Every memorable celebration starts with a festive party dress.
At least that’s the sentiment of 36-year-old Mandi Lefebvre who celebrated her discharge from Providence Care Hospital while walking off the rehabilitation unit in an ankle length, black and gold sparkly, A-line, cocktail dress.
“This is a big moment for me to leave and I like to dress nice, especially near Christmas,” says Mandi. “I bought this dress and I hung it on my bed lift as motivation in my recovery; it reminds me every day that I’m going to walk out of here. Plus, it was a good reminder that I didn’t ever want to use that lift again,” she said while chuckling.
Mandi’s journey with her health began abruptly in early September 2022. She says she was a busy working mom and wife, preparing for back-to-school when she suddenly fell ill.
“It started as a neck ache and then I thought I had the flu and then less than 24 hours later I just couldn’t move half my body, I couldn’t walk, I tried to get up and I collapsed,” she said.
Mandi, who lives in Quinte West, spent time at Trenton Memorial Hospital and Belleville General Hospital before being transferred to Kingston Health Sciences Centre. It was there where she was diagnosed with a rare type of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
“I had two episodes, for lack of a better word,” says Mandi. “They weren’t strokes, but I lost my mobility and my speech.” It’s like a brain injury. It has been hard, but I’m willing and wanting to put in the work,” she added.
After what she calls a long journey, Mandi is now in a place where she can communicate confidently and walk independently with her cane or walker. Her motivation, along with the dress, was to be home for her son’s ninth birthday on December 17.
“I’m his person, you know? It’s been hard, very difficult being away from him for so long and I didn’t want to miss his birthday.”
Donned in her discharge best, Mandi walked confidently off Heritage 1, Providence Care Hospital’s rehabilitation unit, with her cane dressed just as festively, in red and green, candy-cane stripes. She gave hugs to her care team along the way.
“It’s been so wonderful here and the staff have kept me very busy, which has been so great because I wanted to put in the work so I could get out,” she explains.
Rehabilitation will continue from home for Mandi. She says living with MS was never a turn she thought her life would take but she’s staying positive and focusing on the things she can control.
“So much of this has been so hard, but I need to stay patient with myself and take things day-by-day.”
Mandi says her son has big plans for his birthday, enjoying all his favourite restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She adds this year it won’t be lost on her, how special the day is. The Lefebvre family has so much to celebrate this holiday season, and Mandi says it definitely will not be the last time she wears her special, discharge dress.