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Employees as Patients: Tanya McCarter

Employees as Patients

Dr. Michael Miloro and Tanya McCarter

In late 2016, Tanya McCarter, an administrative nurse in The Center for Women's Health, had her wisdom teeth removed - a typically straight-forward oral procedure with few side effects other than some pain and swelling. Typically.

But the next day, something wasn't right. "I had complete and total loss of feeling on the right side of my tongue," Tanya says.

The numbness continued for two days before she got a diagnosis: paresthesia, a tingling or numbness caused when a nerve is damaged during an oral surgery procedure. When Tanya's wisdom teeth were being extracted, her right lingual nerve - part of the trigeminal nerve system, which is responsible for sensation in the face - was damaged.

The oral surgeon at her dental practice recommended she see Dr. Michael Miloro, Professor and Head of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at UI Health, about treatment to repair the nerve.

Dr. Miloro is an internationally recognized expert in trigeminal nerve repair; in fact, he is the author of the only textbook published on the diagnosis and management of this type of injury

The referring surgeon did not know that Tanya was a nurse at UI Health - or, that she already had researched Dr. Miloro herself.

"Because I'm a healthcare provider, I'm focused on giving - and receiving - the best care," Tanya says. "When I started researching nerve repair specialists, I found Dr. Miloro. And because he was at UI Health, I knew he would take great care of me."

Around a month after her procedure, Tanya had her initial consult with Dr. Miloro, and in late February, he performed a repair of the right lingual nerve using a nerve allograft.

"The success of microneurosurgery is extremely time-dependent," says Dr. Miloro. "Tanya was referred for care in the appropriate time frame. We are hopeful that Tanya will make a full recovery and be able to feel her tongue and taste foods normally again."

Noting that he often sees individuals from all over the country, Dr. Miloro joked that Tanya probably had the shortest travel time of all his nerve-injured patients. "It was a privilege to treat one of our own UI Health nurses!" he says.

Adds Tanya: "The care I received at UI Health was unbelievable! I did not tell anyone I was an employee here, and I was provided an exceptional patient experience."