Please read the General Disclaimer before the case studies.
LUCY HAD TOXIC SHOCK THREE TIMES IN 2008
Lucy's mother Caroline says: My 14 year old daughter Lucy has been very ill twice in the last two months. Her symptoms included severe vomiting, diarrhoea, fainting, skin rash, muscle pain, bloodshot eyes etc - over a week in November (2008), and then again 4 days this month. Each time has coincided with her period, and she started using tampons around this time.
Our concern is that we did try to get assistance for Lucy when she, my husband and I, were all in great distress over her condition. She could not get to the toilet without assistance, and immediately lost consciousness when there. She could not keep liquids down at all for nearly 3 days, quite apart from not being able to eat.
Initially in November we put this down to the "winter vomiting bug" which had been going around her school. However, we were worried enough to call NHS24 at 4 am when we spotted the rash developing. We were asked to take her by car to the emergency admissions, but I was unable to get Lucy up from the sofabed at all. I called back and was asked to do the meningitis test which was OK. We then were told to call the out-of-hours GP who basically told us to let her rest, and try to get her to take some water (!), but he did not visit.
At this point, can I say how helpful your website has been: looking back on what I now believe is TSS, I am horrified at how close Lucy came to being very seriously ill. As her mother, I feel acutely conscious of my lack of awareness of this condition. We want to ensure that other people know about her history now too.
We finally got Lucy to the GP surgery two days later, where she was checked over and diagnosed as suffering from a "virus", potentially linked to thrush. This was despite my having explained that Lucy was menstruating and asking if it could be linked to her use of tampons (I must have had some memory of reading about TSS before). She was prescribed a strong antibiotic and steroid cream. She did not have a blood test, although it was mentioned "if Lucy did not improve" this could be carried out the following week.
Finally we hoped she was back to normal just before Christmas, when she was struck down again with vomiting, high temperature, fainting etc. Whilst this was really upsetting Lucy, I'm afraid that we stupidly put it down to bad luck in catching the vomiting bug again.
It was only yesterday that I picked out the leaflet from the Lillet's box and read it. My husband and I have now researched online and came across your site - thank you. We are all now better informed and will tell others about this.
DEBORAH HAD TSS IN 1982 AND SUFFERED MEMORY LOSS
Deborah says: I am a survivor of TSS. In 1982 I used one tampon and ended up in the hospital in a coma. My question is, can it cause Cognitive impairments? I lost a lot of my memory as a child and I am doing my internship for school at a residential treatment center. I have struggled tremendously with my memory and thinking process. I was 27 when I had it and I am 52 now. I would appreciate any information you could give me. Thank you Deborah.
AKTA says: Memory loss is a common after-effect of Toxic Shock Syndrome, but generally memory recovers. However, as toxins can penetrate the brain there may be a connection with your memory and cognitive ability. It could also be that the toxins have a bigger impact on an organ that has previously suffered. We need to see if there has been any research in this area.
NIA HAD A CLOSE ENCOUNTER IN 2008, AND MEDICATED HERSELF
Nia says: I am e-mailing you after finding you through Google as I am concerned that I may have TSS. I used a tampon on Monday 25th August. I felt a considerable amount of pain in the right side of my stomach and lower back a few hours later so I removed the tampon. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday my body was aching all over and I felt nauseous. Yesterday evening (Friday) I felt really cold and shivery, but my boyfriend told me I was actually very hot and burning up. I was still aching all over and my head was hurting. I took some paracetamol which seemed to bring the fever down and helped with the headache. When I woke up today my neck and shoulders were very stiff and my headache was worse. Throughout the morning I was having cold sweats and couldn't lie down as it hurt my head even more. I have been taking paracetamol every 4 hours. I could hardly move this morning, but now I feel well enough to send this e-mail. I've checked my body for any rashes, but I cannot see anything. Apart from a dull ache in my head and a complete loss of appetite, I don't feel too bad right now. Have I reason to be concerned?
ABBEY FROM NEWCASTLE, UK, HAD TSS IN 2008
On the 30th and the 31st of January 2008, my parents had to keep me off school as I was complaining of flu-like symptoms. I then went back to school on the Friday. I didn't feel 100%, but I knew year 11 was a very important year for me as I was sitting my GCSE 's in the summer. I was feeling fine on the Saturday, so I slept at my friend's house. This was my sixth day of my period and I didn't feel the need to change my tampon as often as at the beginning of my period. The following day I ended my period.
I woke up the next morning, feeling tired and sick, so my friend's mam took me home. As soon as I got in the house I went straight to bed with a big drink of water, as I was feeling very thirsty all the time. I woke up after being asleep for about 3 hours and went for a bath to see if that would make me feel better, which it did as it cooled me down, When I got out of the bath I fell asleep on the bathroom floor. For the rest of the day/night I was asleep until the next morning. All I kept thinking was what's the matter with me?
The next morning it took me about 45 minutes to get out of my bed as my body felt very stiff. I went to see my mam and she must have been wondering what was wrong with me, as it was only half past 6 in the morning. I couldn't explain what I was feeling like as I had never felt like that before. I just wanted to go back to sleep and stay in the same place all day. I knew I felt better when I was lying down. My parents had to go to work that day, so I was left in the house by myself. However, during their dinner break they came to see me and they realised that I wasn't getting any better, I was getting worse. Every time I went to get out of bed I couldn't because my body felt so heavy.
When my mam and dad finished work they made an appointment with my doctor as soon as they could. Thankfully it was that night I got one. I can't really remember what happened at the doctor's, but the doctor thought it would be a good idea for me to go to the hospital as she didn't really know what was wrong with me. I remember being in the car with my mam and I was so sacred.
As soon as I got to the hospital, I was given paracetamol while they were trying to find out what was wrong with me. They couldn't identify my illness straight away, as it's so rare. I think the doctors were quite worried as well because of how low my blood pressure was. When they did find out I had Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), loads of doctors wanted to see me. I felt a lot safer when they knew what it was. When I got told I had TSS, I couldn't believe it, as I had read about the illness in magazines. I didn't tell anyone, not even my close friends as I thought it was really embarassing. When my friends asked I just said no one knows yet. I never thought it could happen to anyone I knew, never mind myself.
I got put on a drip and then got moved onto the ward for 3 days. Every day I was there I felt I was getting better, but still had no energy. I couldn't be bothered to talk to anyone as I hadn't eaten properly for 5 days. All I kept thinking was I am so lucky to be alive. When I was discharged from hospital I had to take antibiotics for at least a week and I had to take 12 tablets a day. I was feeling a lot better and a lot happier. I was off school for 3 weeks because I needed to get my energy back and I wanted to wait until my hands and feet had finished peeling. I am so glad that I'm here to tell my story. Since I had TSS I am more careful about using tampons. I also think my friends and family are glad as well, as when I had TSS it didn't only scare me, it scared the people around me as well.
