A student who blamed feeling bloated and under the weather on stress was actually suffering from deadly toxic shock syndrome after forgetting to remove a tampon for nine days. Emily Pankhurst, 20, ignored her symptoms as she was busy studying for her final university exams. But one day she realized she had accidentally left a tampon in for more than a week, which was entirely black when she removed it. A few hours later she became faint, began to slur her words and her skin became mottled, so her mother immediately called an ambulance. In intensive care, doctors said she was suffering blood poisoning as a result of toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening infection caused by the tampon. They gave her antibiotics and managed to save her life – but Miss Pankhurst temporarily lost her mobility and is still unable to walk long distances.
Describing the moment she realized she had left a tampon in for nine days, she said: ‘When I finally realized, I pulled it out it was pure black. ‘I wouldn’t have known what it was apart from the string. It was horrible. I immediately chucked it in the loo, I felt sick.’ Miss Pankhurst, who is studying criminology at the University of Canterbury, originally inserted the tampon during her period last month.
But due to the stress of her upcoming exams, she forgot to remove it – and inserted another one instead. After a few days, she began to suffer bloody discharge and a bloated stomach and then started to feel hot and unwell. Her mother Diana urged her to go to the doctor, who took tests but couldn’t find anything wrong.