What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Mum officially died for a second...

But today, we just celebrated her 75th birthday.

Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare but serious bacterial infection that can be (but not always) caused by tampons.

In the 30 years since Mum's dalliance with death, it's very rare that anyone knows what I'm talking about when I mention TSS.

So today, to celebrate Mum's badass strength and victory over an illness that very nearly killed her...

⚠️ I'm bringing a little TSS awareness.

When I was 9, I woke up to a strangely empty house. Running downstairs, something felt different, I stopped when I saw my next-door neighbour in the kitchen.

She said, 'Mummy's been taken to the hospital during the night. It's ok, Daddy will be home later to take you to see her.'

Everything in my little 9-year-old body froze. Everything that was important to my little world was in danger, the safety and security of home life, and the terrifying thought that something was wrong with Mum.

Mum had been ill for a week with a nasty bug, and to make matters worse, she'd also been on her period. And let's face it, who wants to be a snotty, feverish mess AND deal with a heavy period? So, she had chosen tampons over pads.

But at the tail end of her period, fever brain had got the better of her, and she totally forgot she'd put a tampon in.

48 hours later, the damage was done.

The tampon had caused microscopic tears in the vaginal walls, opening the doors for a staphylococcus infection into her bloodstream.

You see some of the symptoms are:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat or problem swallowing.
  • Redness of eyes, mouth, and throat.

The same symptoms that a feverish bug may cause!

Dad called the GP at 2.30 pm to make a house visit.

It wasn't until the THIRD call to the GP (who was playing golf!) that he came and then decided to admit her to the hospital at 11.30 pm that night!

It was a few days before we were allowed to see her.

I remember her being unrecognisable, tubes were coming from everywhere.

I remember the beeps of a life support machine that haunt me to this day and a very frail, pale body in the bed that looked nothing like my Mum.

She had 5 emergency ops to find the source of the infection and 3 cardiac arrests!

👉 She was in a coma for 2 weeks.
👉 She went into kidney failure.
👉 She lost her hair, and her nails started to fall out.
👉 And stayed in the hospital for 2 more weeks to recover.

Dad got really good at doing pigtails!

Our lives were never the same again.

And the trauma of it still lives with me, with all of us.

If you have never heard of TSS, please educate yourself a little more.

Talk to friends and family and make them aware of the dangers, too.

Let's END the silence and shame around periods and menstrual health.

Have you heard of TSS?