Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Whoa, it's all sorts of the serious.

So I've been noticing lately that a lot of my fave bloggers have been blogging about feelings and stuff that goes with feelings. Like more feelings, and cheesecake. Because cheesecake and feelings? They're like, thisclose... So I thought, maybe I should bare a bit of myself (nothing that could get me arrested in 37 different states, sorry) and share with you. You know, more than my first blog post shared with you.

Just a quick note before I delve into the abyss of sunshine, rainbows and darkness; I'm not trying to scare anyone. I'm really not. I do wholeheartedly believe that this is a subject that isn't out there nearly enough. And as a result, I think that most women have no real idea what it's all about.

Cue ominous music.

Toxic shock syndrome.

Yes, we all read those stupid little pamphlets when we first being using tampons, if we ever begin using them at all. You browse over the TSS warning, and then giggle at the diagram of the tampon in the vagina. What the hell did that woman do with her other leg, anyway? Maybe she's a Mannequin. Maybe it's Kim Catrall. I digress.

However, I have survived the 'rare but potentially fatal' TSS... I fought the bacteria, and I won. Barely. What I didn't realize is how incredibly fast it progresses, and how few outward symptoms there really are.

Seriously. All I had was extreme extreme exhaustion and a fever. The exhaustion was so bad I couldn't even care for my son. I woke up on a Sunday in August of last year (and had been fine Saturday night), and could barely get out of bed. I finally was able to make myself get up at noon, because I would've peed my pants. Getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, and getting Son out of his crib exhausted me. I laid on the couch, waiting with my sister for our mom to pick her up. Poor Son ran around in the same diaper until his nap, and he was soaked through. I couldn't even bring myself to throw away his diaper, I left it on the floor where I had unceremoniously changed him and put him in his crib. Then I crawled - literally crawled - back to my own bed. My mom brought my sister back to help take care of Son until Hubby got home, and brought me NyQuil and Gatorade to keep hydrated. I was too tired to eat or drink. I thought I just had a bad flu bug, something that just wiped me out. I'd go from freezing to sweating buckets. That was it. Tired and feverish.

Monday, Hubby had enough. He insisted we go to Urgent Care, and I begged him not to make me get up. It killed me to get up to go to the bathroom, forget about getting dressed. Meanwhile, he had thought I was just milking it. We arrived at Urgent Care, and found out my blood pressure was alarmingly low. My temp was around 103 or 104. They told us we had to go to the ER, so we wheeled down there. We were triaged, and then the real fun began.

We were put into a room, and I laid down. I wanted nothing more than to sleep. Then I got hungry. Mom was kind enough to bring me Subway, but they wouldn't let me eat yet. So they were keeping an eye on my blood pressure... I'm usually 120/80, or thereabout. My systolic was down to 50. I saw my mom's face, and I recall asking her, "I should be dead right now, shouldn't I?" At that point, I didn't care. All I wanted was for the exhaustion to go away. Then the real chills began. ER rooms are always chilly anyhow; they piled me with warmed blankets, but then it made my temperature rise. So off with the blankets. I was racked with chills that shook my whole body. I know now that all the blood was rushing from my extremities to fight the infection.

They took vial after vial of blood, and thought at one point that it was spinal meningitis. How do you test for SM, you ask? Why, a spinal tap of course! So on top of all that's going on, I get to have a gigantic needle shoved into my spine. Yay! Now I'm restricted to laying on my back for the next 24 hours. Not like I was leaving the hospital anytime soon anyway. Until the results came back, everyone was required to wear facial masks. The looks on the faces of my family members told me that I was not doing well. They looked scared. And then I was transferred up to the ICU so I could be carefully monitored and isolated.

After quite some time, I finally had to pee. They were most anxious to collect a cup of my steaming bladder soup, so I was happy to oblige. I was also beginning to feel like my life was turning into an episode of House M.D. No one knew what was going on with me. Spinal meningitis was ruled out (thanks for the useless spinal tap), so they were hovering over my urine like busy little bees. Then a doctor comes in and tells me that I have a severe kidney infection. What?! No way. Well they found bacteria in my pee, so yes... Haha, my body fooled them. TSS: 2. Doctors: 0.

So they begin intravenous antibiotics in addition to the fluids they already had going to rehydrate me (I was very dehydrated) and to flush my kidneys. Good start, but still not enough. I couldn't sit up without a sudden drop in blood pressure. Every time I dipped below 80, my monitor would go off. So I'd be tossing in my sleep; "BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP". Ugh. I slept like shit. So the next day, the fantastic Dr. Burke comes in and asks me the detrimental questions; do I use tampons? When was my last period? What absorbency do I use? And finally, it was TSS 2, Doctors 1. So in addition to the two IVs spewing re-hydrating fluid into my body, I had a catheter going into the vein in the crook of my right arm almost all the way to my heart. The TSS, they said, was attacking my kidneys and liver, and both were going into failure. Had I waited another 12-24 hours, there would have been little to no chance of stopping it. They needed to get the antibiotics as close to my heart as possible so that my body could pump them through as quickly as possible.

And then my room turned into a fucking zoo attraction... I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that I really felt like I was some medical oddity. And oddly enough, I actually kind of was. Most doctors apparently don't get to witness a case of TSS because it's so rare, so people kept coming in and asking me questions. I'm sure my chart was the hot topic around the water cooler. Kind of like the pregnant man episode of Grey's Anatomy.

