One Woman Shares Her Story After Almost Dying from Sepsis at Age 39
The harrowing experience taught her an important lesson.
You and your body are a team, and when you work together to overcome trauma, you're reminded of just how strong of a duo you really are. That's what Christine Garvin learned, and she's spreading her story to encourage others to see their body as an ally, not an opponent.
In July, Garvin was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of sepsis, a severe condition caused by the body's reaction to an infection. Sepsis causes inflammation throughout the body. As it progresses, crucial organs may start shutting down one by one. This is what happened to Garvin, who developed sepsis as a response to an abdominal infection. (Related: This Woman Is Fighting for Sepsis Awareness After Almost Dying from the Disease)
When she went to the hospital, she was taken into emergency surgery, which resulted in a right hemicolectomy (the removal of one side of the colon), and two days later, an ileostomy (surgery to create an opening in the belly wall to remove waste from the body).
Needless to say, she was shocked by the experience. Garvin was only 39, and until now, she had always been healthy. She was both a wellness coach and a professional dancer, so she was very conscious of what she ate and how much she exercised. In fact, in the months before she got sick, she felt like her relationship with her body was better than ever, she tells Health. (Related: I Thought I Had the Flu-but It Turned Out to Be Sepsis)
"I was starting to feel stronger than I ever had at any point in my life," Garvin says. "I was really starting to step into a role of showing other women that this is an amazing time of your life. You know who you are on a different level, and you understand yourself in new ways."
Then reality hit. She woke up in a hospital bed with an ostomy bag, something she had never even heard of before. It was hanging off of her stomach to collect waste from the new opening doctors had made in her abdomen. She couldn't believe this was happening to her. (Related: A Mom Shares Her Near-Death Experience with Sepsis That Left Her Blind and Without Legs)
But instead of being upset at her body and dwelling on everything that went wrong, she decided to look at it from a different perspective.
"My body and me, we're on the same team. We're in this together," she says. Garvin believes every body wants to "do right" by the person that inhabits it, but many of us have a hard time seeing that because we're constantly told us otherwise. We're made to think our bodies are working against us, but that isn't the case. (Related: My Daughter Nearly Died of Sepsis. Here's How You Can Stay Safe)
Garvin worked hard to regain her strength, and her doctors were seriously impressed by how fast she recovered, she says. She thinks it's partly because she saw the experience as a chance to become stronger than she was before. She celebrated every small victory and accepted the things she couldn't change.
"I had no idea how much I could love my tummy until it was covered in scars, uneven rolls, and an ostomy bag," she wrote in a recent Instagram post.
Garvin believes if you're kind to your body, your body will return the favor. For anyone on a journey similar to hers, she recommends finding a positivity practice that works for you, whether it's joining a support group, reciting daily affirmations, or something entirely unique. Different things work for everyone, but we can all strive towards a common goal: self-love.
This story was originally published on Health.com by Samantha Lauriello.