Gavrielle’s Story


My name is Gavrielle and I am now 16 years old.  On November 8, 2011, I came home from school feeling very sick.  I had a bad headache, fever, nausea and a sore throat.  My mom thought I had the flu or something that would run its course in the next 24-48 hrs.   It got worse the second day.   I was throwing up and started with diarrhea that night.  I couldn’t keep anything down.  My mom was going to take me to the doctor after my brothers got on the bus the next morning (11/10/11).   I wanted to go sooner!  I never felt so sick in my life.   I was throwing up all night and fell asleep on the bathroom floor.  At around 5am, my mom checked my throat again.  When she did, she saw that my tongue was completely white.  My parents decided that my mom should take me to the ER immediately instead of waiting to go to my family doctor.  We got to the ER and I remember having to sit down on the steps on my way in.  I was feeling so weak.  They took my blood pressure.   My systolic pressure was in the 50’s.   They hooked me up to IV fluid and ran blood tests.  The nurse thought I was just dehydrated and would probably be able to leave in a couple hours.  The doctor came in after he got the blood work results and said to my mom, “This is really bad.  She is in acute renal failure and her organs are shutting down.”  He could not understand how I even walked into the ER on my own.  They transferred me by ambulance to a hospital that would be better equipped to take care of me.  By the time I arrived at the 2nd hospital, I was on my third bag of IV fluid.  As soon as I got there, they put a 4th one in my other arm.   They were going to put me in a regular room, but soon realized that even with all the fluid, my blood pressure was still dangerously low and my heart rate was very high.  They decided they needed to take me to the PICU immediately.  At that point, they still did not have a diagnosis.  I was septic.  My kidneys were functioning at 25%.  They didn’t know if I was going to have to start dialysis.  They ran endless tests and had a PICC line put in to start me on all kinds of heavy duty medications.   I had to be put on oxygen and was monitored to make sure my lungs weren’t filling with fluid.  After a lot of testing and exams, they determined I had TSS.   It was on that first day in the hospital that the rash appeared on my legs and stomach.  At that point, the doctors did not know if I was going to be okay.  With round the clock care from some incredible doctors and nurses, I started to slowly get better.  It was probably on the 3rd day that they were able to say that they thought I would be okay.   It was rough, though.  I was throwing up for days and would have panic attacks that they attributed to the meds.  They had to put an A-line in to monitor my blood pressure since it was not coming up on its own.  I remember one night they had to draw blood, but couldn’t take it from the PICC line.  Some of my veins had collapsed.  They poked me in my arms, legs and feet for over an hour before finally getting blood.  Whenever they would have to change my meds, my bp would drop so rapidly that I would immediately turn white and become violently ill.  They kept me in the PICU for 6 days, and then sent me to a regular room once they were able to wean me off of the blood pressure medication.   When I was able to go home, they prescribed a very strong antibiotic for me to take.  After I left the hospital, other than the fact that I was very weak and scared, you never would have known I was even sick.  I don’t know how I was so lucky to have made a full recovery.   I do have nightmares and worry that I will get sick again.  Going through something like this definitely changes you.  My heart goes out to all the families of those that lost their lives to this horrible disease.   I hope that by sharing my story I can help get the word out.


  1. This was such a scary time for you, your family, and all of us that love you! So glad you are okay. Thanks for being brave and sharing. : )

  2. I could not get through your story Gavrielle without crying! That being said, I agree with Steph, you are SUPER BRAVE and STRONG! Your voice will help someone else :) Stay Strong!

  3. Sandy Dellicker says:

    I can’t believe that almost a year has passed since we almost lost our beautiful Grand Daughter, Gavrielle. She was so very sick and the doctors could not assure us that she would make it. Her Grampy and I are so proud of her for sharing her story. I too, am writing with tears streaming.
    So many women have never even heard of TSS and when these, seemingly common symptoms appear, it is so easy to dismiss them as just a “bug”. I do pray that by bringing attention to TSS more lives will be saved.
    Gavrielle was truly truly Blessed — Her Guardian Angel was working overtime watching over her during that time as heavy duty prayers were constantly making their way to Heaven. Seeing her cheer today at the football games or playing soccer, you would never know that she was ever so very sick.
    Please take the time to read the symptoms of TSS and if you have a female you love, and I am sure that you do, ask her if she has ever heard of this disease. If not, please make her aware of it so she can recognize the symptoms and seek medical attention immediately. You could be saving her life!
    May God continue to Bless you, Gavrielle! Thank You for sharing your story to raise awareness. Your story may very well be a life saver!
    YOU are Grampy and Gramzey’s hero. We are sure that your Mom, Dad and brothers must be beaming with pride as well.
    To all TSS survivors, God be with you Always!
    “Life is fragile – Handle with PRAYER”
    We Love you, Gavrielle!

  4. So glad to hear you are okay! That’s a terrifying thing to read about, and it’s a shame that so many people find it taboo to speak about periods and healthy ways to manage them. I hope you find something safer to use that you are comfortable with (like a menstrual cup).

  5. Lisa Ziegler says:

    Dear Gavrielle,
    I just would like to thank God for answered prayers. You are truly a miracle. I will share your story with all the girls I know. It is a true testimony. God has a plan for your life and I can’t wait to see what it is.
    God bless you, dear Gavrielle!
    Love your friend,

  6. Dear Gavrielle, Your Gram is a friend, and let us know about your awful time. I am so glad that you are OK, and very proud of you for sharing. You will save others, which is a wonderful thing. Even if one person gets this message and is saved, it is worth it. You are a special young lady! Peggy Morgan

  7. Gav, this is one of the most inspiring stories of hope and strength I have ever read. So touching and so brave of you to spread this story. You are a wonderful human being surrounded by great people who love and care for you. I am glad you’re recovery went well and I am glad everything is okay now.

  8. Gavrielle, I’m so glad you pulled through, and I hope you’ll stay healthy. Your story is very well written, and you’re so strong for dealing with it all. All the best, and hope to see you soon x.

  9. Kim (Hoffman) Woodling says:

    Hi Gavrielle,
    I am friends with your Mom from H.S. I was a twirler, with your Mom, and your Grandmother was my coach 😉 I ran into your parents coincidentally last year, when you were in the hospital. I was there visiting my brother in law. I can’t believe it’s been a year already! I remember how scared and worried your parents were about you. I am so happy to hear you made a full recovery and are doing well now. You are a very bright, beautiful girl. Thank you for sharing your story, your courage, and spreading the word about TSS. Best wishes to you and your family! ~Kim

  10. Gavrielle says:

    Thank you all very much, I appreciate it and I appreciated all of the prayers and get well wishes while I was sick. Thank you for taking the time to read and share and I do hope this can help someone else. <3

  11. Thank you for sharing. You know you and your family are always in our prayers.

  12. Lisa Ziegler says:

    I truly believe God has pulled you though this, because He wants you to tell others how he healed you and to make people aware.
    I remember when your aunt Tara put it on fb for people to pray for you and I remember praying for you and I also remember crying, and thinking what if this was my own daughter or niece. I can only imagine what your family and friends were go ing through.
    Thank you for being wiling to make women aware of tss.
    God bless you Gavrielle!

  13. Wow! That is one AMAZING story!