Amanda McMillan-Turnbull
Amanda McMillan-Turnbull

QLD newlywed struck with life-threatening ‘mystery illness’

WHEN Queensland bride Amanda McMillan-Turnbull walked down the aisle to marry the love of her life she had no idea that just four weeks later their vows 'in sickness and in health' and 'til death do us part' would be put to the test.

Ms McMillan-Turnbull, 36, went from celebrating the happiest day of her life on April 21 this year to fighting to stay alive when she was struck down with a life-threatening mystery illness.

The illness, which started with "shortness of breath and head cold" on May 11 and quickly worsened to the point Ms McMillan-Turnbull "fully knew [her] life was at risk", seemingly came out of nowhere.

Two days later she was "struggling to breath and panting" as the virus took hold and she was overcome by "acute respiratory distress". With the words "I do" still ringing in her ears, the mother of one was soon in a coma and hooked up to life support in an intensive care unit at Redcliffe Hospital.

"I was on life support for six days my family was told to prepare for the worst as nothing seemed to be stopping or slowing down the infection," Ms McMillan-Turnbull told news.com.au.

Her daughter Aria, 13, held a bedside vigil for her mother every day as she willed her to live.

"Aria visited every afternoon after school and would sit beside me in prayer," Ms McMillan-Turnbull said.

"She also constructed a shrine that consisted of prayer cards, a wedding photo, cross, a photo of her and I and my Alf doll that I've had since I was four years old."

Aria, 13, visiting her mother Amanda McMillan-Turnbull in hospital as she battled at mystery illness.
Aria, 13, visiting her mother Amanda McMillan-Turnbull in hospital as she battled at mystery illness.

Ms McMillan-Turnbull's new husband, Benjamin Turnbull, 34, also proved to be a pillar of strength.

"I was told [he] was sitting by my side when he wasn't doing a shift - bills still had to be paid - urging me to wake up," she said.

The Anglicare home care worker finally did just that.

"They [eventually] brought me out of the coma but I still remained intubated on the ventilator for a further two days while I slowly began to breathe more on my own," she said.

"The only thing I remember is mum asking my sister which Pete Murray song she should play...trying to pull my out of my coma."

Ben Turnbull and Amanda McMillan-Turnbull on their wedding day.
Ben Turnbull and Amanda McMillan-Turnbull on their wedding day.

While the doctors were unable to give Ms McMillan-Turnbull "a definitive answer" on what had caused her illness she said test results showed a "false positive... for breathing problems caused by a lice", according to her.

"[But] I had not been around any livestock," she said.

She is now on a slow road to recovery after being discharged from hospital on May 29.

"I had to learn to swallow again and walk," she said.

"I still have a numb right foot, and require a wheelie walker to get around.

"I have just begun to shower myself again, still [I need] some assistance."

Family and friends of Ms McMillan-Turnbull have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help aid her recovery and cover living expenses while she is physically unable to work.

"The couple, along with [Ms McMillan-Turnbull's] beautiful daughter, Aria, should have been enjoying the start of their new exciting life together but instead endured one of the toughest tests of strength and love," her stepbrother Phil Bawden wrote on the fundraiser page he created.

But for Ms McMillan-Turnbull, she's just happy to have the chance to pick up where she left off on her wedding day.

"[At our wedding] the bridesmaid sang for our first dance song and publicly announced our plans for Ben to adopt Aria," she said.

And it's a plan that has even more significance now than it did before.

"My greatest fear [when I was struck down with the mystery illness] was that Aria would be left without a mother," she said.

 

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin

 

Family members kept a vigil by Amanda McMillan-Turnbull’s hospital bed as she fought for her life.
Family members kept a vigil by Amanda McMillan-Turnbull’s hospital bed as she fought for her life.
Amanda McMillan-Turnbull and family on her wedding day.
Amanda McMillan-Turnbull and family on her wedding day.


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