By: Danica MacLean
Whangarei student Grace Morgan has a warning for others after toxic shock syndrome caused her organs to fail and could have been fatal.
The 16-year-old wants to make sure others know about the condition and is urging other women who are having their periods and experiencing symptoms like hers to seek medical attention immediately.
A Hamilton teen was diagnosed with the same illness earlier this year, prompting Grace to spread the word on the illness.
Grace was struck down with the rare, and potentially fatal condition in July last year. It started while she was at work.
“I just started having this pain over my whole body, kind of like an ache.”
Overnight her symptoms developed into vomiting, diahorrea, a high fever and a rash, which started on her stomach and spread up her chest and neck and on to her thighs. The next day she saw a doctor at White Cross.
“He was not happy – my heart rate was really high and my blood pressure was low.”
She was given medication for that, but the doctor said if it hadn’t improved in 30 minutes, she had to go to Whangarei Hospital. It didn’t improve, and she duly went up to the hospital.
“My blood pressure was so low at that point it wouldn’t read on the machine.”
She said initially the nurse thought the machine was broken, but later staff realised her blood pressure wasn’t reading on any machine.
“At this point I don’t remember much, I was asleep and it’s a bit of a blur.”
In the emergency department, mum Shona Morgan said once staff realised Grace was on her period and using a tampon, a diagnosis of probable toxic shock syndrome happened pretty quickly.
Grace was admitted to the intensive care unit with liver, kidney and heart failure. She was put on three lots of IV antibiotics and spent two days in ICU followed by three days in a ward.
A diagnosis of toxic shock syndrome was confirmed two days after being admitted following a blood culture.
Grace said she was aware of TSS from the pamphlet in tampon packaging and conversations with her mum.
“I knew that there was a risk if you leave it in for too long, so I never did.”
After her diagnosis, doctors told her there is no length of time that was more of a risk and just using tampons puts people at risk.
“My risk of TSS is increased if I use tampons again.”
She was told to go home and throw out all of her tampons – which she did.
Grace is now fully recovered, but is telling her story so that others do not have to go through the same trauma.
A Northland District Health Board clinician said toxic shock syndrome was a very complex condition.
He said anecdotally, there are two to three cases per year in Northland. It could also be caused by infected wounds, not just tampon use.
Its symptoms include high fever, rash, low blood pressure, organ failure, palms and soles peeling, vomiting, diahorrea and muscle pain.
Source: NZ Herald