Phoebee Bambury shares her story and experience of toxic shock syndrome.
I've just got home after almost two weeks in hospital.
I wanted to write this post to raise awareness, because things could have turned out VERY differently.
I was admitted to hospital with toxic shock syndrome (TSS). For those of you who don't know what that is, it is a rare but life-threatening condition caused by bacteria getting into the body and releasing harmful toxins. It's commonly associated with tampon use, but can be caused by a variety of things in either gender such as having cuts or breaks in the skin, burns or a staphylococcal infection such as cellulitis.
It's only because I was aware of the symptoms and got myself to a hospital QUICKLY that I have managed to return home so soon.
I had a very high temperature around 9pm the evening before I was admitted, I took some paracetamol and went to bed. In the early hours of the morning I woke up shivering uncontrollably, and I was aching all over. It would have been so so easy to just think 'Oh I'm probably coming down with a virus, I'll see if it calms down in a day or so' (which is exactly what 3am 'have you SERIOUSLY just woken me up because you're shivering' Scott said) but straight away TSS came into my mind and having known people who have died as a result of the illness I didn't want to take the risk, so I phoned 111, who told me to get straight to a hospital.
Within 10 minutes of arriving I was on a bed in A and E, with a drip, blood being taken and an industrial sized fan on me as my temperature was 39.7 degrees (even though I felt like I was in an ice bath). What followed were days of being very very poorly. I had an extremely low blood pressure, a constantly high temperature, rashes all over my body, I was being sick a hell of a lot and I was in agony. My face, my wrists and my ankles swelled up and I looked like Violet Beauregarde.
I was taken to the Clinical Infections Ward, where they weighed me and it turned out I had gained 5kg in just 2 days due to the swelling. I was put on about 6 different antibiotics, IV fluids for a week and morphine. I estimated I've had around 65 needles jabbed in me during my stay and some of the IV medications caused me to temporarily have blurred short distance vision which was pretty terrifying. Thanks to the expertise of the staff I began to improve pretty quickly although it has been very up and down.
What I'm trying to get at here is that things could have become ugly very quickly, TSS can be FATAL and I have been so so LUCKY.
I urge you all to familiarise yourself with the symptoms:
*a high temperature (fever) of 39C (102.2F) or above
*flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, chills, muscle aches, a *sore throat and a cough
*feeling and being sick
*a widespread sunburn-like rash
*the whites of the eyes, lips and tongue turning a bright red
*dizziness or fainting
If you have any combination of these seek medical advice straight away, it just isn't worth the risk!
The last 2 weeks have been hell for me, I had one parent on a cruise in Barbados and another skiing in the Alps. I couldn't have gotten through without help (and a never-ending supply of snacks) from my amazing grandparents, friends, boyfriend and all the staff on Ward 117 at UHNM who have kept me sane.
I absolutely cannot fault the care I have received there. They've been a shoulder for me to cry on, and on a few occasions be sick on.... Their compassion and kindness has been unbelievable and I can't thank them enough.
I'm now home, with 17 different medications, including hella strong antibiotics, morphine and tramadol, that I have got to try and suss out for myself and a number of precautions to take. I've been told to expect my skin to peel off in places (it already has started on my face and hands) and possibly for my hair to fall out in patches over the next few months...
I'm going to take the next few weeks very very slowly as I'm still pretty poorly, but I just wanted to say that I am so so grateful simply to be here right now. If I had ignored my gut instinct and waited a day or two before seeking medical advice there's a possibility I may not be here to type this, instead I could be hooked up to any number of machines on an intensive care unit or worse.
So please please please, make yourself aware of TSS and never ever take the risk, it simply is NOT worth it.