Tina Turner reveals how she signed up for assisted suicide but her husband's 'gift of love' changed her mind
In the book, she has discussed the repercussions of her failing health on her life as well as going so far off the edge that she thought about death.
Legendary singer Tina Turner has certainly let a lot of things off her chest in her memoir, 'My Love Story'. In the book, she has discussed the repercussions of her health on her life as well as going so far off the edge that she thought about death.
She had a stroke in October 2013 just three months after her wedding to Erwin Bach. "I woke up and felt a lightning bolt strike my head and right leg. I tried to speak but I couldn’t get any words out," she said, "I was having a stroke." After she was out of harm's way, she felt that the mental trauma of the incident was much greater than the physical ones. "The stroke had delivered a powerful blow to my body: my entire right side was numb. I’d have to work with a physiotherapist to learn how to walk again, the doctor told me, and using my right hand would be a problem. But the psychological effects were even more profound. I was miserable. The battle for recovery left me with no strength or vitality."
She was also struggling with high blood pressure and the doctors suspected that it may be affecting her kidneys. "Dr Jorg Bleisch, an expert nephrologist, broke the news that my kidneys were performing at only 35 per cent of their normal function," she said, "We’d need to monitor them carefully, he said, prescribing yet more medication to control my blood pressure. What I didn’t realize was that there were bigger battles ahead."
She soon grew weary of the constant medication and she believed that they made her groggy and slow. "Battles that would leave me wondering: ‘How did I go from being the picture of health, a cover girl, a bride for God’s sake, to this?’ After a while, I began to resent the drugs I was taking to control my high blood pressure — I was certain they were making me feel less clear-headed and energetic. So when a friend recommended a homeopathic doctor in France, I decided to put my faith in another kind of healing." This move, however, would be a devastating move for her health.
Dr Bleisch, her specialist found out on another checkup after the experiment that her kidneys had actually been destroyed. She writes in the memoir that she didn't expect it at all - she had been feeling much better. "He seemed shocked and incredulous. My failure to treat my high blood pressure, he told me, had essentially destroyed my kidneys. If I’d known that unmanaged high blood pressure could accelerate kidney damage, of course, I wouldn’t have traded my medication for homeopathic alternatives. As it was, the consequences of my ignorance ended up being a matter of life and death."
She also writes that she had earlier been diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1969 by a homeopathic doctor. This time, however, she had something much worse. " Not long after this blow, my health began to fail again. I became so weak that I couldn’t leave the house; it took all my strength to stagger between bedroom and bathroom. This time, I was diagnosed with early-stage intestinal cancer — a carcinoma and several malignant polyps. As I waited for surgery, I cried to Erwin: ‘Aren’t you sorry you married an old woman? A month after my diagnosis, I had part of my intestine removed. The doctors were optimistic and I felt a glimmer of hope again. But just a glimmer, and only for a moment."
"By December 2016, my kidneys were at a new low of 20 percent and plunging rapidly. And I faced two choices: either regular dialysis or a kidney transplant. Only the transplant would give me a very good chance of leading a near-normal life. But the chances of getting a donor kidney were remote." The doctor suggested getting her on dialysis again. "Oh no, no, no,’ I told him. ‘I’m not living on a machine.’ It wasn’t my idea of life. But the toxins in my body had started taking over. I couldn’t eat. I was surviving, but not living. I began to think about death. If my kidneys were going, and it was time for me to die, I could accept that. It was OK. When it’s time, it’s really time. I didn’t mind the thought of dying, but I was concerned about how I would go."
Tina who lives in Switzerland even signed up for assisted suicide. She signed up for the process but it was Erwin that changed her mind, she wrote in her memoir. "I think that’s when the idea of my death became a reality for Erwin. He was very emotional about not wanting to lose me, not wanting me to leave. He said he didn’t want another woman or another life; we were happy and he’d do anything to keep us together. Then he shocked me. He said that he wanted to give me one of his kidneys."
"His offer to give me his kidney was a gift of love, and he remained unflappable and relaxed. Next, there were medical tests to determine our compatibility, and we got the encouraging news that we shared the same type A blood group. Meanwhile, all I could hear was the clock ticking. I couldn’t afford to lose a bit of my strength, energy or courage." This was a glimmer of hope when the doctors found out something else - her heart was weak and they didn't know if it could survive the transplant.
"The muscle was enlarged and the vessels calcified. There was some question about whether a weak heart could withstand the stress of surgery. But ultimately our big day was scheduled: April 7, 2017. Two operating theatres were prepared — one for the donor and one for the recipient — two surgical teams, two of everything. Erwin’s operation took place first. While I was understandably anxious about the transplant, I was far more concerned about him. After about an hour, it was my turn. When I awoke, I was so groggy that everything — lights, sounds, smatterings of conversation, visits from doctors and nurses — felt dream-like.
The healing process was just as tough for her, she revealed. "My body keeps trying to reject the new kidney, which is not uncommon after a transplant. This means I have to take strong doses of immunosuppressants to weaken my antibodies and prevent them from attacking an organ they don’t recognize. Sometimes, the treatment — which causes dizziness, forgetfulness and anxiety — involves spending more time in the hospital.
"But I’m still here. We’re both still here, closer than we ever imagined — and that’s cause for celebration. After so many years of being frightened and sick, I was reveling in the sheer joy of being alive." The book is to be published by Century on October 18 at £20.