And then they put in the catheter. The up-the-pee-hole catheter. Oh for joy. Add into this that I STILL couldn't eat; mostly because I couldn't keep anything down. I was feeling better by Thursday, and they finally let me get up and sit in a chair. At least I didn't have to miss Grey's (even if it was a re-run, I didn't miss the irony that my specialist's name was Dr. Burke). So then I got the peehole tube removed. However, I was beginning to swell like Violet Beauregarde. Except without turning blue. Stupid fluids.

Friday they moved me to a regular hospital room. Can I even tell you how much I missed my room in the ICU? They respond to you right away, and in the regular room... Not so much. Not long after I arrived at my new hospital room, they decide they want to give me an IV drip of potassium. In goes the needle with the warning, "This may burn a little."

Ha, let me stick this up your vagina you stupid bitch; let's see how much it stings you.

It was the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. It felt like someone was forcibly holding my whole left arm in an incinerator; and I couldn't get it out. I was immobilized by the pain. I imagine it's how it would feel to be turned into a vampire a'la Stephanie Meyer. I tried to keep as quiet as possible; but I cried out, and tears were streaming down my face. It took those stupid bitches ten minutes to come remove the IV. My poor grandma was there, and she was almost in tears watching me and knowing that nothing she could do would help. They finally came and removed the IV. I did have a really nice roommate there, which helped. I also got to really see my son for the first time, and holding him did more for me than any medication they could've given me. Except maybe Vicodin. They did give me Lortabs to sleep when I was in the ICU. They were beautiful. Damn it, I needed sedation.

Now that my organs weren't in dire straits, the fluids were working through me... I still looked like a fucking white blueberry, and I peed every hour. My poor roommate was next to the bathroom, so I'm sure I woke her up sometimes. I was finally stable again, and I had my first meal that night. I went Saturday evening through Friday afternoon with no food. I was so glad to finally eat again. I couldn't eat much, and not much sounded good, but I was eating.

Saturday passed by without much to-do, lots of time spent alone... From what I heard from Hubby later, he was afraid to go visit me because I looked like Death. He thought I was going to die on him, and to this day he still has a hard time talking about it. It's been nearly a year, and by some grace of God, I don't really feel how close I was to death. It was never a light at the end of the tunnel experience for me; I think I just never doubted that I'd fight it and live. I was released Sunday, and then I had the pleasure of my very first allergic reaction to a medication. I thought I was all invincible/without allergies... Bah whizzers anyhow.

So the pee drained on, they pumped over 13 litres into me (ten litres more fluid than Diane Schuler had of vodka - ha, I win!). It was a lot of pee to piss out. I kept waking Hubby up the first night, because I had to get up to pee every hour. I was still very tired, but I felt so much better. Just being home was fantastic.

I had my check-up a week later, and found out that contracting TSS once gives you a 30% higher chance of getting it again. Wonderful. I hate maxi-pads. Always have. Still do. I hate that warm squishy feeling of having your drawers full of uterine lining. But, I steer clear of tampons. Sorry, Playtex. It was fun while it lasted.

So, consider yourselves warned... I even wrote to Glamour hoping that they'd run an article on it to shed some light on the problem; alas, no article that I've seen. So I'm using my own personal Internet soapbox to tell you all about it. And finally, if you've stayed with me this far... Want to know what they think started it? It was the first time I'd ever used Super Plus absorbency. So change those cattails every four hours, and never use a higher absorbency than you need. Better to err on the low side and have to change more often than to use too high an absorbency.

So I'll end this on a positive note; at my checkup, I found out that I had lost 20 pounds over the course of the week.

That TSS was, like, the best diet EVAR.

8 dished:

Mrs Soup said...

Oh my. That is scary. I am so glad you are alright.

I'm somewhat of a scaredy cat when it comes to things like that....didn't even use tampons until college.

It's horrible that it happened to you, but I'm hoping that this article will help someone.

Sassy Pie said...

Thanks... TSS bacteria lives on the skin like staph, and it's usually harmless. But if it's introduced internally under the right circumstances, well. An acquaintance of mine got it from an untreated strep throat (hers was really bad, two more hours and she would've been dead - she had sepsis and other complications because of it)... So it's kind of luck of the draw. Men can get it, too. It's just slightly more common for women because of improper tampon use.

And usually tampons are safe, but I had been using too high an absorbency. They even told me that I could use them, but to be extra careful.

Aunt Becky said...

freak-a-licious, man.

Sassy Pie said...

Haha. You still love me though, even if I am diseased, damaged goods?

Right, Aunt Becky?


Louise said...

Have you guys heard of the mooncup? It's a new-ish alternative to tampons, good for the planet too

Sassy Pie said...

I have not, but I'll scope it out! I had looked at the menstrual cups they have out now, and they advise against using those if you've had TSS.

Beautiful Mess said...

WOW! That's really scary! I use the super plus "sidewalk sized" tampons at first, then switch to the regulars. I've never really been concerned about TSS but given my history, I should. Thanks for the heads up, love. Glad you're OK!

Sassy Pie said...

Well, as long as you change them frequently and you don't use too high an absorbency, you should be okay. :)

Thanks, hon!