What is toxic shock syndrome
A model has bravely shared her near-death experience after contracting toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from a tampon.
In a candid interview on the Diary of a CEO podcast with Steven Bartlett, 35-year-old Lauren Wasser revealed how she lost both of her legs as a result of TSS and discussed her harrowing journey.
Lauren, from California, recounted the initial onset of her illness, describing flu-like symptoms that gradually worsened over time. Eventually, she was found unconscious, covered in faeces and vomit, on her bedroom floor. Concerned for her daughter’s wellbeing, Lauren’s mother contacted the police.
With her temperature soaring to 107F (41.6C), Lauren was rushed to the hospital where she suffered a heart attack and was placed in a medically-induced coma. It was during this critical period an infectious disease doctor suspected TSS and requested an examination to determine if Lauren had been wearing a tampon. The tests confirmed the diagnosis.
Upon awakening from her coma, Lauren received devastating news – the damage caused by gangrene in her legs was irreversible, requiring amputation. Recounting the moment she learned of this life-altering decision, Lauren said: “My feet were on fire, it was like someone was lighting my foot on fire, the burning sensation was insane.
“My right leg was worse than my left, my toes on my left were turning purple but my right side, there was a lot more damage, you could tell. So then the concern came in that basically they needed to amputate my right leg to save my life or I was going to die.”
Lauren said she then heard a nurse talking on the phone and learned she would need to have her legs amputated. She said: “I am lying there, my room is empty and I can hear a nurse behind a curtain, she is saying, ‘I have a young girl here, she is 24 years old, who’s going to need a right leg below-the-knee amputation.’
“I remember looking around and thinking, ‘Is she talking about me, she’s saying I am an amputation?’. “And I just started screaming, I was screaming for my mother, my godfather, I was screaming for everyone, saying, ‘Do not let this person touch me’.”
Although initially opting for just one amputation, over the next six years, Lauren endured severe pain in her remaining leg. Ultimately, just before her 30th birthday, she made the decision to have her left leg amputated as well.
Now, Lauren is dedicated to raising awareness about TSS and its prevention. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare and sometimes life-threatening illness caused by infection as a result of certain types of bacteria.
She said: “[Tampons] are made using chlorine bleach, dioxin and synthetic fibres, which create the perfect storm in our bodies,” she said on the podcast. “I have been working with a mother who lost her teenage daughter to TSS when she was 18 – Madeline Mosby.
“Through the darkness and trauma of that we have joined forces in wanting to change the world and wanting to advocate and pass these bills. She’s been doing a lot of the groundwork like starting her foundation DontShockMe.org . There is a bill that we are working on to pass.”
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