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Because of Siskin Hospital, I can thrive!

May 11, 2021

Tiffany Garigan started her workday as a Medicare/Medicaid estates recovery case manager feeling just as fine as a 23-year-old should feel. Never could she foresee that she would end her day in the hospital with two hours to live.

When Tiffany told her co-workers that she was beginning to feel ill and thought she’d better go home, they could see something was seriously wrong. Concerned for her safety, they prevailed on her to stay put and called 911. The EMTs resuscitated Tiffany once in the ambulance as it sped towards Northside Hospital in Atlanta. A second resuscitation was necessary at the hospital before she was put on life support.

Meanwhile, one of Tiffany’s co-workers had called her mother, Mary Jane, to tell her that Tiffany had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. The family immediately set out on the hour-and-a-half drive, praying all the way. They were met by a team of doctors and some of Tiffany’s co-workers. Tiffany was on life support, they were told, and wasn’t expected to live more than two hours. A pulmonary embolism and severe clotting caused an anoxic brain injury so extensive it threatened her life.

“When we got the news, we just broke down,” says Mary Jane. “All I could think of was to turn my face to the wall, like the biblical King Hezekiah, and pray to the Lord.”

Two hours passed, and Tiffany was still alive. Thankful, and keeping up their prayer vigil, Tiffany’s mom was allowed to stay with her in the ICU. Amazingly, Tiffany had survived, but was blind, unable to talk, and immobile, except when epileptic seizures wracked her frame.

It was nearly a month before Tiffany began to be aware of her surroundings, and another few weeks before her vision began to return. When it did, it was like looking through wax paper. She’d also become aware that she needed help with everything – brushing her teeth, combing her hair, turning in bed. In time, her mobility would improve, but her vision and speech were still a problem.

Eventually, her occupational therapist referred her to Siskin Hospital’s Low Vision Program for its unique vision treatment with prisms and eye-hand coordination. Since she spent a lot of time in a wheelchair because of her limited strength, Tiffany also benefited from Siskin Hospital’s outpatient occupational and physical therapy. Her mobility improved markedly through use of the Alter G treadmill and Lokomat, and she soon left the wheelchair behind.

At the same time, she needed speech therapy to re-learn how to talk.

“I could hear myself talking clear in my mind, but what came out wasn’t anything like it,” says Tiffany. “I couldn’t make myself understood, and I was so discouraged that I’d nearly stopped talking at all.”

Through speech therapy, and faithful adherence to performing the exercises and homework prescribed by her speech therapist, she completely overcame this deficit.

Today, Tiffany lives a full life and encourages others through her Christian Life Coaching ministry, Peace & Grace, despite lingering epileptic symptoms.

“At Siskin Hospital, I got my vision back, my leg got stronger, my mobility and speech improved,” says Tiffany. “It’s a miracle, considering where I was. Because of Siskin Hospital, I can thrive!”