CALGARY -- Madeline Belle remembers paramedics carrying her down the stairs and then brief flashes as the team at Alberta Children’s Hospital worked to stabilize her — where she ended up in the Intensive Care Unit.

After eliminating exotic diseases as the reason she became sick, doctors eventually discovered the healthy, 17-year-old’s sudden health crisis was the result of Toxic Shock Syndrome — a staphylococcus aureus infection that doctors told her was likely linked to tampon use.

"I got really, really sick, I got super tired, super lethargic," she told CTV Calgary.

"It was really scary ... just seeing the fire department come and that sort of thing, and I had to be carried out on a tarp, like down the stairs."

Doctors told Belle the infection in her blood stream advanced so quickly it could have taken her life.

"They had no idea so they had to wear face masks and gloves and yellow gowns and that sort of thing, because they didn’t know what they were dealing with," she said.

Toxic shock is relatively rare but can be triggered by a cut becoming infected or by a foreign object in the body. While it can often be treated with antibiotics, in extreme cases it can lead to amputation, and even death.

"You think of this thing as 'oh, you just got a little sick,' but it can be fatal. It legitimately could have killed me," she said.

Belle says she wants other young women to be aware and to get help at the first signs of possible illness.