13-YEAR-OLD ASHLEY OF INDIANA, NEARLY DIED OF TOXIC SHOCK
My name is Amy Hutchison. My daughter, Ashley, was hospitalized on September 15th, 2007 with Toxic Shock Syndrome. She was 13 at the time. However, since we live in a small neighbourhood, the local ER physicians were not able to distinguish what was wrong.
Ashley's story began on the Thursday before. She went to school that morning and was feeling fine. By lunchtime, she said that she had a headache and her stomach was hurting. By the time school was out, she was running a temperature, vomiting, and had severe abdominal cramps. We took her to the Emergency Room and they diagnosed her as having a viral infection. They prescribed Ibuprofen for the fever and the aches. All day Friday, she continued to vomit and had a mucous like discharge that we thought was coming from her rectum. Her temperature continued to rise until it reached 104.3. On Saturday afternoon, we were sitting at home and she mentioned going to the restroom. While she was using the restroom, she started going into a seizure. I immediately called the ambulance and had her taken back to the ER. After spending the day in the ER, they decided to admit her for observation since they were unable to determine what was causing everything. Our family doctor arrived later that night and upon his initial examination of her, he ordered us to transfer her to the Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, IN, USA. By this time, she had developed the red rash that covered most of her body and she was considerably swollen.
En route during the 45 minute drive, she was still somewhat conscious. Upon arriving at the Children's Hospital, they immediately took her to the Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit and started administering medical treatment. By this time, she was unconscious and had slipped into a light coma. When the doctor spoke to me some minutes later, he informed me that is was likely she would not survive this trauma. He told me he wanted me to be prepared. The staff at St. Vincent's Children's Hospital continued to treat her when most places would have given up by then. They started intravenous lines, they inserted a ventilator, and they set her up with a feeding tube and a central line into her heart. After starting her on seven different kinds of steroids and three antibiotics simultaniously, she started to show minor signs of recovery. On Monday morning, a Gynecologist arrived to examine her and see how bad the disease had spread. It had already been determined that this was due to tampon usage. After the examination, the Gynecologist informed me that the mucous discharge everyone thought was her bowel movements was actually infection that had hibernated within her vaginal area, all the way into her uterus. They started another round of antibiotics to clear up the remaining infection. The blood test results came back at that same time and it was determined that her blood was poisoned significantly. They started an intravenous transfusion of blood. She ended up receiving three pints of blood to replace what she had lost through her kidneys.
On Tuesday, we received word that her kidneys were in kidney failure and she was suffering from lung failure as well. But on Thursday afternoon (exactly one week since the symptoms began), they were able to see signs of improvement. Her blood counts were back to normal, all the infection was gone from her uterus and vaginal areas, and her lungs and kidneys were starting to function again. After staying in the hospital for another eight days, she was finally allowed to come home on a Friday. But although she has been home for almost a year, her long term effects are far from over. We found out today that she now has asthma as a result of the lung failure and her kidneys are only functioning at 90% capacity. The doctors are hopeful that the kidneys will heal themselves but they cannot guarantee that. We were also informed that as a result of the severity of her infection she could have trouble conceiving a child later in life. But that has not been determined with any accuracy as of yet. Although her troubles are far from over, she is determined not to let this deadly disease sway her from achieving all of her life goals she has set for herself. And we thank God each and everyday for allowing us the opportunity to continue to watch her blossom and grow into the beautiful young lady that she is today.
12-YEAR-OLD JAIME FROM KENTUCKY HAD TSS IN 2008
Jaime had arrived home from school one day and complained of being sick to her stomach, stomach pains and head aches. Her mother Alison thought nothing of it and assumed it was just cramps and possibly a stomach bug. She gave Jaime a Midol and something for nausea. The next morning when Jaime woke up she had gotten worse with the pain and was now throwing up and complaining with the head aches being worse and a temperature of 102. Alison took her to a nearby ER where they treated her for a negative test of Strep throat and sent her home. As the day went by and Alison watched Jaime lay in bed moaning with the temp bouncing from 102 to 104 back and forth, she was starting to panic. Nothing seemed to break the fever or make her better. That evening when Alison's husband got home, they were talking to Jaime and she just looked at Alison like she was in a state of confusion and was not comprehending what her mother was saying. Alison immediately took her to a different ER. Within 15 minutes they had the diagnosis of toxic shock syndrome.They then sent her to another hospital specialising in pediatrics where Jaime spent 2 days in ICU and a week in the hospitals where they gave her several different rounds of antibiotics. (Alison thanks God every day that the doctor who was at the second hospital was working that night because he saved her life)!
When questioning Jaime about her tampon uses, she stated that she only had 4 minutes in between classes to get her books and get to class and she was using super tampons so she wouldn't have to go to the bathroom as much. This is what triggered TSS. Doctors advised Jaime not use tampons for 6 months after she left hospital.
JENNY FROM MICHIGAN SUFFERS TOXIC SHOCK
I was 20 and using Tampax tampons, with a higher absorbency due to the fact that I had horribly heavy periods (Which is strange because I don't even get them anymore). I went to Munson Hospital in Traverse City, MI and it happened over a period of three months really. I got sick for two months straight and I happened to be on my cycle those weeks. I had kidney surgery when I was a wee thing and it has caused a ton of urinary and kidney infections since then. So the first two times I got sick, I happened to be visiting my parents and they took me to the clinic both times because I don't have health insurance. Both times they told me it was a kidney infection and gave me enough antibiotics to make me feel better until I got sick again. The third time I was back at college and while staying at a hotel with friends for a birthday party, I started getting shakes and a horrible fever. I thought I knew what it was so when they insisted they take me to the emergency room, I declined and they brought me home. The next night I ended up getting sick over and over again and saw that I had horrible rash (which I soon found out was a symptom of TSS). I drove myself to the ER and they admitted me after giving me an IV. My parents were out of town visiting Seattle when I got sick, so I was alone for the first day or so until my grandmother came to be with me. It happened relatively quickly...considering I started feeling sick one day and by the 3rd day I was in the hospital They said my kidneys were starting to shut down and after having to draw so much blood, they decided to put in an IV directly into my neck to keep the veins in my arm from collapsing.
I guess it's just strange to look back on everything and remembering things that I wouldn't expect to remember...like the name of the ICU nurse that helped me up every hour to use the toilet because I couldn't use a catheter. Or when the attendant sat and watched late night talk shows with me my first night because I was scared to be by myself. I really hope this helps someone and I thank you for helping me know that I'm not alone.
CLAUDIA OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE HAD TSS IN 2008
I was in Canada on a ski course training to be a ski instructor and I got Toxic Shock. My first symptom I believe was itching. I can't even explain how itchy it was. I assumed it was a yeast infection, although I have never had one before. So that was on Friday and I got my period on the Thursday. Over the weekend I felt nothing too serious. There was less itching, but it was still there and it was very red and painful. Then on the Monday I began feeling ill. I skied throughout the day on Monday and then around five I was sick. I kept on being sick and then I got diarrhoea. When being sick I was also on the loo, I had no control. Its all a bit of a blur, but I became slowly unconscious, although I can remember certain things. I couldn't keep any drink down, but the problem is, these symptoms are the exact same as the flu, that is where the danger is, everyone thought I had the flu!! Then after three days of being in bed I got taken to a clinic. At this point I could not really move, my muscles were non existent.
