In October 2020, Alisha Beaudoin, then 27, went to an urgent care centre feeling achy, nauseous, and feverish. Beaudoin had been working in hospital as a medical student, and assumed she had the COVID-19 virus or the flu.
“I thought I’d be treated for dehydration, offered some pain relief, and be sent home to recover. In reality, I stayed in the hospital and wouldn’t be sent home for two months,” says Beaudoin.
While in urgent care, Beaudoin’s condition quickly worsened.
“Within hours, my legs became weak, and I developed excruciating back pain. Soon, I couldn’t feel my legs at all,” says Beaudoin.
It was clear to medical staff that Beaudoin required specialized care. She was sent to Health Sciences Centre by ambulance, where an MRI test showed Beaudoin had transverse myelitis (inflammation of the spinal cord).
“After more tests, I learned what caused the inflammation. 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 my paralysis,” says Beaudoin.
The explanation of the disease, its effects, and the road to recovery were made clear to Beaudoin by the doctors at HSC. Beaudoin knew the importance of this clarity as a medical student who would normally be explaining things to patients. Now she was the patient and her dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon were dwindling.
What followed was more testing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, pain management, rounds of steroid treatments, and regular plasmapheresis (removing and replacing blood plasma).
“Throughout my diagnosis and recovery, the care and companionship I received from the HSC staff was outstanding. Everyone was skilled, compassionate, and present. During some of the hardest days of the pandemic, they persevered, and patient care remained their number one priority,” says Beaudoin.
Once her condition stabilized, Beaudoin was transferred to HSC’s Rehabilitation Hospital, where she went through intensive therapy to help recover her strength and as much mobility as possible. Beaudoin was told that it could take up to four months before she would be discharged, but she didn’t accept that. Beaudoin made it her goal to be home by Christmas. With the amazing support of the therapists at HSC, she was discharged near the beginning of December.
My life looks a lot different than it did when I walked into urgent care. I’ve learned to use a wheelchair, drive with my hands, and have created a new medical career path for myself,” says Beaudoin.
In 2022, Beaudoin graduated from the Max Rady College of Medicine. Although she was unable to pursue her dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon, Beaudoin found a new love in the specialty of radiology. She credits the radiologists at HSC with taking the time to thoroughly understand and diagnose her condition so the right treatment plan could be put in place. Since her diagnosis Beaudoin says she has had a passion and desire to do the same for her own patients.
“I am now working as a radiology resident, I married my partner Trevor, and we are building a home together. Every day I have to overcome barriers, but from the moment I started my recovery I have battled through adversity, and I wake up every day determined to have the best outlook on life possible,” says Beaudoin.
Teaming up for a healthier Manitoba
When you purchase your Tri-Hospital Dream Lottery tickets, all proceeds stay right here in our province to support our big three hospitals: St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre, and HSC Children’s Hospital.
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