Peyton’s Story

15 year old fights TSS

15 year old Peyton Caples

I’m Peyton and I’m 15. This is my story.

In June of this year (2013), I was admitted to ICU.

I started feeling sick right when I used a tampon – not from having it in longer than you’re supposed to. I started feeling really faint and nauseated, I could barely walk, but didn’t think much of it because I was on steroids.

On the third day I started feeling better so my friend came over.  I felt really sick when I stood up…like before.  My grandma called our doctor immediately and they brought me in to the nurse who wanted blood work done for anemia. She said it was simply a virus or that I was anemic.

That night I could barely walk.  I had to be helped.  I had a horrible fever and was nauseated.  When I finally went to sleep I woke up throwing up and feeling really weak.

I went to my primary doctor that morning to see what I had and he diagnosed me with a bad virus. And, he said that I’d be better in a few days.

At this time my grandma had told me to not use tampons anymore while I was sick but since I was feeling better I did.  That night I got worse again and ended up passing out on the floor.  She called my doctor immediately when his office opened and he said to take me to the hospital at 11 for more blood work to be done.

I couldn’t walk at all.  I was in so much pain.  I felt like I was dying.  They made me force fluids and eat and it made me feel worse. I was having horrible pain everywhere.  My legs felt like they were dead and I could barely move now. I passed out right when I stood up.  I fell straight onto my friend who called my grandma to say we needed to take me to the emergency room not to the labs for blood work.

I could barely breathe and they immediately started hydrating me. 30 minutes later they told me I’d be transferred to ICU because my blood pressure was so low and I had the heartbeat of a baby. I got to ICU and started throwing up and they put 5 more IVs in my arms and put a tube down my nose.  I remember having no family members in the room and screaming for my grandma and for them not to do this to me because the tube hurt so badly being put in. I had a 103 fever but they couldn’t give me medicine for it because my kidneys and liver were failing.  My tongue was white then turned red. I had the worst sore throat ever, they gave me water but it hurt too bad to drink anything.

They told my grandma to have me under no stress and that they thought I’d make it through the night. I had to get two CT scans, multiple X-rays, a central line in my leg and heart monitors all over my chest, and a ultrasound.

And, this is just the first night.

They had no clue what was going on, so they had to do cultures and see if staph was growing anywhere. They started me on different antibiotics to help. I couldn’t bend my arms, my whole body was swollen and I could barely see.  They pricked all of my fingers for blood.

While this all was happening my parents and brother were in Germany where my brother was fighting for a gold medal at X Games while I was fighting for my life at the hospital. They took flights home immediately.

They said it could be toxic shock, but, they didn’t know yet.  My parents watched me while I slept that night and noticed the tube in my nose was red and the bag where it emptied had a lot of my blood filling into it. The nurse turned off the pump part of it and the bleeding stopped.  Later that night they put it down farther.

I woke up screaming because it was so painful.  Then once I was awake they told me they were starting me on potassium through my central line, right when it was in my blood stream my heartbeat jumped from 70 to 150 and I was screaming and crying for my mom and it felt like I had been shot.

They called the doctors to come look at me and they turned off potassium saying it made its way to my heart too quickly but they wanted immediate X-rays of my chest.

Later that morning they diagnosed me with toxic shock syndrome and started me on the antibiotic. I kept having to get IVs changed because my vein would collapse so easily due to the saline. I still wasn’t allowed to eat or drink, so I was starving and still in pain.

Everything from that day until the next night is a blur.  But, I remember the next night because they finally let me eat and I cried – it hurt way too bad to eat or anything.

I still couldn’t walk that night.  The next night they allowed me to stand up.  It was really hard to stand but I was proud of myself.

The next day they let me walk to a chair which made me more proud of myself but it hurt really bad to walk.  Since I was getting stronger the next day they got me a wheelchair and let me out of ICU and into a regular room. I was released two days after getting a new room.

Never did I think at 15 I’d be a survivor. But, everything happens for a reason.


  1. After reading your story… I will never use a tampon. If I need to I will use menstruation cups.

  2. Hi,
    so sorry to hear about your experience. That is so scary!
    My 16year old daughter just went through toxic shock syndrome. Luckily, we caught it early enough that although she was in ICU for 4days, she did not have organ failure.
    It has been almost two months, and she is having a very difficult recovery. She has a constant severe headache, and has panic attack type symptoms. She is also unable to attend school, as iit is very difficult ansd stressful for her to concentrate. am just wondering if you experienced some of the same symptoms during your recovery?
    Thanks for your thoughts and for sharing your story!

    • MaryElizabeth says:

      Hi Linda!
      I haven’t shared my story on here yet but I also had Toxic Shock my sophomore year of high school (Oct 2010). I also suffered from head aches, off schedule sleep cycles, fatigue, anxiety (when sleeping alone in my room) and severe concentration/memory issues. It is very normal, and I struggled with the concentration and memory issues for 4 months following TSS… I advise going homebound if it is allowed. It will allow your daughter to complete her work on her time, so if she feels tired she can take a break or a nap during the day, ect. At first my grades suffered but all the teachers were willing to work with me and I think by not pushing my self and going into school I allowed myself to recover faster. I wish you all the best!!

  3. I have always made sure to take the suggested precautions when I use tampons (I usually use tampons when I’m on my period, even when I’m not swimming). Now, I’m even more careful.

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  5. Leanne Strong says:

    I’m sorry this had to happen to you. I have never had Toxic Shock, but I have had times where I have thought I had it. It’s pretty scary thinking you have it, but I’d imagine it’s even scarier when you actually do have it! Now, I’m not implying that I think you were stupid or dirty, but I’m just curious. Did you use a high absorbency tampon than you needed (ex. using super or super plus tampons when you only need light or regular tampons)? Did you use a tampon when you weren’t on your period? Those are both risk factors for TSS.


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