OTTAWA -- She hovered on the brink of death for a year and never thought she would make it home for Christmas with her four kids.
It's the only gift Christine Caron needs after spending six weeks in a coma, losing an arm and both legs ravaged by infection and enduring months of grueling rehabilitation.
It all began when her little Shih Tzu, Buster, nipped her during a playful game of tug-of-war.
A few days later, she felt dizzy. She went to bed on May 21 and for six weeks, all was dark, punctuated by terrifying nightmares.
When she awoke, she was told that doctors would have to amputate her blackened limbs. The infection had threatened to take her nose and lips.
"I almost went back to sleep because I thought it was another bad dream," Caron says.
She was one of only two people worldwide -- winners of the "s--- lottery," she says ruefully -- to have such a catastrophic reaction to a bacteria in animal saliva because she'd unknowingly been battling pneumonia, which suppressed her immune system.
"I was very depressed," she remembers. "I would have been of no use to the children -- that's how I felt. I felt like an inchworm. I was suicidal, trying to figure out how the inchworm was going to do this, get rid of myself."
A month at a rehab centre was followed by many months of physical and occupational therapy.
"Then they're fitting you with legs and trying to get you to stand up in them," she says. "Then they say, 'Take a step,' and you say, 'Are you crazy?'"
Today, the 50-year-old walks around her home, deftly drinks from a coffee cup and reheats spaghetti for her kids.