What do you do when your child lies in a vegetative state, with a tube down her throat hooked up to a machine that helps her breathe to stay alive?
You’ve been told that she will never recover, are advised to withdraw all medical intensive support, make funeral arrangements and prepare to say your final goodbyes. The rest of the family has accepted your child’s fate, but deep down inside of you, you scream, “No! I’m not letting her go!”
Parker, Arizona, March 12, 2016, Jazzmyne, a vibrant young 20 year old, experienced a severe asthmatic attack caused by her strong allergy to cats. The airways of her lungs began to swell hindering her ability to breathe. She was medivacked by plane to a Las Vegas hospital where an emergency team worked frantically to save her life. Jazzmyne suffered cardiopulmonary arrest (both her heart and breathing stopped). The time she spent without oxygen flow to her brain caused an anoxic brain injury (brain injury caused by lack of oxygen), leaving her in a vegetative state, fully dependent on medical technology to keep her alive and breathing.
Karina, Jazzmyne’s mom, refused to withdraw medical support as her daughter laid unaware of her surroundings and her condition. Unwilling to accept that this was the end for her child, Karina fought for and obtained guardianship of her daughter so that she could make medical decisions on her behalf. Karina, a single mom, was determined to find a place that could provide therapy to Jazzmyne and assist her in rehabilitation. She persistently asked the social service team involved in Jazzmyne’s care to find a place that could provide the physical and cognitive therapies that her daughter needed. In her own words, Karina stated that she “hounded” them until they found the right place. That place was Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) in Phoenix, Arizona.
On June 7, 2016, Jazzmyne, who had been in a vegetative state for three months with no change, was flown to Phoenix and welcomed to Hacienda Skilled Nursing Facility. Sixteen years ago Hacienda SNF was formed to meet the skilled nursing needs of infants, children, teens, and young adults who needed rehabilitative therapies, especially for those who were ventilator dependent. Hacienda SNF remains the only skilled nursing facility in Arizona specializing in pediatrics and young adults.
Jazzmyne began her journey to recovery under the care of Hacienda’s Dr. Nguyen. Six weeks after being placed at Hacienda, Jazzmyne came out of her coma. She began nodding and was able to respond to yes and no questions. August of this year, Jazzmyne’s breathing tube was removed. She no longer needed the ventilator that had been keeping her alive. Her lungs were strong enough for her to breathe on her own.
Karina is often by her daughter’s side witnessing her daily progress and giving nuggets of encouragement. Mom is truly the heroine who was determined to get her daughter the care she desperately needed to get better. When asked what prompted her persistence and determination, Karina responded, “I’m a fighter, not a quitter.”
As our conversation progressed, Mom excitedly reminisced on Jazzmyne’s interests before the injury. “She used to sing, play the violin, guitar and drums. She loves music.” Mom shared that Jazzmyne had just recently attended her very first rock band concert. As Jazzmyne sat in her wheelchair under a shady tree at the park, I asked one more question of mom. “Why do you think Jazzmyne is doing so well?” Mom’ s response, “Her strength, her will, she’s tough, keeps on going, and she’s never been a quitter.” Defying all the odds, Jazzmyne is quite the superhero herself.
Because of Karina’s unwavering persistence and love for her daughter, Jazzmyne is making huge gains in her recovery. With the support of Hacienda staff and 24/7 nursing care, she is on the path to recovery. It’s because of our behind the scenes superheroes like you that Karina is able to stay in the apartments known as the Angel House on Hacienda’s South Mountain campus. The Valley of the Sun Kiwanis Club and local businesses built the Angel House so that families could be a part of their loved one’s recovery process. Any client family member can stay up to seven days at a time in one of the apartments, at no cost to them. Thank you partners for making this possible!