At the age of 24, model Lauren Wasser lost her leg when a case of toxic shock syndrome resulted in an infection that caused her to have to have her leg amputated.
In an interview for StyleLikeU, Wasser opened up about what it's been like to lose a limb, discussing what it was like for her to undergo below-the-knee amputation on her right leg.
It all began on what she called a "normal day" — she had been feeling under the weather, and was also on her period, so had made a run to buy her usual brand of tampons during the day. Despite not feeling her best, she made it to a friend's birthday party, where her friends remarked that she didn't look too well.
She then went home and proceeded to fall asleep, and the next thing she knew, her dog was perched on her chest barking loudly, and a police officer was banging on the door.
She eventually was rushed to the hospital with a heavy fever — her internal organs were shutting down, and she felt like her "feet were on fire." Wasser was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, a complication that involves bacterial infections. It's often associated with menstruating women and tampons, though it can affect anyone of any age.
While laying in her bed, she heard a nurse outside tell someone, "I have a 24-year-old girl here who's going to need a right-leg below-the-knee amputation."
"I knew my legs were not good, but hearing those words and being by myself, it was so surreal."
In 2015, Wasser told Vice that her toxic shock syndrome had caused an infection that turned into gangrene, a dead tissue condition that may cause someone to have to have a limb amputated as a last resort.
However, toxic shock syndrome is extremely rare — according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, it occurs in an estimated three in 100,000 menstruating women.
“[TSS] is a rare event. I’ve been in practice for 25 years and I’ve seen one case,” OB/GYN Lauren Streicher, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University’s medical school told us back in 2013.
When it does happen, however, TSS involves flu-like symptoms such as headaches, chills, and sore throat. Amputations are not typically associated with TSS, and Wasser's case is a rare but scary circumstance.
"I felt every single thing that happened, for 24 hours, screaming my head off, throwing shit," she said about waking up after the operation. "It was fucking hell. I was miserable. I hated everyone, I hated everything, I hated myself... I just did not want to live."
Wasser said that as excruciating as the experience was, she's learned a lot, and said that if things hadn't happened the way they did, "My heart wouldn't be full. I wouldn't feel like I'm doing good. I wouldn't feel like I'm making an impact in a positive way. I wouldn't have known what that felt like, because I didn't do that before."
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