A Garmin fitness tracker saved a woman's life

Garmin Fitness Tracker Helps Save Woman’s Life

An abnormally high stress level indicated to Cynthia Sarver that what her body was experiencing might not be simply food poisoning — a tip-off that resulted in emergency surgery for a gangrenous, burst appendix.

By Garmin customer Cynthia Sarver

My Garmin vívosmart® helped to save my life.

I know, I know — you’re rolling your eyes and thinking that I’m being overly dramatic, but I assure you I’m being quite literal.

Let me set the stage: It was the beginning of 2020 and I was visiting my mother. We were having a fabulous time, relaxing and laughing, getting a great start on what I thought would be a fabulous year. In hindsight, like so many of us, my hopes for the year were greatly overestimated.

I bought my vívosmart the year before in order to step up my training and overall health. As a result, though Mom and I were splurging on some fabulous food (who can visit Florida without key lime pie?), I still relied on my vívosmart to keep my fitness goals firmly in mind. I was getting in my steps, my intensity minutes, making sure my sleep and stress levels were reasonable, and in general, doing all the things I would do when not vacationing. In short, I started the year in probably in the best shape of my entire life.

I’ll spare you the graphic details, but one evening I thought I had gotten food poisoning. The symptoms eventually subsided and with Mom’s care I started to feel better. (Hint: No matter your age, mothers snap right back into that “Mom Mode” when you get sick. Moms rock!) Oddly enough, even though I felt better, my vívosmart still had my stress level tracking high. And I mean REALLY high.

Normally after I get sick, the stress level drops to a lower state while I’m recuperating. This time it didn’t. Not only did it not drop to a rest state, but it constantly stayed at high stress! The vívosmart reading convinced me to visit the ER, just in case.

To everyone’s surprise, my appendix had turned gangrenous and exploded!

All of a sudden, 2020 wasn’t looking so wonderful. Trust me when I say that abdominal surgery is no joke. My abdomen was sliced open, some assorted internal bits and bobs were cut out and stitched back together, and after several hours I was zipped back up.

Then the next fun part began — healing well enough to be discharged. Once again, Garmin came to the rescue.

Throughout the lengthy hospital stay, my vívosmart became my very best friend and didn’t leave my wrist. I relied on it to keep track of my stress level, heart rate and footsteps. I couldn’t be sure that I wasn’t damaging myself as I started to move around (on doctor’s orders), so tracking my steps helped me find that balance between “it’s good to move” and “let’s not try to do a marathon.”

Once the doctors were happy with my progress, they released me back into the wild to begin the very long rebuilding process. And there was an awful lot to rebuild. For starters, I’d lost a lot of weight. Naturally slender, I’ve always struggled to gain muscle mass but was able to meet my goals with careful nutrition and a lot of gym work.

Between the surgical trauma and the weight loss, I’d also lost a lot of strength. Unfortunately,

I quickly found that exercising was going to be quite restricted. Initially, for instance, the doctors had told me not to pick up anything that weighed more than 5 pounds.

But I was still determined to get back to my customary “eat well and exercise” routine and gain back both my weight and strength.

That’s when the Garmin Index™ scale became my second-best friend. While I certainly needed to gain weight, I specifically wanted to gain muscle. Sitting around eating ice cream (or key lime pie!), while appealing, wouldn’t give me the healthy body that I wanted. The scale was a great way to monitor my body composition and verify I was gaining healthy mass. It tracked my progress toward a more normal BMI, as well as monitoring muscle growth.

It has been a huge challenge, but I’m still getting healthier every day. Happily, my Garmin scale is reflecting my increased muscle mass, so I know I’m on the right track.

Fortunately, I was in fabulous shape before “The Great Abdominal Adventure”*. While I may never be at the level I was before (that much slicing and dicing has ramifications, alas), I will be able to regain a lot of my fitness.

The combination of my Garmin vívosmart and Index scale give me the confidence to push myself each week to get healthier. The watch’s stress level indicator gives me comfort that nothing internal has sprung a leak or is slowly eating away at my insides, and the scale lets me know that my body is returning to a healthy place.

If I had ignored the vívosmart’s warning signals alerting me that something was still dreadfully wrong, I would not have gone into the ER. The gangrene would have spread to other organs, and I could easily have died. Fortunately, it was caught it in time and although I have a rough road ahead, at least I still HAVE a road — the end of which came entirely too close.

So, yeah, my vívosmart truly did save my life!

Garmin wearables were not designed or intended to monitor or diagnose diseases or other conditions.

*“The Case of the Exploding Appendix”?

“Go for the key lime pie; flayed for the operation”?

“How to lose 30 pounds in 7 days in the unhealthiest way possible”?

“The best excuse to overstay your welcome”?

“Triggering ‘Mom Mode’”?

“Cost-justifying your Garmin purchases”?