I was so unbelievably lucky because the Doctor at the clinic said get this girl to a hospital now and I went straight away and they knew what was wrong with me. I had a tampon in. I was so ill I didn't know what was what, so that could have been some kind of indication. The hospital was in Canada and I'm not completely sure on everything that was given to me. So, I went in the hospital on the Wednesday and then on the Thursday I formed a blue rash. Also, my legs, feet and hands swelled up and I couldn't move. However, I did recover quickly, I was in hospital for five days. But now I am walking normally, although I am defiantly more tired. This is all very recent though, I went to hospital on the 29th of January. I'm quite a strong person, well I hope I am, I am trying to keep myself motivated, but it is hard and when I found out my hair might come out I am a wee bit upset.
The Doctor said that I could have died, maybe if I had left it for 24 hours? How likely is it that my hair will fall out? My after-effects are tiredness, weak muscles and my feet and hands are peeling. I'm just so confused by it all. The tampon that I used, I think was a Canadian one, but I am not 100% because I didn't have my own pack so I used a mixture. I really want people to be more informed about toxic shock, its not something that should be ignored.
KATHY FROM ARIZONA HAS UNUSUAL AFTER-EFFECTS FROM TSS
Kathy had Toxic Shock Syndrome in 1995 when she was 27 years old. Her first period after having her third baby was heavier than usual and so she had to use a super absorbent tampon. When she was in hospital she felt a numbness in her hands and feet and to this day her right hand is weak. She also suffers from an ovarian cyst problem which may also be attributable to her episode of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
She was very grateful to see the Tampon Alert website and said "it seems that no one really likes to talk about Toxic Shock and people seem not to believe that I had it. After reading the website stories I feel I am very lucky to be alive. There were people and doctors who played a big role in saving my life".
Kathy writes, "I had my third child on Feb 24th 1995 and returned to work as a delivery Driver 6 weeks later. The second week of work my period started and it was heavy, something that I was not used to, but normal after having a child. Driving after having a child was extremely hard. I was out of shape and very much behind on my route this day. I noticed that the tampons I normally use were not holding up, so I stopped during my route and picked up Super Tampons made by Tampax I believe. I continued with my route and am not sure when I exactly got done, but it was late.
The next day I was sick. I thought I had the flu. What was really strange is I couldn't break my fever no matter what I took and my feet and hands felt numb. I spent all day in bed. At about 9pm that night I went to get into the tub, trying to lower my temperature and I passed out. My sister found me on the bathroom floor. She right away asked me if I had been in the sun, as I had what looked like bad sunburn. I was so out of it I never even noticed or remember this rash. My sister called my insurance company as at this time you had to call an on-call nurse before going to an emergency room. She right away asked my sister if I had gone to the bathroom all day (I still wonder how she knew to ask this). I told my sister in my amazement that I had not gone to the restroom all day. The nurse told her to get me to the Hospital right away because my kidneys were shutting down.
My sister took me to Thunderbird Hospital in Glendale AZ. My memory is very foggy about the whole incident, but my sister would probably recall better than I can. When they took me into the ER the doctor was very concerned that he couldn't get my blood pressure to stop going down. Then after about an hour or so, he found my rash and admitted me into the hospital that night approx at midnight. I was in good spirits still until morning came. They called my doctor and he didn't show up until the next day around 6pm. They were doing all kinds of tests on me trying to figure out what was wrong. My sister-in-law kept yelling at them that I had all the symptoms of Toxic Shock and they ignored her or probably just didn't believe it. They called my OBGYN and he showed up around 11pm that night. He diagnosed me with Toxic Shock. I was pretty ill by then and remember yelling at anyone who touched me as it hurt.
They immediately rushed me to ICU and called in more doctors. I remember a doctor putting a shunt in my heart and telling me I had a 50/50 chance to survive as I had asked him. I had an IV directly to my heart and one in both arms. I remember that my right hand hurt the worst out of anything on my body. I was constantly having people massage this hand as I do today by my husband. I kept asking them why my hand hurt so bad and the doctor told me that my body was concentrating on keeping my organs alive and that my extremities would be the first to die, but he wasn't going to let that happen. I was taken out of the main ICU in 3 days and moved to regular ICU for another week, then I got pneumonia.
I left the hospital after another week in a regular room. I got out on May 1st 1995 and had problems getting around for about a week. My right hand gave me a lot of pain and was numb. The doctors told me I probably had some nerve damage, but it would improve over the years. It did improve as far as numbness, but still would get achy from time to time over the years. I left the delivery company in 1999 and became a Police dispatcher/911 operator which I still do to this day. This might be the reason I am having problems now due to typing. I have noticed through the years that my typing isn't as fast or accurate as before the toxic shock. My left hand gets ahead of the right hand. I used to play softball all the time and stopped playing because my right hand had problems knowing when to release the ball. I would just throw it into the dirt from time to time which was very embarrassing for me. I did have problems with continual bleeding afterwards and had a DNC, which seemed to clear it up, but my periods have never been the same. I did lose a bit of hair, but do not remember it falling out in clumps at all. I do remember my hands peeling, but not my feet or anywhere else on my body. I don't remember getting sick a lot as a Delivery Driver afterwards, but I probably didn't pay attention because the doctors all told me I wouldn't have any problems afterwards. They did say though that I would need to go to the emergency hospital if I got any flu symptoms, just in case of getting Toxic Shock again.
I went back to work a month after getting out of the hospital I believe and don't know how I did it. I had to, I was a single mom at the time. I was 27 years old, was divorced with 2 children and just had a 3rd child with my boyfriend. We have since married after my Toxic Shock incident. The doctors and nurses all said I got it due to just having a child and wearing super tampons which I never usually did. Short-term memory loss was an issue, and I still have problems at times. My energy level seemed to be fine after about a month or two of recovery. I was in good shape at the time so I am sure that helped. Some more of my symptoms were I couldn't keep anything down. Even after the ER doctor gave me a shot to stop throwing up, I continued. My ovarian cysts disease showed up about a year after having Toxic Shock. I thought I was going crazy! I went to my OBGYN who put me on anti-depressants thinking it was from having Toxic Shock and I felt different because of it. I took those for about 2 weeks, but then threw them into the garbage and changed my primary doctor to a woman who I thought would listen to me more. I am still having treatment for the cysts. I have anxiety a lot, but not severe.
The doctors who treated me were all great and each of them were by my bedside every day, weekend and all. I received very good treatment at the hospital and my OBGYN at the time made sure I did. Well that is my story as I can remember it. I certainly won't be using tampons again.
