Healing a wounded warrior, inside and out
Tara Kane proudly served her country for nine years in the U.S. Army, including time in Iraq. Those front-line experiences left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, requiring a medical discharge. Life after the service was difficult, and Tara struggled.
In mid-May, the 44-year-old was driving and suddenly crashed. The car flipped eight times and Tara was thrown from the vehicle. Bystanders dialed 911, and when crews arrived, they found Tara barely breathing, lying in a ditch.
Clinging to life, Tara was rushed to the local hospital and given a one percent chance of survival. On life support, body riddled with trauma, including multiple organ lacerations and bone fractures, she needed 26 pints of blood – the human body holds 10.
Miraculously, Tara survived the night. Over the next 24 hours, she had eight different surgeries. By the third day, Tara’s heart stopped and was shocked back to rhythm three times.
Each day that passed, doctors and family marveled at her survival. By May 30, she stabilized. Her mother, Alfreida Jacobson, could consider the next step for Tara’s healing. She chose Regency Hospital of Florence.
Tara arrived at the end of May, minimally conscious and unable to breathe, speak, eat or move. Alfreida wanted Tara home and back with her young son. A physician-led team of nurses, therapists, pharmacists and dietitians created a plan to help Tara succeed.
Respiratory therapists began short bursts of time off the machine and gradually reduced settings, allowing her lungs to work independently. Tara liberated from the ventilator and was transitioned to oxygen support.
As she returned to consciousness, Tara learned about the accident. Depression set in, so the hospital team connected her with a psychologist to work through recent and past trauma. Tara realized this was a second chance at life, and embraced it.
Several weeks later, she was able to communicate and conduct video calls with family. Their love and support poured through, lifting Tara’s spirits. She understood they loved her no matter what.
“I pushed my family away from me, and now we’re a family again because of the accident, and because of the people at Regency Hospital telling me that they love me,” Tara said.
Physical and occupational therapists worked to heal Tara’s body, putting her through a mobility program designed to increase strength and stamina.
Some days, Tara did not want to move. The pain was too great. But, she said, the nurses and therapists kindly, but firmly, said “can’t” wasn’t an option.
“I felt like I was in Army boot camp again,” Tara said. It was just the motivation she needed.
Tara put her all she had into physical therapy, working her way to standing. Speech therapists led mouth, tongue and jaw exercises to retrain swallowing reflexes. They also used puzzles, games and activities to aid memory, recall, concentration and decision-making. Tara passed a swallowing study and was permitted to resume a regular diet.
After two months, Tara proudly departed for an inpatient rehabilitation hospital to continue regaining and building strength.
“I will be forever grateful to the Regency Hospital staff,” she said. “I have brothers and sisters in the Army, but I also have sisters and brothers at Regency. Thank you for all you did for my family and me.”