Jessica Tanamachi, registered nurse, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, was used to caring for other people. As a nurse, wife, mother of six and a student in the process of obtaining her master’s degree in health care administration, caring was already part of her daily routine. However, what was supposed to be a regular Monday at work turned into a day that changed her life.
During a team huddle she experienced a seizure, causing her body to shut down and lose consciousness. Her colleagues immediately called a “code blue,” which meant she was undergoing respiratory and cardiac arrest.
Jessica was experiencing a medical emergency, and her life was in jeopardy. Surrounded by her physician and nurse colleagues, she was rushed to the Emergency Department at Long Beach Medical Center, where a computerized tomography (CT) scan discovered that she had a subarachnoid hemorrhage – extensive bleeding in the space between her brain and tissue.
From there, Jessica was placed under the care of the team at the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Long Beach Medical Center. The team at the Comprehensive Stroke Center are experts in neurological conditions and provide multidisciplinary care. They determined that Jessica’s bleeding was caused by a ruptured blood vessel in her brain (aneurysm bleed) and decided to perform a coil embolization. This minimally invasive procedure inserts a catheter into the groin artery, where it then travels into the affected brain artery and the coil is deployed to restore blood flow back into the brain.
After the procedure, Jessica was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where she stayed for 14 days. She spent 10 of those days in an induced coma to avoid additional stress to the body. When she woke up, she had no idea what had happened to her or how she got there. She later learned about the care her colleagues provided to not only her but to her family as well.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, her family was not able to visit her. While she was in an induced coma, her care teams would regularly update her family about her progress and treatments. The team made sure there was a clear line of communication and that her family could always come to them, even after she woke up.
“We were there rooting for her from day one,” says Dr. Mojtaba Sabahi, M.D., internal medicine specialist, Long Beach Medical Center. “Seeing her make significant progress each day made us confident for a full recovery.”
Her care team not only cared for her physical needs, but her spiritual ones as well. During her stay, Patrick Harriman, registered nurse, Intensive Care Unit, Long Beach Medical Center, arranged for a chaplain to come to her room to renew her and her husband’s 10-year marriage vows.
“It was because of the compassionate care that I received from so many staff members that I felt safe and deeply cared for,” says Jessica.
When Jessica was discharged, she knew her journey to recovery would be long journey but had faith in the support from her care team and family. Once home, instead of caring for her patients, she was the one being cared for.
“At home I needed 24/7 care since I couldn’t be left alone,” says Jessica. “I needed help eating, combing my hair and even dressing myself. I had to use a walker, wheelchair and shower chair. I battled constant headaches and sensitivity to light and noise. It was a complete shock for my family.”
With her family and care team’s motivation and support, she was finally able to get back on her feet. On Sept. 8, 2020, less than four months after her incident, Jessica returned to work. She now has complete restoration of her physical and mental capabilities and considers herself fully functioning again.
“The physicians and nurses, with their exceptional reflexes and expertise, saved my life. I am so thankful each day for my colleagues at Long Beach Medical Center. I am so proud to know that I have the privilege to work with such exceptional people,” says Jessica. “The best part is, I know that they would treat anybody who walked (or wheeled) through their doors just like me – with the same compassion and desire to get them back on their feet.”
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