By Mollie Mansfield
A mother-of-four who became a triple amputee after her dog bit her has opened up about how she is learning to live life since the incident.
Dog lover Christine Caron, who was 49 at the time, was playing tug-of-war with her four dogs on May 16, 2013 when her three-year-old Shih Tzu, Buster, accidentally bit her hand during a game of tug-of-war.
After already feeling unwell on the days running up to the incident, Christine went to the hospital six days later after vomiting overnight but collapsed upon arrival.
She woke up one month later to find out she was in a coma and battling deadly sepsis and was told that she’d need to have her arms and legs amputated – but thankfully, her right arm was able to be saved.
Just days after waking from the coma Christine, now 55, had the amputations over several surgeries and has since been learning to live with her prosthetics – and is now doing all she can to raise awareness for sepsis.
Christine, from Ottawa, Canada, said: “I was just playing with my dog in the garden when he accidentally nipped my hand. I didn’t think it would be an issue as I had cleaned it immediately and it didn’t become infected.
“I had been suffering with bronchitis for a few months, but three days after the dog bite I started to experience a few dizzy spells and became more unwell from here.
“Then, when I was at work on 21 May, I suddenly felt extremely weak, winded and nauseous so went home and fell asleep on the couch.
“I tried to go to the emergency clinic, but it had closed just moments before, so went home and got straight into bed – and this was the last thing I remembered for months.
“After trying to sleep it off, I woke up at 11.30pm with what I thought were flu symptoms and went to the hospital the following morning, where I collapsed in the emergency room at 7am.
“The next thing I knew I was in the hospital being awoken from an induced coma on 13 June.
“This is when I was told that I had suffered from sepsis and the only way they would be able to save me was if they amputated my arms and legs.
“Luckily they were able to save my right arm and this is when I decided I wanted to live, so I decided to have the amputations on my left arm and both legs.”
When she awoke Christine was hit with the fact that sepsis had ravaged her limbs and she would have to have both of her legs and arms amputated.
But luckily, after regaining circulation in her right arm, she was told she could keep her right hand and proceeded with the other three amputations.
She said: “I was initially told that I would have to have all four limbs amputated, but by some miracle the circulation came back in my right arm – and this provided me the little glimmer of hope I so desperately needed to survive.
“My legs were amputated below the knee on the 22 June, and finally my arm was amputated below the elbow on 26th – I was then put straight into rehab to learn how to cope with multiple limb loss and reach some levels of independence.
“After this I was discharged from hospital to the rehab centre on 8 July and by the September, I could walk assisted with my prosthetic legs. I was then discharged from the rehab centre on December 18.
“But it wasn’t until 2017 that I received my passive left prosthetic arm, which fills out my shirt, helps me keep peas on my plate and perform other basic tasks.”
Despite becoming a triple amputee, Christine explains that she is now making the most of being alive and claims that yoga, her family and raising awareness for sepsis helps her live every day to the fullest.
She said: “Over the years I have been working on becoming active again after the mental impacts of surgery stopped me, and now I even have a yoga arm now – which helps my mental health massively.
“My initial goal was to make it to my 50th birthday, and that was five years ago, my new goal is to focus on helping to spread as much awareness as possible about sepsis and the issues post-sepsis syndrome – the condition most sepsis survivors are left with.
“We need to do more to advocate and educate – as sepsis doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone!”