I Decided to Pursue My Dream - by Tammy Pullen
Hi, my name is Tammy Pullen and my story is fairly normal. I was average as a child; there were no red flags except some ear infections. I ended up having mastoid surgery in my right ear at 6 years old.
It was life as usual until I reached the age of puberty, and nothing happened. We thought at first, I was just a “late bloomer”, although I was quite short and had a few outward characteristics. At 16, a health teacher convinced my mother to take me for a consult with a gynecologist. He examined me, ordered karyotype testing, and confirmed, I had classic Turner Syndrome (TS). Not much was none in the early 80’s but they were able to start me on hormone replacement at 16 and I did start developing.
It wasn’t until I was married at 25 and moved to Virginia that I realized there were health risks involved with Turner syndrome. My gynecologist referred me to a cardiologist and ordered some kidney function testing. Luckily, there were no surprises, and I was completely stable.
I lived my life; I held down a job. I was able to go to school and pass the state boards for my cosmetology license. I had a few issues with anxiety and minor depression, but I managed. I did well until I hit my 30’s. I had to be started on a thyroid medication for hypothyroidism and got in with an amazing endocrinologist.
At the age of 37, my heart started giving me issues. I always had a bicuspid aortic valve and murmur, but that progressed, and I developed an aneurysm in my ascending aorta. I had my first open heart surgery in September of 2004, and it was a success. I was released six days later and healed perfectly.
While I was recovering, I decided to pursue my dream of getting a degree in social services. It was challenging, especially since I am very inept in math and needed college algebra for the degree. However, I did it! I hired a tutor for math and with lots of tears of joy as well as frustration I achieved my Associate of Social Sciences.
I have been happily married to a wonderful and supportive husband for 30 years now. I’ve worked in different positions in the social service field. I enjoy my family and the coast of Maine a great deal. It’s not the “perfect” life. I would have enjoyed children; we didn’t have any. I wish I was taller, but who doesn’t wish they could change little things?
My point is, I live a very fulfilled and happy life and I am truly blessed to be the person I am today. I hope to spread more awareness of Turner syndrome and encourage more women and caregivers to ADVOCATE for care. By spreading the word and educating yourself, you can truly make anything possible. I am heading into my second open heart surgery in March and I know I will be just fine. Turner Syndrome women are definitely warriors!