On Tuesday afternoon, 15 June 2005, 16-year-old Finola Tyson of Preston, complained of headache and stomach pains and asked her mother, Ange, to ring work, to say that she would not be attending that evening shift. It was the third day of her period and she had been using tampons. Around 10pm Fin said she was tired and wanted to go to bed. During the night she was sick and the next morning still complained of a headache and stomach ache. Her mother gave her Paracetamol and rang the doctor. He prescribed some Mefanamic Acid (Ponstans 40) for her period pains, (at mother's request), and also prescribed some tablets to stop her being sick. Ange collected the prescription, administered it, gave Finola a jug of water asking her to drink plenty and left her in bed to sleep. A little later, Ange. asked Fin how she felt and she said she had not been sick anymore and that her stomache ache had improved. She just wanted to sleep.
The next day, Fin had an exam at school, so she was awoken at 7am. She came down stairs in her pyjamas, looking very lethargic. She had a red rash under her arms and was breathing faster than normal. Ange. asked Fin to breathe in through her nose and out through her mouth. It was at this point that Ange's partner John, noticed Fin's tongue. It was red with white spots, like a strawberry. She asked Fin. if she had a sore throat to which she replied she had. Ange. phoned the NHS Help-line and spoke at length with one of the Advisers who said "take her to her GP and don't worry". The doctor examined Fin., took her temperature, checked her throat, confirmed that she had a red raw throat, and diagnosed viral infection. He said that as she was taking her exams, that would account for her panic breathing. The rash was put down to eczema for which she had only recently been diagnosed. Fin was prescribed Amoxicillin for her throat, gel for her tongue (anti fungal), steroid cream for the rash and more Paracetamol tablets. Ange. monitored her daughter through the day, making sure she drank plenty of water and took all her medication.
On Friday, there was still no change, no better, but no worse. Her "strawberry tongue" had gone down slightly and the white spots had subsided. On the Saturday morning, Ange. ran a bath for Fin. She went to her room to say that she would feel better if she had a bath and washed her hair, as she had not had one since Tuesday morning. Fin. agreed, but couldn't get up. She complained that her bones were aching and started to shout at her mother that she couldn't get up. Ange. managed to swing her out of bed and with help and support they got to the bathroom. Putting her into the bath was OK. She left her there for 5 minutes and returned to find she had not moved. Ange. knelt down to wash Fin's hair and then her body. She kept complaining of hurting and being tired. Getting Fin out of the bath was a nightmare, she felt so heavy and kept apologising all the time. Ange. managed to get her dry and back into bed. Ange. suspected meningitis and did the glass test on her rash, it stayed white.
After 3 days on penicillin Fin was worse than ever, so Ange. phoned the doctor again. Being Saturday the calls were redirected to the hospital Primary Care Centre. The nurse on duty said get Fin to hospital as soon as possible. Ange's sister volunteered to take them to hospital and they drove straight there. The doctor called her in straight away. He checked her stomach and phoned someone straight away. There was a definite panic in the air as Fin had drips put into her. Ange. was asked to describe Fin's symptoms and history leading up to this day over and over again. They all kept saying what a good mum she had been and that she had done everything she could have. Then the bombshell, they confirmed they thought Fin had Toxic Shock Syndrome. She was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) around 5.30pm. There was a lot of activity, putting in more lines for drips, etc. The staff where brilliant right from the start, although one nurse was increasingly concerned that Fin was only on Oxygen and needed ventilating as she appeared to be weakening. At 8.30pm whilst a doctor was explaining the severity of the illness, Fin had a cardiac arrest. It felt like an eternity for Ange and John, but then the nurse came to say that they could go and see her. She was alive, but was now on a ventilator. The doctors explained the serious nature of Fin's condition and that they were doing everything possible. They were told that the best thing they could do, would be to go home and get some rest, Fin was going to be in hospital for a long time. They got a taxi back home and after a lot of tears and disbelief that something as horrific as this could happen to a beautiful girl they all tried to get some rest. The telephone rang around 2.30pm. It was the ICU and they said it would be better if Fin's parents came back to the hospital as her blood pressure had dropped dangerously low.
Fin spent four weeks in ICU and after seven operations, lost her fight for life on Sunday 18 July 2004, just three weeks after her 16th birthday.
ALLISON HAD TOXIC SHOCK AT THE AGE OF ELEVEN!
This is the story of an Australian woman who had Toxic Shock Syndrome 10 years ago, at the age of 11.
I had my first period in June 1996 when I was 11. Almost straight away I started using tampons, as my mom suggested them. I got sick about 6 months later just a few days before Christmas.
I was staying at my friend's house and I was on about the third day of my cycle. It was Sunday. I had just changed my tampon about an hour before, when I started to feel extremely dizzy. I could barely stand up, so my friend let me lie down. I slept for about an hour and when I got up I started throwing up.
I went home, and was in and out of consciousness all day and night. I had no idea what day it was. I was so delirious, I told my mom that Jesus was coming. I was so helpless that I couldn't do anything for myself. My mom took me to see my doctor on Monday morning and he took one look at me and told mom to take me to the Children's Hospital.
Once there, I slipped into a coma. The whole time my tampon had stayed inside me as I wasn't aware enough to take it out, and mom didn't know I had my period that day. Anyway, the doctors did MRIs and tried to find what was wrong with me. It wasn't until late Monday that they found the tampon, and then they knew immediately that I had Toxic Shock Syndrome. Whilst in a coma, my brain was swelling to a point where the doctors were considering drilling a hole in my head to release the pressure. Luckily that didn't happen. When I woke up on Tuesday morning the doctors said I had TSS, but hadn't recognised it straight away because of my age. I think I was the youngest person that they had ever heard of to have tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome.
I was in Intensive Care for the rest of the week. I was throwing up constantly and was connected to a drip, but by Sunday I was allowed out. My mom and my brother stayed with me the whole time. Everyone was freaking out. I think they thought I was going to die. I think I almost did at one point, but I was one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately, I was unable to tell them which brand of tampon I had used, as I had taken two different brands with me that weekend.
Recently I was reading the Alice Kilvert Tampon Alert website, about the after-affects of TSS, and I couldn't believe that I got off so lucky compared to others. I did experience loss of hair afterwards. I still get sick very easily, but nothing terrible. I had no idea that TSS affected your immune system so terribly.
ALEXANDRA FROM WISCONSIN HAD TSS IN AUGUST 2004
Alexandra says "I remember almost everything. It is probably an experience I will never forget. On Saturday August 14th 2004, I woke up feeling fine. I was on my period and had been using Tampax Pearl regular tampons. I was only leaving them in for about 3-4 hours. I was always careful because I was afraid of getting sick so I followed the directions carefully".
Alex was visiting her grandparents in North Dakota. It was around 12 noon on that day when she started to notice that her hands were really red, puffy, and itchy. She didn't think much about it as she was going four wheeling. About an hour into the drive Alex felt as though her head was going to explode, it hurt so bad. Her Dad thought maybe she was dehydrated, so sat her down to recover.
"That night my illness got worse" says Alex. "I started to get chills and was extremely uncomfortable. It seemed as though no matter what I did, I could not get warm and then I would be really hot and sweating. I had a fever of about 101. The symptoms were just like I had gotten the flu, but my grandma didn't think it was anything serious, nobody did. The whole next day in the car on the way home to Wisconsin is sort of blurry. Sitting in the car was very uncomfortable. My neck was completely stiff and I couldn't move it at all. This is when I realized there was something really wrong with me. Ten hours later we pulled up to my house and my Mom came out to meet us because she knew that I was not feeling well. With the first look at me she decided to take me to urgent care at the local hospital".
