A few times a month, Elizabethtown (KY) resident Kristy Hope Turner can be found at Hardin County Public Library attending crafting classes, making birthday cards or repurposing old books.
The activities help her cope with her illnesses, which include a terminal immune system disease. “When I was diagnosed summer of 2010, I was at death’s door,” Turner said.
At the time, she was told to make funeral arrangements because she would not make it out of the hospital. “Not many people can say at 34 years old they had their funeral prepared,” Turner said.
Her lungs had collapsed and, at one point, she had three tubes running out of her chest at the same time. She suffered from three strains of pneumonia. “I was in the hospital for 51 days,” Turner said. “I also was born with a rare chromosomal disorder that didn’t get detected until I was 21.”
Because of that disorder, she said, she was born with coarctation of the aorta, a congenital heart defect, which was diagnosed in 2008. She had to have open heart surgery December of that year.
Additionally, Turner suffers from fibromyalgia, neuropathy, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis and migraines. In April of last year, Turner shattered her wrist. She reached her lowest point, she said, but she clung to her faith. “I got to a very dark spot,” she said.
Turner found herself becoming very sedentary and she didn’t like it. “I was like, ‘I got to do something to get myself out of here,’” she said.
A friend, Kristy Brennan, found out about a crafting class at the Hardin County Public Library and suggested Turner attend. Having done some crafting in the past, Turner agreed. She hasn’t looked back.
“I began focusing on the things I could do and not what I couldn’t do any longer,” Turner said. Turner attends a crafting class in the library’s community room, which she described as “very comfortable,” about three times a month. “It’s a good amount,” she said. “It’s not too little, and it’s not too much.”
Just over a week ago, Turner attended a stamping class in which she made two birthday cards. Before that, it was a class making a project by repurposing old books. “I got back into reading as a result of being here,” Turner said.
Although she is limited in how much activity she can engage in, Turner, who is now 39, has experienced a revitalization of sorts. She calls the crafting classes the “starting point.” The creativity of making the crafts and being able to make something from “basically nothing” are enjoyable to her and have helped her undergo an “attitude adjustment,” she said.
Brennan made a similar comment. “It definitely helped her think in a positive attitude,” Brennan said. “And I also think it helped her keep things in perspective.”
Brennan said Turner managed to change her outlook and now seems always to be positive. Brennan described her friend of 10 years as someone with a good heart who genuinely cares about others.
“She’s always someone good to talk to because she always makes you feel good about yourself,” Brennan said. The dark days seem behind Turner, but they are a memory she recalls affecting not only her, but her parents. “It was very hard for them to hear I was dying,” Turner said.
A 1994 Central Hardin High School graduate, Turner said she has, in the past, enjoyed volunteering for numerous organizations and programs including Hardin County Habitat for Humanity, United Way and Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child.
Faith remains a big part of her life, and she is “very active” with her church, Roundtop Baptist. Despite what the future holds, Turner feels her life has a specific purpose.
“If I can use what I’ve gone through to encourage someone, it’s worth it,” she said