If you’ve ever read carefully a tampon’s box, then you might have read a warning about the risks it poses when it comes to Toxic Shock Syndrome. If you haven’t, then realizing that you can die due to a tampon may seem not only unbelievable but quite overwhelming.
TSS is a disease caused by some Staphylococci bacteria present in our skin, arm pits, vagina, pharynx, and perineum. Their presence doesn’t usually represent any risk, but the synthetic material tampons are made of can serve as a Petri dish in which these bacteria can thrive.
Lauren Wasser grew up as a beautiful athletic girl who was introduced to the modeling world without even realizing it. Her first photo-shoot with Demachellier happened when she was only 2 months old. Having been a daughter of models, she travelled the world with her mother, from photo-shoot to photo-shoot, and so modeling came naturally to her.
In October 2012 her life gave painful turn. The last thing she remembers is having called her mom, feeding her dog and going to bed that night, feeling like she was coming on a strong flu. The next thing on her mind was waking up days later at a hospital, disoriented, tubed, without hair and bloated to the point she couldn’t even see her feet. Upon arriving at the hospital, the doctors had induced her into a coma to help save her, pumped fluids to detox her and in the process of saving her life, messed her hair up so much they decided to shave her head.
I lost my whole identity so fast. I still don't think I can even comprehend how intense
the whole situation has been. And it's ongoing. I'm constantly in pain and it's a battle.+
But none of that was relevant. She felt in her hands and feet and indescribable pain. The infection in her right leg and left foot had turned into gangrene. They tried to save her leg with immediate hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but failed. Lauren ended up losing her right leg from the knee down and part of her left foot.
"It fucks with you. You live your whole life and think, 'I'm an athlete,' or,
'I'm a pretty girl,' but this was something physical that I had no control over. It took
me a while to figure out if I was still worthy, if I was still pretty."+
During the time she was in the hospital, her mother sued Kimberly Clark, the corporation in charge of manufacturing and selling Kotex tampons.
"Part of our job is to show the jury that it's not about the warning on the box—it's about the fact that they've had materials available for 20 years that could make [tampons] safer, and they've chosen not to use them. They call these tampons 'natural,' when in fact it's the man-made materials that make them dangerous. Their marketing makes young women think, 'Oh, these are the natural cotton ones,' but they're not natural, they're not cotton, and if they were, the chance of toxic shock would be down to almost nothing." – Lauren's Lawyer +
Lauren has finally rediscovered how beautiful she really is, with or without her leg. She’s regained her trust with the help of, what she called in the interview with i-D Vice, the 'phototherapy' she did with her girlfriend, who encouraged her to show her new leg and feel proud of it. She is also back as a model for VISION agency and working hard to be the voice for all those other women and girls who’ve had to face this problem but haven’t been heard.
This isn't about being a model and having had TSS, it's about being an amputee and accepting my new life. I don't have the luxury of just waking up in the morning and hopping into the shower, or running on the beach. And becoming an amputee and knowing that other people deal with this all the time, I want to help make them feel that it's ok. +
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