The Rarity of Toxic Shock Syndrome

Yesterday morning I learned of a young mother of three beautiful children that is currently fighting for her life due to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS.) I do not know the cause of her illness but I do know what her family is currently going through and I am heartbroken for them. Today two of my friends sent me a story of a 15 year old Michigan teenager who almost lost her life due to TSS from tampon use and then I got angry. In every story written about another person who has fallen ill with this authors state how rare it is. I’m not saying it’s not rare…but why did Lauren Wasser lose her leg due to it,  why did Jemma-Louise Roberts die from it at just 13 years old, and why did I almost lose my life too? It’s easy to talk about how rare it is. It is much, much harder when you are one of the rare unlucky people who get it.

It is easy to talk about how many people use tampons and don’t get sick. Yes, that’s a fact. But what if it is you or your sister, wife, daughter? Sure, it probably won’t happen to you. But if it does? I’ve tried in many posts throughout this blog to describe what it’s like but I’ll try again more concisely. You will start to feel like you are coming down with the flu. You will get a high fever, most likely diarrhea, and you will feel weak. You may get dizzy because your blood pressure has plummeted. Your nose may start to bleed as your platelet count decreases. You will go to the doctor. You will never imagine that two days later you will be in intubated and in a coma. You will be very scared when you start to hear the crackling in your lungs as they begin to fill with fluid. If you are lucky the antibiotics will work and you will live. But your life will not be the same. Even as you regain your strength and look “normal” again you will not know what normal is anymore. Your normal may include depression and anxiety with a side of PTSD. You may  have flashbacks on a daily basis that are exacerbated every time one of these stories come up again. You may cry because you know what their families are going through. You know what they will continue to go through. You know becuase you lived it.

But hopefully that will remain my story, and mine alone. I’ve talked about alternatives in a previous post but many people have asked me about them since I started this blog. I’ll go through them again here:

Menustral Cups

menstrual cup is a type of feminine hygiene product which is usually made of medical grade silicone, shaped like a bell and is flexible. It is worn inside the vagina during menstruation to catch menstrual fluid. They can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and there is no known association with TSS from their use. There are many, many brands. One of the many benefits to them is that they are friendly to the environment AND the wallet. You do not have to replace them so they will not clog up landfills the way sanitary pads and tampons do. Here is a youtube comparison of several different cups for your viewing pleasure:
Please don’t talk to me about how awkward they are to use or how “gross” they are. I am stunned when I read comments saying things like that. When you are admitted to the hospital you check your dignity at the door. You are poked, and prodded, with tubes sticking out of you. You are given sponge baths and use bed pans. Figuring out how to use a cup in the privacy of your own home is the preferable option. I can promise you that.
Period Panties
These are panties that are moisture wicking, anti-microbial, absorbant (can hold up to 2 tampons worth,) and leak resistant. If you don’t want to wear anything internally these are a great option to try. If you purchase one pair, a woman in Africa will receive 7 pairs to use for herself.  They come in several sizes, three colors, and six styles. Here is one youtube review but there are many, many there to watch:
And of course there are sanitary pads.
If you choose to continue using tampons, okay. I’m not going to raid your cabinets… but don’t you dare sleep in them. Never again. Not even once. I’m not going to go around asking you what you choose to use once a month but I swear if I ever find out you are sleeping in a tampon or not changing them frequently I may have to punch you. I would rather do that than watch you suffer the way I did and do.
I am praying with all my might for the two familes I learned about. I’m praying that my message is reaching people. I am praying that not one more woman gets sick from tampon use. Life is so unpredictable and I know there are a million other ways to risk your life. I just don’t believe this should be one.

7 thoughts on “The Rarity of Toxic Shock Syndrome

  1. Hi Gorgeous girl, I have sent this to all my girls at work and lots of my friends with young daughters, also sent to some of my boy friends with girls. Two of the girls i work with are listening, sorry u had to go through what u did to get this awareness out there. Love to u and your boys xxxx


  2. Just found your blog after seeing it on Riley’s page. Thank you so much for what you are doing to spread the word about TSS. My healthy, strong 14 year old daughter spent 5 days in PICU his past November with TSS. I am an RN, and because of that I believe I was able to connect her symptoms to her tampon use and act quickly to get help. She was very, very sick, but today, by God’s grace she is healthy again.
    I was, and continue to be, amazed at how benign the symptoms are initially. Anna presented with what appeared to be the stomach flu, or strep. I could have easily put her back to bed that morning and I know if I had, our story would have a very different ending.
    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.


  3. I love how you perfectly describe how I feel. I’m an 11 year survivor. I feel blessed and truly lucky to have survived! But it’s also true my life was turned upside down.. I can still experience panic, not as much but it’s still there. There is always a constant reminder. Some sort of trigger. Glad you survived and are still surviving!


  4. Hey I just found your blog my son was 9 was diagnosed with strep toxic shock syndrome that went septic.. He was in complete renal failure and was put on life support for 14 days and had a stroke.. We were in picu for 21 days and in hospital for 51 days.. He is my miracle baby.. When I seen your story my heart stopped.. People think this can only happen to women and girls but it can happen to boys and men.. Thanks for sharing your story I tell his story to anyone that will listen hoping it will save someone’s life..


    • Just had to respond to this post. Yes, males can get Toxic Shock Syndrome! Anyone can! My 18 year old son came down with TSS after suffering a stab wound from a large piece of glass. He was so sick with all of the classic symptoms but ER docs didn’t figure out what was wrong with him until 3 different visits. Only after I kept googling the symptoms and insisted it was TSS that they agreed it might be and transferred him to a full trauma hospital did he get appropriate treatment. He ended up in ICU and spent 4 days in the hospital. Please tell everyone that TSS is NOT just a female’s disease!


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