My story starts on June 23rd, 2007. I was at a Dance Nationals in Michigan. I had my period and I would change it every 2-3 hours. I had my old kind but since I was going to a Dance Nationals I thought that I’d try a Sports kind. Within days of using the sports tampon, I started feeling sick to my stomach, fever and just tired. We had all thought I had the flu so we didn’t think anything of it. I don’t remember the ride home or how I even drove from my friend’s house to my house. On June 25th, I had to call into work to tell that I couldn’t make it in and they said that I was delirious and not myself. I had slept the entire day and don’t remember anyone coming in or out of my room…or even trying to get me to eat something. When I woke up on the 26th, I was feeling so much better. I was ready to head into work when I started throwing up. My husband said, that we are going to the hospital to get an IV in. So as they started taking my stats which my blood pressure was 70/40 and I had 104.6 temp, but I looked fine. The next thing I knew they had me in the ER with doctors and nurses flying all around, putting IVs in me, trying to find out what was wrong as my husband was calling my mom. That was the last thing that I remembered…
My mom and husband were sitting in the waiting room while the doctor had come out and said that he doesn’t think that I’ll make it through the night and that he’ll keep me in his prayers. My husband and mom we’re so in shock. They were calling all the family members to get them in to say their goodbyes to me. The doctors didn’t know what I had…they thought Rocky Mountain Fever or a bug bite. If it wasn’t for my co-workers who said I was on my period that made them look at it at a different way. I was in the ICU unit at one hospital when the new on called doctor came up to my husband and my mom and said that they need to transfer me to his other hospital he works at. They have a dialysis machine and that I need to get on it right now. At this point, my organs were starting to shut down and my body was starting to blow up. They transferred me to the other hospital via ambulance, which I don’t remember at all. At this hospital, I was in the ICU unit there for a week in a coma and with a breathing tube. I was on dialysis once a day and getting blood taking from me. My feet were starting to turn black and my hands were swelling up. I was also bleeding from my eyes. They really didn’t know how serious this was till they saw me in the ICU. My family all came around and prayed for me. I was on so many prayers circles within my family, friends, dance community and their friends and families. My Grandma had a little prayer service for me in her own home. They didn’t want her to come and see me. They knew it would break her heart. My family had told me that I looked like a Sumo Wrestler. I had gained over 80 pounds from all the medicine. The doctor told my family about this $5,000 medicine that would help me fight. My family didn’t care about the money, they just wanted me to wake up. So within a couple of days of that medicine, I finally woke up on July 3rd, 2007. I didn’t even realize how long I was out. I remembered looking at the date and saying that it was my niece’s birthday. They all smiled and screamed that I remembered that as well as was awake.
The one thing that I do remember is seeing my feet bandaged up. I was freaking out. I thought I would never walk again or better yet, dance again. Dancing had been my life since I was a little girl and the thought of never being able to do that again, I wanted to die. The let me see my feet and I just started to cry. They were all black, bloody and swollen. They said that I could have lost my feet completely but they were getting way better than they thought. For the next 12 days, they would come in and change the bandages as well as get me to start walking again. It was a long 12 days…there were some ups and downs and a huge struggle with learning how to do things again. People were coming to see me and I didn’t know what I looked like until the day I saw my reflection in the mirror. It looked like I had a mask on my face. My eyes were sunken in and I had broken some blood vessels in my eyes. My hair was so thin and I just looked like someone else. It was heartbroken for me to see how this young person could have almost lost her life all from a Tampon…a new kind of tampon.
The day that I got to go home was July 15th, 2007. It was the first time that I got to walk out of the hospital, assisted with a cane, instead of being taken in by a gurney. My husband had to start changing the bandages, I couldn’t do much housework, I was completely helpless and if you know who I am…that’s so not what I like to feel like. I usually am the one helping everyone and now I was the one that needed the help. . When I went home, they wanted me to keep going to the doctor once a week till they were sure I was 100%. Every time I went to the doctor they would change their status on my feet. First it was the whole foot then just the toes, then just my big toes and finally it was the tip of my big toes. I had proven them all wrong. I came back saying that I was going to walk, dance and even leap again.
As days turned into weeks that turned into months, I had started losing my hair, my feet were starting to get a little better but I still had to use a cane and they had put me on mood stabilizers because they didn’t want me to have PTSD. I had to retrain my feet and started to wear hats. I was tempted to shave my hair off but was afraid it wouldn’t come back in. I started to be able to wear sneakers. Dance shoes were no longer in my bag. With all the damage to my feet, I figured I would never be able to wear dance shoes again. About 9 months after the whole incident, my hair grew back and came in super curly and I was back to my old personality. The only thing that was missing was the fact that I wasn’t able to leap, jump or dance like I used to. At least I still had both of my feet and I was able to still choreograph with the students knowing that I could only do things with just a gesture here or there. I had a huge support system from my family, friends and dance family. They were the ones that kept me going and kept me on the path of proving the doctors wrong.
About a year later, I actually got on a pair of tap shoes, even if it was only on for a few minutes. Then I started walking more, trying to build up my muscle back. By the start of the new dance season, I actually did my first leap in class. I stopped the class and about died. I never thought that I would be able to do that again. I say the power of prayer, love and God were the things that helped me get to that goal.
To this day, I no longer wear tampons. My infectious Doctor said that I could but it could only be for 5 minutes at a time or it could trigger it again. I don’t ever want to go through that again. I tell all my family members, friends and students that they really need to pay attention to the boxes, especially the labels. The one box of Sports tampons that I have, have different ingredients than the ones out now. If we are in class, I excuse them to change their tampon. I don’t want anyone else have to go through what I went through.
It has been five years since the last time that I used a tampon. I’m still teaching and starting to adapt to the way my feet are. I’m going to chiropractors whom are working miracles on them as well as my back. I also had a daughter in 2010, something that my husband and I didn’t think that we were able to have. She has been a miracle to us and I want to be the one to educate her and any other young woman out there. I’m so blessed to be here and to have a wonderful, loving support system. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of what happened and how my life could have gone. I’m truly blessed for all the 15 doctors I had as well as the ones that are still helping me now. I can’tthank everyone enough for being there for me, praying for me and helping my family when we needed you the most.
Thank you for letting me share my story. It was therapeutic for me as well as a memory for me to pass on to others, to hopefully educate even one person.