Marc and I married April 24, 2010. We knew we did not want to wait a long time to start a family and in one year we decided it was time. We tried exactly one month before I found out I was pregnant with Harvey. He was the sweetest and easiest baby. I took to motherhood the way I took to chocolate. I just loved it so much and wanted more. Harvey was only 8 months old when we started trying for Ollie. Two months later we were blessed again. Fast forward 10 months later and I was a sleep deprived maniac juggling a 19 month old and a newborn with my husband away. I knew we would wait much longer before we tried for a third. In my head I thought around Ollie’s second birthday. I didn’t last that long. As my two loves grew bigger I found myself aching for a newborn again…one that I could hopefully dress in pink. At 18 months I decided it was time to get my Mirena IUD removed. I made my appointment and on Tuesday, March 26th I showed up and left the office fifteen minutes later. The whole thing happened without incidence. Two days later I got my first real period since I had Ollie. I went to the store and bought some tampax pearl, the brand that was my favorite from the time I discovered it in my early 20’s. Friday night I slept in it. Saturday morning my usual little alarm clocks woke me up around 7 and I removed it. It was in for a maximum of 8 hours. Sunday night I started to feel shaky and achy. I was so, very cold but Marc told me I was burning up. I didn’t think to take my temperature. I figured I was coming down with the flu.
Did you ever watch the show House? I was a huge fan. I loved all the complexities of the cases, House’s sarcasm, and eventually watching him save the day. I really got a kick out of it. Then I became a House patient. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me. They asked me when my last menstrual cycle was. I told them. I asked the doctor at urgent care about Toxic Shock. It was dismissed. No one asked me if I had any medical procedures done and I never thought to mention the IUD. My friend, Kelly, moved wind and water to make sure that message got to my nurses and doctors. When they found out about the IUD removal a light bulb went off, Toxic Shock Syndrome! Bing, bing, bing! You’ve won the prize. They started treating me and it worked.
When I woke up one of the doctors from my obgyn practice came and visited me. She was actually the doctor that put in my IUD 18 months prior. She was defensive. I told her I didn’t blame them. She said the test for Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever had not come back and that my symptoms fit that. She said that there is no documented literature of any issues with IUD removal. I told her that I had slept in my tampon. I asked her if she thought it could be TSS. She said no. She told me horror stories of women leaving in tampons and forgetting about them for months, having sex with them in, putting one in on top of the other. She had never had a case of it. She said I did not have a the tell-tale rash that often accompanies TSS. I wasn’t shedding my skin. It couldn’t be TSS.
I was the star of my very own House episode except it didn’t feel like it was going to end. Every other doctor was telling me TSS from IUD removal. My obgyn practice was adamantly denying that was possible from removal OR tampon. I am a trusting patient. I wanted to believe her but the treatment for TSS saved my life. Upon discharge the infectious disease doctor flat-out told me that he did not care what they said. They wanted to avoid a lawsuit (something I never considered.) Every symptom I had fit TSS, that’s what they treated me for and they saved my life. Okay, I believed them.
Shortly after I was discharged a story came out about a model that is suing a tampon company after losing her leg. I read her story and then I consulted doctor google and found so many more stories. I have also found stories of men and children getting TSS from other reasons so I am not saying it is the only. All I am saying is that when I think of my own story I believe it was from sleeping with a tampon in and not the IUD removal. The truth is I will never truly know because there was only a two-day difference between the removal and my tampon use. I do however know that there is a warning label on every tampon box for a reason. I do know that it is rare. I also know it is not as rare as you think. I do know that you put your life at risk every time you get in a car, fly on a plane, or in this crazy world even go to work. I also know that you don’t often have much of a choice but to do those things. You do, however, have a choice of whether to use a tampon. There are pads. There are menstrual cups. There is a new underwear made for it. There is even a woman who ran a marathon on her period without wearing one. Sleep in a diaper if you have to. You have choices and a tampon does not have to be one of them.