was rushed into the operating room for an aortic dissection repair. During recovery, I was on proper blood pressure medications trying to figure out which ones will work for me. I text my cardiologist and his PA blood pressure numbers every day.
When in recovery, I decided to do my last and final semester of college (Spring 2021) at home. Luckily, my university allowed me to take classes online. I ended up going back to school at the end of March because I wanted to finish my last 5 weeks with my friends. I graduated in May 2021 with a degree in public health and a minor in theatre.
Now it is January 2022, and I am working and waiting to hopefully start the ultrasound program at Broward College in June. I am blessed to be here to be able to share my story this Turner Syndrome Awareness Month. I feel it is so important to always stay on top of your health!