A woman has revealed how she was left fighting for her life after developing toxic shock syndrome caused by a small piece of lining from a tampon left inside her.
Mother-of-two Amanda Stanley, 37, of North Shore, Massachusetts, who had been using tampons to contain heavy period bleeding for about a week, awoke on Friday 13th earlier this month with a soaring temperature and flu-like symptoms.
The photographer swiftly made an appointment to see a doctor, who admitted her to the A&E department for blood tests upon discovering Amanda’s 104F temperature, initially suspecting Lyme Disease.
Further tests revealed Amanda was fighting a dangerous strep A infection, but medics were still baffled by what had caused it, and it wasn’t until she went to the bathroom and spotted a fragment of tampon lining on the toilet paper that it struck her what might be behind her symptoms.
She was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome after alerting her doctors, who told her it could have been fatal had she arrived at hospital just 24 hours later.
Amanda Stanley, 37, of Massachusetts, was left fighting for her life after a small piece of tampon left inside her caused the potentially deadly bacterial infection, toxic shock syndrome
Explaining her initial symptoms, Amanda revealed her problems began earlier this month, when she woke up feeling exhausted and feverish.
She said: ‘I was fine the day before and had spent the day out and about with my two kids, but when I woke up that Friday, I had to call their dad, and ask him to come and pick them up, because I knew I was too ill to look after them.
‘I also called my obstetrician/gynecologist and explained that something was wrong and I needed to come in, booking an appointment for 3pm that afternoon.
‘For the rest of the day, I was huddled up on the couch, covered in layers and wrapped in a blanket, as I felt so cold.’
Amanda is now hoping to raise awareness of the dangerous infection, and admits she feels ‘lucky’ after doctors told her she could have died if she had come in just 24 hours later (seen in hospital)
At around 2pm, Amanda called her mother, who does not want to be named, asking her to take her to the appointment, as she was too ill to drive.
Arriving at her appointment, Amanda was checked over and doctors discovered her temperature was 104 F(40 C) – well above the recommended 98.6 F (37 C).
‘That’s when I started to get scared,’ she said. ‘I had never heard of an adult having a temperature that high. I was pretty sure something was seriously wrong and started thinking about my kids and what they would do if anything happened to me.’
Moved to the accident and emergency department at Beverly Hospital, Massachusetts, doctors performed blood tests, hoping to discover what was wrong.
Seen left, the lining from an unused tampon, and right, the piece of lining that Amanda discovered while fighting infection in hospital, that had caused her to develop Toxic Shock Syndrome. She does not know how long it was inside her
When the photographer woke up on Friday 13th this month with a soaring temperature and flu-like symptoms, she made an appointment to see a doctor
Amanda continued: ‘Initial blood tests just indicated my white blood cells were slightly low.
‘The doctors thought I was maybe suffering from Lyme disease – an infectious disease caused by a bacteria spread by ticks – as it’s quite prevalent where I live.’
With a wait of 24 hours before the initial test results to come back and 48 hours for the full results, Amanda was given medication to bring down her temperature.
But when her blood tests revealed she was fighting a strep A infection, doctors remained baffled about where it had come from.
Explaining her initial symptoms, she revealed her problems began earlier this month, when she woke up feeling exhausted and feverish
With a wait of 24 hours before the initial test results to come back and 48 hours for the full results, Amanda was given medication to bring down her temperature
Amanda explained: ‘They were worried about what it was and if there was potential for an outbreak.
‘They had to ask me if I was a drug user in case it came from sharing needles or something.
‘I was pleased that they knew what the bacteria was, but we still didn’t know how it had ended up in my blood stream.’
But, later that day, when Amanda found the tampon remains, which had been stuck inside her, the source became clear.
She said: ‘I went to the bathroom, where I looked at the toilet paper in my hand and realised there was something there.
‘I sort of lifted it out, stretched it and realised it was a bit of gauze. I realised it was a bit of a tampon.
‘I went back to my bed, looked at a clean tampon in my purse and realised it was the lining that holds the cotton together. It must have broken off and got stuck. I had no idea how long it had been there.’
After showing it to her medical team, on July 15, Amanda was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome – a condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins, which can be fatal
WHAT IS TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME?
Toxic shock syndrome is a highly dangerous bacterial infection – but it can be misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other illnesses and because it is so rare.
It occurs when usually harmless Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins.
Symptoms usually begin with a sudden high fever, with a temperature above 38.9C/102F.
Within a few hours a sufferer will develop flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, a sore throat and cough.
Nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, feeling faint, dizziness and confusion are also symptoms.
Women are most at risk of getting toxic shock syndrome during menstruation and particularly if they are using tampons, have recently given birth, or are using an internal barrier contraceptive such as a diaphragm.
While tampon boxes advise to change them between four to eight hours, it is common for women to forget and leave them in overnight.
After showing it to her medical team, on July 15, Amanda was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome – a condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins, which can be fatal.
She said: ‘I feel really lucky. I was lucky that I got to hospital in time, as my doctor told me that if I’d got there 12 hours later, I would have been in intensive care and if I’d waited 24 hours, I could have died.
‘I was really lucky that I spotted the piece of tampon, too, as it meant I could be properly diagnosed and treated quickly.’
With a diagnosis in place, Amanda was able to receive antibiotics to stop the spread of the infection and the next day, she was released from hospital.
She said: ‘I’m out of hospital and I feel great. I’m so thankful that I was treated on time.
‘I knew about toxic shock, because I had read the symptoms on the box, but it was one of those things where I thought it would never happen to me. I always remove my tampons on time and I’m really hygienic with them.
‘Now I know it can happen to anyone. I never thought about the possibility of a tiny bit of tampon still being there. I had two gynecological examinations and no one noticed it, because it was so small.
‘Now I want other people to know about the symptoms, because the sooner you get treatment, the better. I’ll never use tampons again, though – I don’t feel they’re worth the risk.’
I feel really lucky. I was lucky that I got to hospital in time, as my doctor told me that if I’d got there 12 hours later, I would have been in intensive care and if I’d waited 24 hours, I could have died’, she said