The doctor in the Paediatrics Urgent Care Unit attempted to take Alex's blood pressure using the cuff, but it was so low that it was literally undetectable. Worried, she brought in a big machine to find it. Alex mentioned that her palms were itchy and the doctor looked at the rest of her body and found a "sunburn-like" rash covering the whole of her body.
The doctor decided to admit Alex and did a Lumbar Puncture and a Vaginal culture swab because she told them that she was having a period. They took blood samples for many different tests and put her on intra-venous antibiotics. Early the next morning, the doctor came in and said that Alex might have meningitis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or encephalitis. They still weren't sure. They found Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on her cervix. This and other factors detailed in Alex's medical record is what led doctors to the diagnosis of Toxic Shock Syndrome on the 17th August.
Alex says that she was lucky because she had medical help before the infection went sepsis. The doctors were very unclear. One said that it could not come back, and one said it could more easily. Her condition improved rather quickly because of how fast she got treatment, so she was released on August 18th, 2004. She was given antibiotics, but did not feel like her normal self for quite a while. On September 2nd, she felt shaky and uncomfortable and I really felt unwell. Alex's mom was so alarmed that she took Alex back to the hospital where they took more blood samples and she was admitted for another three days. During that time they found that Alex had a chronic sinus infection.
Alex says "after I was released I was always so tired and just not myself. I had always been very active before I had Toxic Shock Syndrome and I had rarely gotten sick. I noticed that the top layer of my skin of my palms was peeling away. It was really gross and it was happening a little bit on the soles of my feet, but not as bad. I missed a lot of school and had to have a teacher come to my house because it was so hard to get up in the morning. My junior year of high school was very difficult academically. Now I am a senior and doing better., although, I do get sick with colds, the flu, and sinus infections a lot. I do feel like I don't have the same immunity to illnesses as before. I am able to cope with it and this year I have been keeping a fairly good attendance record and have been able to be on the school's Dance Team because that is what I love. Because of getting sick, I had to miss many performances in my junior year".
"I was in the hospital for my sixteenth birthday" says Alex. "I definitely didn't imagine that, for my sweet sixteen. Now I really want to help others to avoid going through what happened to me. I really feel it is important to tell girls about the dangers of tampons, because I feel lucky to be alive. It would be a waste, not to tell my story, even if it could help just one other person".
JESSI, FROM GREATER LONDON HAD TSS IN NOVEMBER 2005
Jessi, a 20 year old singer/songwriter, had Toxic Shock Syndrome when she was on holiday in USA in November 2005. The holiday was in North Carolina, where Jessi and her parents were looking forward to ten days of horse riding, quad biking and Christmas shopping. She was on the last day of her period and had been using a different brand of tampon than usual. The family had arrived on the Monday, but by 6pm on Tuesday, Jessi was feeling ill. Within hours she was fighting for her life.
I was disappointed to start my holiday feeling unwell", says Jessi. "I got up, as usual on the Tuesday, but I was tired and seemed to have a temperature, so went back to bed".
At about 2 pm Jessi's Mum woke her up. She had a very high temperature, headache, stiff neck, aching legs and felt very dizzy. She was shivering with cold and couldn't stand up. Her Mum half-carried her to the shower and turned on the cold water. That didn't help so she went back to bed. The light and any noise were unbearable and then an itchy red rash appeared all over her body. She was terrified that she had got meningitis. Jessi's parents took her to the local doctor. She had to be carried to car. Her Mum put a scarf over her eyes because the light felt so bright. She could sense that her internal organs were "on fire".
The doctor took a blood test which showed the white blood cell count was very high and a blood pressure was extremely low. Jessi's temperature was 102.4 degrees F. As it appeared to be meningitis, they took Jessi to the local hospital by ambulance and she became unconscious. The first test was a lumbar puncture where they took fluid from her spine. Fortunately the clear liquid meant that it wasn't meningitis, but what was it? Jessi went into Intensive Care, where she was put on a drip to replace the lost fluids and to run more tests. Her body was closing down and lungs, liver and kidneys were all failing. Her veins were collapsing and still the doctors did not know what it was or what to do.
After three days in Intensive Care, a Specialist in diseases arrived and asked if Jessi was using a tampon. It was explained that she had finished her period and she had taken it out. The Specialist did an internal examination and noticed that Jessi was red and inflamed so at last, Toxic Shock Syndrome was diagnosed. Jessi was put straight onto a course of antibiotics, and slowly started to recover. However, she was infected with MRSA and had to be quarantined and an allergic reaction to the penicillin made her swell up like a balloon.
Jessi was discharged from hospital after only eight days. She should have stayed for another two weeks, but the insurance wouldn't cover it. She was extremely tired, but is relieved to be alive. She gets infections easily now and is severely anaemic. Jessi doesn't use tampons any more.
Read more about Jessi's ordeal and recovery in Company magazine, June edition, available from 1st May.
WASHINGTON WOMAN SURVIVES TOXIC SHOCK
Shakeira is 28 years old, and describes herself as a stay-at-home mother of 3 children under 6, and has always been pretty healthy. She lives near Spokane in the eastern part of Washington state in north west USA.
In November, 2004, Shakeira was using a super plus tampon named "Beyond", a brand that she had been using for 10 years. She had read the information leaflet, but thought that toxic shock syndrome would only strike a woman if she left her tampon in place too long. As such she always changed tampons every 6 hours.
Shakeira says "the first Saturday in November, I became ill that morning and for some odd reason I knew it was TSS. I was vomiting all the time and knew it was more than a stomach bug. I went to our "small town" hospital and told the doctor that it felt like TSS, and they asked me if I still had my tampon in place. Because I didn't have a red rash or high fever, they told me it was flu and decided to send me home.
On Tuesday, I knew that if I didn't get help, I was going to die. Four days had gone by and I had all the symptoms described on the leaflet. However, I was not in my right mind, and unable to do anything to help myself. My husband was taking care of me, following the doctor's instructions to keep me hydrated; give me nausea medication; and not to treat the diarrhoea.
I don't know how I made it to the car that night and the 10 minute drive to the hospital was unbearable. I was praying that they would not send me home again as I knew I was dying.
I don't remember much of that night, except extreme muscle pain, high fever and my mouth was so sore that I couldn't move my tongue without extreme pain. Every time I sat up I would black out. The next seven days were a blur of pokes, prods and doctors shaking their heads in confusion. I kept telling them that I think this is TSS and they kept asking me if the tampon was still in. (This made me so angry). They even made me submit to a very painful vagina examination, as I was very swollen and tender.
After a week in intensive care and recovery I was well enough to go home. Even though the skin was peeling off my palms and the soles of my feet (typical symptoms of TSS), they still were "not sure" what I'd had!
