Now she's sharing her story to give others strength. 

By Samantha Lauriello
November 30, 2018

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.

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Laying in a hospital bed 4 months and 7 days ago, and laying in bed today.• • There’s no way I’ll ever forget July 2018, and yet appreciate nature’s way of making the painful memories fade. I can be in my apartment without the fear of death hanging over me now. I have my daily aches and pains, for sure, but my abdomen feels like it’s one piece again, and I can use it to get up without the looming threat of a hernia. I’ve gained back almost all of the nearly 20 pounds lost. Though my memory is not quite back to where it was, I feel the daily sharpening of my mind.• • But what I’m most proud of, is my body.• • It was put through literal hell, and it fought its way outta there. It wants good health. It desires to safely house my mind, my heart, and my soul. It craves the serotonin uptick it gets when I move it.• • It’s truly the most sacred vessel I’ll ever experience.• • The look of it has changed, and will never return to where it once was. And it thanks me daily for embracing that truth - it shows me small ways it has decided to return to its roots, and allows me to see what new ways it can be better (even if that better isn’t what society deems as beautiful or strong).• • I believe every woman’s (and man’s) body wants to do right by its “person.” It wants to be accepted. It wants to be loved. And yet we have such a hard time with these seemingly simple acts, because so many messages we’ve gotten tell us it’s wrong.• • I thought I loved my body before, but I had no idea. What I’ve been through has made me develop an entirely different relationship with this hybrid-of-my-past-and-new body. And I believe any woman can create a new relationship with her body, no matter what you are currently going through.• • Which is why I created Body L’Amour. Are you ready to change your relationship with your body?• • Learn more at the Body L’Amour link in bio or in the story on my page.• • #lovetheskinyourein #bodypositive #ostomy #ileostomy #bodylove #loveyourself #transformation #bodylamour #changethegame

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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.

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.

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