The woman, who had been dealing with extreme exhaustion and nonstop headaches, blamed her problems on a stressful schedule. At the time, she had two jobs, one during the week with the housing authority and on the weekend with the parks and recreation department. Unfortunately, the stress led her to overeat and she gained weight. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure a year before. One day, while she was relaxing in her front yard, her sister called her on FaceTime because her 2-year-old daughter wanted to speak with her favorite aunt.
The 51-year-old woman from Ohio, Dawn Turnage, told the American Heart Association that she enjoys talking with her 2-year-old niece Naomi and her sister April. But, on that day in 2015, she says the timing was not good, because she felt exhausted and even called her friend on her drive home so she wouldn’t fall asleep.
The then-44-year-old woman also said that she had been dealing with extreme exhaustion and nonstop headaches. During the day, she would drink sodas, hoping they would help her feel better. Unfortunately, Dawn also started dropping things, and her vision worsened.
According to KTBS3, Dawn reportedly blamed her problems on a stressful schedule. At the time, Dawn had two jobs, one during the week with the housing authority and on the weekend with the parks and recreation department. Unfortunately, the stress led her to overeat and she gained weight. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure a year before.
While she was talking with her niece on FaceTime, the little girl reportedly asked: “TeTe, why is your face crooked?” Naomi asked. “What do you mean?” she replied. The 2-year-old girl asked the same question again, pointing to the screen.
Dawn’s sister, April, who is a physician assistant, heard her daughter and went to see for herself. April reportedly noticed that the right side of her sister’s mouth was turned down, making her face look lopsided. April feared that Dawn was having a stroke so she called their other sister, Damika, who lived nearby, to help.
The woman then went to the hospital and after running tests, the medical personnel reportedly told her she’d had several TIAs, or transient ischemic attacks. These occur when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain for a short time. The doctors also told her that she is “very lucky” to not have lasting complications from the mini-strokes, which can be a warning sign of a full-blown stroke, the American Heart Association reports.
Luckily, Turnage immediately changed her diet and began walking regularly. Just 3 years later, the brave woman took a job as head of the parks and recreation department, becoming her hometown’s first African American female to hold that title.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dawn said that she “fell out of her exercise routine”. But, last year, she renewed her efforts to exercise, including indoor cycling classes twice a week, and started making healthier meal choices. Dawn also told the AHA that she is on a mission to educate others, especially underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
“It’s important to me that the African American community is aware of their health. They need to have screenings and know what their numbers are as well as know the warning signs for cardiovascular disease.” she reportedly said.