A model who lost her right leg to toxic shock syndrome from a tampon in 2012 may “inevitably” have to amputate her left leg due to complications from the rare disease, CBS News reports.
Lauren Wasser was only 24 when a tampon led to toxic shock syndrome apparently within a mere few hours of insertion.
According to Wasser’s account she went to a party that night and her friends told her she looked sick, so she drove home and went to bed. The next morning, she was woken up by a police officer who said that her mother had called them, worried about her.
"I remember coming to and hearing the sound of my cocker spaniel, Madison, barking out of control," Wasser wrote in an essay for the women’s magazine InStyle. "She was trying to get me up because someone was knocking on my front door.”
She told police that she was really sick, but promised to call her mom.
"After that, I only know what I've been told," Wasser wrote in InStyle. "The police agreed to check on me again and this time found me face down on the floor. I was unresponsive, had a fever of 108, and was covered in my own feces and vomit. They immediately called the paramedics and rushed me to the hospital.”
A doctor at the hospital noticed that Wasser was wearing a tampon when she was admitted to the hospital, and had the feminine hygiene product sent to a lab for testing. Results showed that it had signs of TSS-1 — toxic shock syndrome.
Wasser had to be put into a medically induced coma as her organs began shutting down. When she woke up, the model had grown to 200 pounds due to fluids doctors gave her to stabilize her blood pressure. She overheard a nurse saying that she needed to have her right leg amputated.
"I'm an athlete, I'm 24 years old," Wasser said in a video interview. "I'm just a girl. I had my whole life. My legs were my life.”
Gangrene had infected both of Wasser’s legs, and doctors recommended that she remove both at the same time. She decided instead to remove only her right leg and attempt to save her left.
But now, she may “inevitably” need to amputate her left leg due to ongoing complications from the syndrome five years ago.
Toxic shock syndrome is usually caused by tampons and can be lethal. It is very rare, with only 337 cases reported in the U.S. in 2015.
Still, Wasser is trying to spread awareness of the risks of using tampons, however small.
"Every time I turn on the TV it infuriates me,” she wrote. “You'll see an ad for Advil or Viagra and hear some monotonous voice warn you about even the smaller side effects like headaches or nausea. When you see a tampon commercial, it's all happy teenage girls running along the beach in bikinis. The dangers are beyond minimized.”
"I am writing this in hopes that you will understand that we, as women, need more education about TSS,” she said. “It is time that we, as consumers, demand safer products and more transparency about what is going into our bodies.”