A 20-year-old university student from Kent in the UK faced a life-threatening illness after forgetting to remove a tampon.
Emily Pankhurst began feeling unwell while studying for exams, and was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome (TSS) when she removed the tampon nine days after putting it in, Daily Mail reported.
“I was feeling really ill by that stage. I was hot and dizzy and felt really strange,” Pankhurst told the Mail.
Pankhurst initially dismissed her symptoms due to stress. She then went to the doctor who carried out tests, but nothing was found wrong.
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TSS can be hard to identify because many of its main symptoms, including high fever, rashes and vomiting, are associated with more common illnesses.
“I was bleeding more and my mum suggested I feel about and see if there was anything there,” she added.
Pankhurst then found the tampon after taking a shower.
“I thought it was disgusting to be honest,” she told the Mail. “But I also thought once I'd removed it, I would feel better.”
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But it quickly became clear that the worst was not over.
“My speech slurred and my skin became mottled. I started to feel faint and I was rushed to hospital by ambulance,” Pankhurst said.
Doctors gave her a number of antibiotics after diagnosing her with TSS.
“I've never been in pain like it so was given morphine and doctors said if I had left it any longer I would be dead,” Pankhurst added.
She said that her mother had saved her life, and also thanked her boyfriend for his support during the illness.
Although she is now recovering, Pankhurst has been left temporarily paralysed.
“I need time to let my body recover. I want to get on but I end up sleeping for 13 hours a night and then in the day too,” she added.
According to Vice, TSS was more common in the 1980s, being contracted at a rate of six in every 100,000 women in 1980. Six years later, the rate had dropped to one in every 100,000, but no recent research has been carried out on the scope of the illness today.
Four women contracted TSS in the space of a month in Michigan at the beginning of 2016, prompting local health officials to report the outbreak to the Center for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration. All of them were tampon users.