Lee's Story

Lee Mengarelli smiling after therapy.

Lee Mengarelli, 84, resides in Picayune, MS with her husband, Victor. While Victor worked, Lee stayed at home and took care of their two, now-grown daughters, and their home. The family also enjoyed traveling around the country and overseas with Victor’s job. Now, Lee enjoys gardening and cooking, and prior to her recent health issues, was the full-time caregiver for her retired husband.

Lee had double knee replacement 21 years ago, but more recently developed an infection at the replacement sites that required surgery to clean out it out and replace the hardware in her joints. After a successful procedure and course of treatment with IV antibiotics, Lee was admitted to Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital to continue her recovery. Lee’s son-in-law was a former patient, so the family was familiar with the hospital and knew it to be top notch and an excellent choice for Lee’s needs.

Upon admission, Lee had limited mobility and was unable to perform any self-care tasks. She immediately set a goal to return to her “normal” self. She was determined to do whatever it took to get better and stronger. Although initially discouraged about her loss of mobility and strength prior to coming to Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, starting therapy made her feel hopeful and served as a turning point.

In physical therapy, the team had her walk in the parallel bars for support, then transitioned her to walking with a rolling walker. Lee also increased her leg strength with therapies using the stair stepper, therapy bands and weights on her legs. The physical therapist also wove in stretching exercises to increase the range of motion to her knees.

Meanwhile, Lee’s occupational therapy team strengthened her arms using the arm bicycle and other exercises to build her ability to hold her weight using the rolling walker. They also taught Lee new techniques and ways to safely shower, dress and put on her shoes using a reacher, long-handled shoe horn and sock helper.

After 15 days at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital, Lee was ready to go home. At the time of discharge, she was able to perform all self-care tasks independently and walk up to 240 feet with a walker and a family member standing by for safety. Lee is looking forward to being home and back to her “normal” routine and continuing to gain strength and mobility with outpatient therapy.

Lee said her family’s support was a key factor in her success. One of her daughters stayed with Lee in the hospital, while her other daughter helped to care for Victor at their home.

She shared, “My experience at Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital was everything I thought it would be and more.” Lee also offered advice for others on their recovery journey: "Don't take anything for granted and don't give up."