Most women have heard of Toxic Shock Syndrome. It’s a rare but possible risk of using tampons, and it could kill you. Emily Pankhurst learned that fact earlier this month when she left a tampon inside her body for nine days — and nearly died as a result.
You may be wondering how the young woman, a criminology student at the University of Canterbury in Kent, could’ve forgotten a tampon for nine days, but Pankhurst said she was very busy and stressed out about her studies, The Daily Mirror reported.
She put in the tampon in January during her last period, and in the busy rush of the day simply forgot. The next time she used the restroom, she simply put in a second tampon. She removed it later, but forgot about the first one.
For a few days, she felt fine. But then the symptoms started — a bloated stomach and blood discharge. Again, Pankhurst explained that she was so stressed at that time that she chalked up her exhaustion and sickness to being overworked.
Nonetheless, the young woman went to the doctor, hoping to find an answer to her strange symptoms, The Independent reported. He performed some tests, but couldn’t pinpoint the problem.
“I was feeling really ill by that stage. I was hot and dizzy and felt really strange. I was bleeding more and my mum suggested I feel about and see if there was anything there.”
So Emily took a shower and began to investigate. And this is where the situation started to get very disgusting.
Nine days after she inserted and forgot about the tampon, she finally discovered it. By then, she said it was “pure black” and “obviously coated in bacteria.”
“I wouldn’t have known what it was apart from the string. It was horrible. I immediately chucked it in the loo, I felt sick.”
Emily hoped she’d feel better after removing the source of her sickness, but “just half-an-hour later my speech slurred and my skin became mottled.”
That’s when her mother, Diana, remembered the warnings about Toxic Shock Syndrome as her daughter’s sickness worsened.
“I was sat in the dark. I can’t remember much, but mum said I kept repeating, ‘I feel ill – my stomach.'”
An ambulance was called and Emily was rushed to the hospital, and not a second too late. She was admitted to intensive care and diagnosed with blood poisoning as a result of TSS, caused by the tampon she’d forgotten for nine days.
That oversight meant that the tampon gathered bacteria for nine days and ultimately caused a serious infection, which then entered her bloodstream. In order to save her life, doctors had to ply her with 12 different types of antibiotics for three days. Pankhurst was fed through a tube and was outfitted with a catheter because she hadn’t been able to urinate.
“I’ve never been in pain like it so was given morphine and doctors said if I had left it any longer I would be dead.”
Three days later, the young student was transferred out of ICU, but she still can’t walk long distances and hasn’t been able to return to school. Now home, she credits her mom with saving her life.
“I put my illness down to stress and ignored the symptoms. But mum knew it was something more and pushed me to feel better.”
Pankhurst said she will never use a tampon again. Young women, she added, probably aren’t aware of TSS. The condition is rare and caused by Stapylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, Huffington Post UK reported. When these bacteria enter the bloodstream, it can release poisonous toxins that damage tissue and organs.
No one knows why tampons can cause the condition. One theory holds that if you leave a tampon in for a long time, like nine days, it fosters bacteria growth. Another theory is that tampon fibers scratch the vagina and allow the bacteria to enter the blood through the wound.
[Photo By gpointstudio/Shutterstock]