Having met her new reality TV husband for the very first time at the altar, in front of her closest family and friends, while the whole thing was filmed for a reality TV show, you’d think Gabrielle Bartlett would be nervous about watching her episode of Married At First Sight go to air last night.
But the 44-year-old single mum has shared that, in the weeks leading up to her first episode on the Channel 9 program being broadcast to Australia, she’s had “bigger fish to fry”.
Listen: Clare and Jessie Stephens debrief on Gab and her sister’s Married At First Sight debut. Post continues after.
Gabrielle said she realised she wasn’t well towards the end of filming Married At First Sight, after noticing she had lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time and that her energy levels were lower than normal.
But it wasn't until she visited her family that she realised just how sick she had become.
"My family and I get quite teary about how serious this could have been had my sister not taken me to hospital a couple of weeks ago," she told The Daily Telegraph.
"Had that not happened I would have been a lot worse."
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare complication often caused by the staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which releases toxins into the bloodstream and causes symptoms of shock. It is more common among women who are menstruating, but there is no evidence that tampons cause TSS.
If left untreated, the toxins can damage organs and body tissue, which can ultimately be fatal.
Gabrielle's history of low blood pressure meant her infection was even more dangerous.
"The infection came to a head and unfortunately I have low blood pressure, meaning things went pear-shaped," she said.
"But I'm home now and getting better daily. The human body is so resilient."
But this isn't the only health battle Gabrielle has had to face: as she was introduced to the Australian public last night, she revealed she was diagnosed with alopecia at age 11.
"When I was about 11, my parents split up... and my hair all fell out," she told the camera.
"I suffer from alopecia. It's a condition in which your hair falls out. There's no known cure, it's not life-threatening, but it's very life changing."
She also revealed that only two people had ever seen her without her wig: her mother, and her daughter. None of her romantic partners have ever seen her without her wig.
"I would hate to see in his eyes that he was not happy," she said of her decision to never remove her wig in front of a partner.
After sharing her story on national television, Gabrielle was flooded with support from others who also live with alopecia.
"Feeling unattractive is very common for those of us who lose our hair from disease, illness or treatment," one woman shared on Twitter.
Listen to The Twins debrief on ALL the biggest talking points from last night's Married At First Sight. Post continues after audio.
"Even admitting it to ourselves is difficult let alone on national television – thank you Gabrielle for your bravery and for creating massive national exposure of Alopecia!"
I know two women with Alopecia and they both rock a bald head like a boss, but I understand the power of identity we women wrap up in our hair. It would be very hard. #MAFS
— Cathy Crawley (@cathy_crawley) February 5, 2018
Nassar you have the whole of Australia hunting you down if you react badly to gabs alopecia - don’t fck it up #MAFS
— Bluesy blue (@stylistblues) February 5, 2018
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