My recovery has been slow. I was 40 lbs heavier when I left hospital due to the fluid treatment. I don't have the same energy. There is a weakness in my hands. I had extreme pain in my arms and wrists if I used my hands in a certain way. I am on anti-depressants and my ability to handle stress is greatly reduced. I have, what the doctors call, "bows lines" on my finger nails. Now, in February, my hair is beginning to fall out in handfuls."
Shakeira emailed us for help. We were able to confirm that she had had Toxic Shock Syndrome and to allay her fears about her hair falling out (typical symptom of TSS), as it does grow back. This is due to the very low blood pressure starving the hair roots of oxygen. Shakeira said that our help had been "an answer to my prayers".UPDATE
WASHINGTON D.C. SURVIVOR SPEAKS OUT
Erin lives in America's capital city. She suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome in July 2003 when using Tampax tampons. She began to feel ill on the second day of her period. She was about to set off on a trip to Canada, so had to ignore her initial nausea and sore throat. On the second evening of the trip she started vomiting and having watery diarrhoea. Erin went to the clinic in the town where she was staying for medication, but kept vomiting.
The next day, Erin's illness was getting better, but the following evening she had to go back to the clinic and they kept her in for two more nights, growing weaker. The doctors thought it was food poisoning. She was severely dehydrated and her kidneys began to shut down as she returned home to Washington DC.
Two days later (4 August 2003), Erin was VERY sick. She was running a fever, had a "strawberry tongue" and was very bloated. Her kidneys were failing which prevented urination. She was taken to the nearby hospital where they immediately began running tests.
Erin says, "the next morning, my blood pressure plummeted, my heart was racing (pulse of 155) and my fever soared to 104 degrees F. The doctors diagnosed Toxic Shock Syndrome, related to Streptococcus bacteria not Staphylococcus.
For the next two weeks, I remember very little. I know I was on dialysis, on a ventilator, and on massive doses of antibiotics and other medication to prevent other organ failure. My kidneys, liver and gastro-intestinal track were all out of commission and I had drugs to raise my blood pressure. I lost the skin on my palms and soles. Eventually, the fluid they gave me, pooled in my pleural space around my lungs and had to insert tubes into my chest to drain it".
After a month in hospital, they decided that Erin needed decortication surgery. This meant that Erin's lungs were deflated one at a time; then removed from her body to scrape off the infected material; and then replaced. After this she needed two more operations to stop the bleeding. Because Erin's system was so weak, her blood was not clotting properly and there was a real danger that she would bleed to death. Erin had to have multiple blood transfusions.
Erin says "I was released from hospital on September 10th 2003. I still had two drainage tubes in my chest and was incredibly weak. It took me about a year to regain almost full lung capacity. The doctors say that I will never have full lung capacity as there is too much scar tissue around my lungs."
The good news is that Erin is more or less back to normal. She resumed work about six weeks after leaving hospital. Last spring (2004) she and her Mom walked a marathon fundraiser for the Avon Foundation breast cancer project.
"I certainly do not use tampons any more and caution all my friends against using them. Even though TSS is rare, it's so devastating that it's not worth the risk. TSS certainly changed my life. It forced me to take a good hard look at myself, my life, my choices. I've made a lot of changes. Life is too short and you just never know".
BRITON WORKING IN TURKEY, HAS TOXIC SHOCK
It was whilst working in Turkey in 2001, that Gina, from West Midlands, suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome. She had bought a Turkish brand of tampon and had accidentally left one in overnight, when the episode began.
Gina says, "a friend from England had come to visit me for a week and we went for a walk along the seafront. By 11 am, I suddenly felt sick, dizzy and extremely weak. I said that I'd have to go home to bed, as I could hardly stand up. I lay in bed feeling sick, dizzy, confused, dehydrated and I ached so much that I felt as though I'd been run over by a steam roller. I felt that I could have TSS, because I used to work in a doctor's surgery and was aware of the symptoms".
By 3 pm, Gina could hardly move her legs, so her friend and a Turkish friend took Gina to hospital. Although Gina told the doctor it must be TSS, the doctor thought it was sunstroke, until she almost passed out and kept asking for water. Fortunately, the doctor put Gina on a drip and took blood samples. Then she was given intravenous antibiotics. Gina was in acute pain, particularly in her chest and bones, so she was given painkillers and valium injections.
Whilst alone the next day she could hear the nurses saying that it was toxic shock and this was confirmed by an English speaking doctor a few days later.
Gina was discharged after four days of continued treatment and was everso grateful that the staff had saved her life. She says, "when women are abroad, they need to take British quality tampons that are 100% cotton. Lower absorbency lowers the risk of getting TSS."
AKTA comments that scientific research says that Toxic Shock Syndrome can start as little as two hours after the insertion of a tampon. So leaving a tampon in place overnight would not be the cause of TSS. However, women should be discouraged from overnight use as this gives any bacteria eight hours or so to multiply and produce toxins. Also, during a period, tampons should not be used continuously. Women should alternate with towels, and the best time to do this is at night.
The highest risk factor is absorbency. The higher the absorbency, the greater the risk. Women should use the lowest absorbency that they can get away with. Man-made fibre is more absorbent than cotton. Gina is absolutely correct in recommending 100% cotton tampons as the absorbency is lower and there are no known cases of women suffering from TSS when using cotton tampons.
BRITAIN'S YOUNGEST VICTIM OF TAMPON-RELATED
TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME
On Monday 13th August 2001 the Inquest into the death of 13-year-old Kayleigh Ann Jones of Middlesbrough, revealed that she died of tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome, the very first time that she had used tampons throughout her period. The Coroner, Michael Sheffield, was so affected by this tragic loss of a very bright young teenager that he decided to use his special powers to write to the Department of Health to enlist its support to highlight the dangers of tampons, to the medical profession and in schools.
Kayleigh died in September 1999. Thursday was the first day back to school and it was the last day of her period. But Kayleigh became ill with sickness and diarrhoea shortly after arriving at school, and by the afternoon, the school had to call her stepfather, Terry Martell, to pick her up and take her home. She went straight to bed, and her mother Carol nursed her through the night. The next day there was no change so Carol phoned the GP. The Doctor advised giving plenty of fluids as it was probably a viral infection. But this didn't improve the situation, and as Kayleigh's temperature rose markedly, she began to ramble and became delirious, so the doctor was called again. The doctor could not find a blood pressure and immediately gave Kayleigh penicillin as he thought that she had meningitis He called the ambulance and put her on a drip. Kayleigh was stabilised in hospital and TSS was diagnosed. On Saturday there were more tests and treatment and she had a peaceful night. However, the following day Kayleigh's temperature went up again, her lungs filled with fluid and she suffered a fatal heart attack just four days after the initial symptoms.
The Inquest found that the medical staff at the hospital and the GP did all that they could to save Kayleigh, leaving no doubt that Kayleigh died as a result of TSS caused by tampons. A verdict of Misadventure was recorded. The tampons used were Morrison's Supermarket own brand manufactured by Inbrand UK that have now gone out of business. Morrison's are currently supplied by Childwood Ltd.
As a result of the Inquest, Kayleigh's mother, Carol Martell, has now been able to tell the world that the life of her loving and talented daughter has been tragically cut short by a tampon. She has received front page news and an in-depth report in the Northern Echo, followed up with news items in the Sun, Mirror Mail, Telegraph and the Express. Kayleigh's father, David Jones, was interviewed on GMTV and appeared in his local Crawley News, and Jenny Kilvert was interviewed on BBC Radio One.
The media coverage prompted Discovery Channel to include a programme on Toxic Shock Syndrome in their series "Doctor in the House". The programme included TSS survivor Angela Smith of Norwich, who had TSS in November 1992 when she was 19 years old.
KATIE OF NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
In the summer of 1990, Katie, then aged 15, went on holiday to Devon with her family. It was a holiday that she'll never forget.
One morning she woke up with a headache and feeling shivery. Her mother thought that it could be flu and suggested that she should stay in bed. During the day her symptoms worsened as her temperature rose; she had aching muscles, a stiff neck and a sore mouth. By tea time she became breathless and she was so weak that she needed assistance to go to the toilet. Her parents sent for the doctor, who diagnosed a virus and prescribed antibiotics. That night Katie's temperature soared to 102 degrees. The next morning she felt awful and had a severe headache. Her mother noticed a red rash on her leg. Katie's eyes were pink and sticky and her skin was turning yellow. The doctor was called again. He took one look at her and called for an ambulance. She was rushed to hospital.
At hospital, the doctors performed a lumber puncture to test for meningitis and took a blood sample to test for glandular fever. Then the doctor discovered that Katie was menstruating and took a vaginal swab for testing. By now, her joints were swollen, her mouth was blistered, her liver and kidneys were failing and her veins and arteries had gone into spasm. She was transferred to Intensive Care.
The next morning a microbiologist had identified that Katie was suffering from Toxic Shock Syndrome, brought on by the tampons she had been using. She was being treated by the right antibiotics, and the doctors said that they would just have to wait and hope. Katie remained conscious for the three days that she was in Intensive Care. The pain was excruciating. She was transferred to a ward and after a week she was strong enough to go home with the aid of a wheelchair.
Katie felt weak for months. Thick layers of skin peeled off her hands and feet. This was as a result of the blood supply being cut off from her extremities during her illness. Then her hair started to fall out in clumps. This lasted for six months, and it has never grown back to its previous thickness. She realised that her memory wasn't as good and her ability to concentrate had diminished.
Katie remembers being told at school that Toxic Shock Syndrome is caused by leaving a tampon in too long. Now she knows differently. Any woman or girl who uses tampons can get TSS. That's why she'll never use tampons again. It might be rare, but you never know who it might strike next.
JEAN OF SURREY
Jean was 46 when she suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome. It was the second day of her period and she was using tampons. She'd had a headache all day that wouldn't go away, so she decided to go to bed early that evening. Jean couldn't sleep and her headache intensified. Suddenly she was vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea. Jean thought that it must be food poisoning. The next day, Jean felt no better, although the sickness and diarrhoea had stopped. When she began to lapse into unconsciousness her daughter telephoned the doctor, who immediately summoned an ambulance. By this time Jean's lips had a bluish tinge and she was having breathing difficulties. She went into a coma on the way to hospital as her blood pressure plummeted.
In Intensive Care, Jean needed a ventilator and dialysis as her kidneys had ceased to function. Doctors noticed that the tips of her fingers and toes were turning black with gangrene. Over the next three weeks Jean was so weak that she only had a 20% chance of survival. Because of the drugs her weight ballooned from 10 stone to 13 stone. Her blonde hair turned grey and her green eyes turned blue. The gangrene spread to her knee, nose and the back of her head. Jean went into stress and was given a tracheotomy to help her to breathe. Her veins were collapsing and it was almost impossible to insert the necessary drips.
At this point the doctor asked Jean's husband if he could try an experimental drug which he hoped would increase her extremely low blood pressure. Within minutes Jean started to respond and her blood pressure began to increase. She was going to make it, although she was still critically ill. Two days later she opened her eyes and asked where she was. She noticed her black toes. Jean spent six months in hospital and eventually had her toes amputated. Her feet were very painful and she had to get used to walking again. Now she wears special shoes and occasionally uses a walking stick. Jean finds it difficult to concentrate and has problems with her short-term memory.
Jean says that it's a miracle that she's alive today. She has enormous admiration for the doctors, nurses and of course her family who were with her all the time. Jean says that she will never use a tampon again. She has told all her friends and neighbours not to believe those trendy tampon adverts on the TV. "Tampons nearly killed me and they will kill others," she says.
Judy, a 27 year old mother, had been using tampons since she was 12. Her episode of Toxic Shock Syndrome began 10 weeks after the birth of her second daughter. She woke up on the third day of her period feeling tired and her head was spinning, but she had to look after her new baby and her 2 year old daughter. By evening she was exhausted and went to bed really early and just slept. The next morning, Judy got up and felt fine. But an hour after her husband had gone to work she had no strength to do anything. She vomited twice and had severe diarrhoea. She phoned her mother to look after the girls and went back to bed. She felt worse and worse before eventually getting off to sleep.
JUDY OF OXFORDSHIRE
The next morning was the same. Judy was fine until after her husband had left for work. A sudden attack of diarrhoea hit her before she could reach the toilet. Once again she asked her mother to look after the children, and her mother also called the doctor. Judy was taken to hospital by her sister-in-law and nearly fainted. Her legs were so painful and weak that she needed a wheelchair. Her skin was yellow. Judy was admitted to the infectious diseases ward for tests and the diarrhoea was still running out of her. Within the hour they had put two drips into her. The doctors had found her tampon by now and had taken it away for testing. She had a rash on her lower legs and feet.
By the next morning, and numerous doctors later, they had diagnosed Toxic Shock Syndrome. Judy was put on even more drips and had heart and kidney checks. Her fingers and toes tingled all the time, like a burning sensation. The skin on her fingers and toes later peeled off and it was terrifying and very painful. A week in hospital and she was fit enough to go home.
Judy had to take tablets and return to hospital for heart and kidney checks and blood tests. She seemed to recover quite well, but lost her sense of taste for about 5 weeks. She was under health surveillance for 6 months and received the all clear. Then Judy's hair started falling out. It didn't leave her bald, but it was very thin in places. This lasted about two months before getting back to normal.
Judy says that not enough people know about the dangers of tampons and Toxic Shock Syndrome. She will never use tampons again, and there's no way she'd let her daughters use them either.
Annette was a healthy 17 year old at boarding school in Surrey. One Friday, in June 1989, just seven weeks before her 18th birthday, she felt a bit under the weather. She had just started her period and was using high absorbency tampons. By Sunday, she was in the school sick bay, and her worried parents were driving to visit her. Annette had a high temperature, severe headache and "appeared distant". However, it wasn't until the Wednesday that she was rushed to hospital, with what doctors thought was a burst appendix.
ANNETTE OF MIDDLESEX
In the early hours of the Thursday, she was put onto a ventilator, and her parents had what was to be their last conversation with Annette. The doctors advised her parents that she was suffering from toxic shock syndrome, a disease that they had never heard of. During the night Annette's condition suddenly deteriorated and she suffered two massive heart attacks and died.
One Thursday in January 1991, 20 year old Karen became ill with sickness and diarrhoea. Although she was not aware of the connection, she was having a period and using tampons. She called the doctor who initially diagnosed gastro-enteritis and gave her some medicine. Karen continued vomiting, suffered severe diarrhoea and was in agony, and on Sunday the doctor suspected appendicitis and she was rushed to hospital. As she was severely dehydrated, Karen was immediately put on a drip, whilst the diagnosis was being made.
KAREN OF HAMPSHIRE
The next morning (Monday), Karen felt fine and was laughing and joking with her parents. However, her mother noticed that her breathing was laboured and that she had a red rash on her leg. But by 3 pm, Karen's condition worsened and she was given oxygen. By 9 pm she had lapsed into unconsciousness and transferred to Intensive Care. The medical staff did not know what was causing the problem, although toxic shock was considered. She had 15 tubes going into and out of her. At 10 pm Karen suffered a cardiac arrest, and the IC staff resuscitated her, but her condition was critical. At 1 am on the Tuesday morning, Karen had a last injection to stimulate her blood flow, and her parents were told that this was her last hope. Tragically, Karen died at 2.15 am.
Delyse was a 32 year old secretary. Early in August 1993, Delyse started her period and used tampons as usual. However, this time it was to have tragic consequences. On the Saturday morning, Delyse suddenly started vomiting, had severe diarrhoea and a high temperature. She thought that she was suffering from food poisoning. Later that day her partner called the doctor, who diagnosed flu. On the Monday, Delyse went back to her GP who diagnosed gastritis - inflammation of the lining of the stomach. Her condition worsened and on Tuesday she was admitted to the local hospital with a suspected burst appendix.
DELYSE OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
Delyse seemed to be in a stable condition whilst the diagnosis began, but within 24 hours, she was rushed into Intensive Care, then onto a ventilator as her lungs had collapsed. She was then transferred to a specialist hospital nearby, where her condition improved slightly. When her vital organs, including liver and kidneys, failed, Delyse was put onto a dialysis machine. After 5 weeks of fighting for her life, Delyse suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and died on 9th September.
Sharon, a keen sportswoman, died of Toxic Shock Syndrome two months after giving birth to her second child. Her husband Anthony recalls the joy and the tragedy of eight weeks in late 1991. Twenty six year old Sharon used tampons for her first period after the birth of Rebecca. It started one Sunday when she began to feel very tired. The next day Sharon was suffering with diarrhoea, vomiting and a prickly red rash. The doctor was called and diagnosed a virus. But by Thursday her condition had deteriorated. Now, Sharon's fingernails and lips were turning blue, the rash was like sunburn and she was having breathing difficulties.
SHARON OF COUNTY DURHAM
Sharon was rushed to hospital. Her condition improved slightly, but then her kidneys collapsed and she was transferred to Intensive Care. Doctors diagnosed toxic shock syndrome, caused by the tampon that she had been using. The deadly toxins were causing all sorts of problems as they poisoned every part of her body. Her lungs were beginning to fail and she was transferred to the Regional specialist hospital where a lung transplant was considered. However, Sharon was too ill to undertake this operation. Doctors fought so hard to save her life, but after eight weeks of intensive care, Sharon suffered a cardiac arrest and died
Thirty three year old mother of two, Shane, died of tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome in March 1994. On Friday 4th March, Shane said that she felt unwell. During the early hours of Saturday morning she began vomiting and felt awful. She asked her mother to look after the children. By Sunday she was suffering severe diarrhoea, she had a red rash and was now semi conscious. She had a high temperature, her breathing was laboured, and she had pus coming from her eyes. At 9 am her husband phoned the doctor who suggested that it was a stomach bug. Shane's husband insisted that the doctor must visit, but on arrival, the doctor confirmed a stomach bug, and suggested paracetamol to lower her temperature.
SHANE OF BRISTOL
By Monday, Shane's condition had not improved and her mother called the doctor again. The doctor took one look at Shane and called an ambulance. She arrived at hospital at 3 pm and went straight into Intensive Care. But after six cardiac arrests, Shane died at 5.30 pm.
One Sunday in March 1993, Pamela aged 34, took to her bed with a severe sore throat. At the time she knew that a lot of people round about had flu, so she thought that she must be getting it too. On Monday morning she felt really faint. Her husband went off to work, but asked Pamela's mother to phone the doctor. The doctor diagnosed a sore throat and prescribed penicillin. Although Pamela was able to talk coherently to the doctor, she can't remember the rest of the day, not even talking strangely to her husband when he arrived home from work. She felt so tired. The doctor was telephoned again and he suggested looking to see if Pamela had spots on her feet! She did have. The doctor called 'round again and got her admitted to hospital with suspected meningitis.
PAMELA OF EDINBURGH
Luck was with Pamela that evening because the Specialist on duty had seen Toxic Shock Syndrome before. The tampon that had been removed when Pamela was admitted to hospital was tested positively for Staphylococcus aureus and TSS was diagnosed. Ten days of hospital treatment saved Pamela's life, but she was so weak that she had to leave the hospital in a wheelchair and learn how to walk again.
It took months to recover physically and even longer to recover mentally. She lost a lot of her hair, her skin started peeling off and she ached all over. She had been using tampons since she was 17, but never again.
On New years Eve 1990, 22 year old Fiona, woke up with crippling period pain. Her mother phoned work to let them know that Fiona would not be in today. As the day wore on Fiona became worse and started vomiting. At tea time the doctor was called and flu was diagnosed. But over the next few hours, Fiona's condition deteriorated. She started with diarrhoea, her temperature soared and she developed a rash all over her neck. A worried mother called the doctor again at 2 am, and again flu was diagnosed. But next morning Fiona was unconscious and the ambulance was called.
FIONA OF ROSS-SHIRE
On arrival at hospital, meningitis was first suspected, (but it wasn't until 3 months later that tampon-related toxic shock syndrome was confirmed). Fiona's temperature had rocketed and she was surrounded by bags of ice. The intensive care staff worked through the day, but at 3 am the next morning, Fiona suffered a cardiac arrest. The team managed to save Fiona, but the shattering news was that Fiona may be brain damaged, blind and paralysed in all four limbs. In the next two weeks Fiona fought for her life. Her kidneys failed and she needed dialysis, and her toes turned black with gangrene and would have to be amputated.
Three months later, Fiona started to come out of her coma. She couldn't speak, but she could hear and smile. Fiona stayed in hospital over the next year and was on drips and dialysis, and having physiotherapy and speech therapy. She was transferred to a Nursing home to be close to her parents. As a result of using a tampon, Fiona is totally blind, confined to a wheelchair, unable to use her arms and only has limited speech.