DeKALB – Michelle LeBlanc and Stephen Spain were supposed to get married in two weeks. They had it all planned, from the venue to the meals and the flowers.
A car crash changed their plans.
On Nov. 1, LeBlanc, 31, a seventh grade special education teacher, and her brother, Robert LeBlanc, were going to a doctor’s appointment. She said she can’t remember much of the day. She thinks they were on Illinois Route 64.
“I don’t remember the crash at all,” LeBlanc said. “They thought I wouldn’t make it, so they airlifted my brother but not me. I was taken to Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and they got me a little bit stabilized. My mom told me I was not awake for a couple of days, and my fiance Stephen stayed with me in the hospital.”
They still don’t know all the details about the crash, LeBlanc said. But she suffered extensive injuries. She broke her pelvis on both sides, broke her collarbone, chipped some teeth, suffered a punctured lung, lacerated her liver, and suffered a brain bleed which left her seeing double vision. Her brother broke his neck and cut his head, but he’s since been discharged and is back at home.
It would be a long healing journey for LeBlanc, as her fiance, Spain, 35, lead valet at Hollywood Casino in Aurora, waiting with her every night in the hospital, or watching their dog, a 14-year-old Rottweiler named Koda, who was allowed to visit LeBlanc twice. But they knew their wedding wouldn’t be happening anytime soon.
“It was so heart-wrenching,” LeBlanc said. “We were really excited about it. I definitely had my ups and downs. For a long time, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to walk on my wedding day.”
LeBlanc and Spain, who will have been together for five years in March, had their first date at Starbucks. She got a smoothie, and he got a coffee. It’s been a whirlwind, journey to the rest of their lives together, but their determination seems to have sped up the process, she said.
She said doctors have told that her recovery has been extraordinary. She’s been staying at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Center in Wheaton, and was able to go home for the first time days before Christmas. They had a cozy and intimate Christmas at her mother’s house in DeKalb. Spain requested spaghetti and meatballs, she said.
Almost two months later, she’s already regained much of her independence, and can get herself to the bathroom, get dressed, use a walker on her own and walk down the aisle.
That’s right, the wedding still is on. When staff at Kuiper’s Family Farm in Maple Park heard about her accident, they helped her save a new wedding date, April 11, and even visited her in the hospital and brought 48 apple cider donuts for the hospital staff.
LeBlanc also eagerly awaits returning to her classroom.
“I love seeing my students grow,” she said. “I love seeing their faces when they get something right.”
The road to recovery isn’t over yet, but with her support team around her, LeBlanc has kept her optimism with Spain, who she calls her “prince charming” by her side.
“I am grateful even more for those around me,” she said. “I think [the experience] also brought me a little bit closer to God and just being so thankful that I lived and get to marry the love of my life.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle