The Rare Toxin That Almost Killed my Daughter

Most mothers and daughters have their respective “issues” and my daughter and I were not exceptions.

That slammed to a stop.

She called me one morning in tears, asking me to come get her and take her to emergency. I dropped what I was doing, crossed town and bundled her into my car.

Ten hours later she had a D and C. Much to my chagrin, they released her that night at 10 and I once again bundled her into my car and this time, took her home with me so I could make sure she was safe. Only she wasn’t.

Something wasn’t right. One day after the surgery I could see where she’d be sleepy and sore, but 3 days of the same, something wasn’t right. My daughter is stubborn. Too much for her own good, we found out. When she wasn’t bouncing back on day 2 and 3, I said we had to call the doc. She insisted that she wasn’t going anywhere. Day 4 she had a temperature. 103.5. I called an ambulance.

Beyond anyone’s comprehension, my beautiful, intelligent daughter had toxic shock syndrome. People of younger generations haven’t even heard of this deadly malady, which was once associated with tampon use. In fact, her extraordinarily competent doctors had to do a literature review before they came to the heartbreaking conclusion that the source of the Group A Strep, which was feeding deadly toxins into her body, was her uterus. Her uterus needed to be removed.

Her brother, his wife, my partner and I went to see her in the ICU before the surgery. As long as I live I will never forget the color of her face – yellow, orange and gray. Her organs were shutting down, it was explained to me. Her kidneys, liver, and lungs were being slayed by the toxins. I will also never forget the tear that dribbled down her face when they said she had just a 5 percent chance of living if she didn’t have this surgery. Before the took her away, we gave our goodbye kisses, all terrified that it would be the last we’d ever give her while she was alive.

It wasn’t. It was hard looking at her with the tube down her throat when she came out of surgery as well as all the tubes and lines connected to her body. But she was with us and was amazingly aware of much of what was going on around her. It wasn’t fun when they took the breathing tube out, and it wasn’t fun building up her ability to breathe without oxygen. But she did it, exceeding everyone’s expectations about the speed of her recovery.

I have always loved Mother’s Day but this year was astronomically special! I had a wondrous dinner with both my children. And you know what? Those “issues” may be there, but they are miniscule in the light of a cherished life that was on its way to being tragically snuffed out.