Battling Through Adversity
Alisha Beaudoin's Life-changing Story of Perseverance
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I’m sharing my medical story with you, hoping you’ll consider supporting the Health Sciences Centre Foundation. I also hope that you’ll be inspired to push through times of adversity and strive to live life to its fullest.
In October 2020, I went to an urgent care centre feeling achy, nauseous, and feverish. This was during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I had been working in the hospital as a medical student. I thought that I had the virus or the flu. I thought I’d be treated for dehydration, offered some pain relief, and be sent home. I thought wrong, and wouldn’t be sent home for two months. My condition worsened quickly and dramatically. Within mere hours, my legs became very weak and I developed excruciating back pain. Soon, I couldn’t feel my legs at all.
I required specialized care, and was sent to HSC Winnipeg. An MRI showed that I had transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord). After more testing, I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself. The doctors explained that my SLE caused a spinal cord injury that resulted in paralysis.
The disease, its impact on my body, and the road of recovery were made clear to me. I knew the importance of this clarity as a medical student who would normally be explaining things to patients. Now I was the patient lying in bed while my dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon were dwindling.
More testing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pain management, steroid treatments, and regular plasmapheresis (removing and replacing blood plasma) followed. As the pandemic intensified, I faced most days without the support of family and friends.
The care from HSC staff was outstanding. Everyone was skilled, compassionate, and present. During the hardest days of the pandemic,they persevered, and patient care remained their top priority.
Once my condition stabilized, I was transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital at HSC. I went through intensive therapy to recover my strength and gain as much mobility as possible. I was told that it could take four months before I would be discharged. I didn’t accept this and my therapists and I made it my goal to be home by Christmas. With the amazing support of the therapists at HSC, I worked hard and was discharged in early December.
My life looks a lot different than it did when I walked into urgent care in 2020. I’ve learned to use a wheelchair, drive with my hands, and have created a new medical career path for myself. In 2022, I graduated from the Max Rady College of Medicine. Although I couldn’t pursue my dream of becoming a plastic surgeon due to the difficulty of operating in a wheelchair, I found a new love of radiology. I credit the radiologists at HSC for their patience to thoroughly understand and diagnose my condition. I’ve had that same passion and desire to do the same for my patients.
I’m now a radiology resident, married to my wonderful partner Trevor, and we are building a home in Oak Bluff. I must overcome barriers most days, but from the moment I started my recovery I have battled through adversity. I wake up every day determined to have the best outlook possible.
I encourage you to support the HSC Foundation’s Operation Excellence campaign. HSC’s people are gifted and passionate. With your support, we can make sure that they have the best equipment and spaces possible so they can do even more for Manitobans.
Please visit OperationExcellence.ca or call 204-515-5612, or 1-800-679-8493 to learn more about Operation Excellence.
This article is produced by the Advertising Department of the Winnipeg Free Press, in collaboration with HSC Foundation