Toxic Protection / Confidence Shock /  Tampon Alert  /  Severity



keen1  (ken), adj.   1.  sharp, or so shaped as to cut or pierce substances readily:  a keen blade...4.  having or showing great mental penetration or acumen:  keen reasoning.  [ME kene, OE cene, c. G kuhn bold]


keen2  (ken), Irish. –n.   1.  to wail in lamentation for the dead [t. Irish:  m caoine, der. caoinim I lament]


but from here on

I want more crazy mourning, more howl, more keening


-- “A woman Dead In Her Forties,” Adrienne Rich, 1974-1977











To the left, photos of toxic shock victims appearing in various newspaper articles.  Jenny Kilvert, founder of Tampon Alert, sent MOLT copies of these articles, some of which were copied onto colored paper. 


Below are excerpts from the articles, including words of the women and/or their loved ones themselves.


Note:  The women to the left did not become ill while using Rely tampons, which had already been taken off the market.  They were using other brands at the time of their illnesses.


Upper left corner:  Rely tampon logo to which three blue teardrops have been added, representing unreported cases of tampon-related toxic shock syndrome.











“It’s very difficult to describe exactly what it was like,” [Simi] says. “But imagine waking up to find you’re wearing a suit of armor and lying on a magnet! No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t summon the strength to get up. I couldn’t even move...


...To begin with, I couldn’t hear anything,” Simi shudders. “The doctor said it was a reaction to the penicillin but, if they hadn’t given it to me, I’d have died. I can hear with my right ear now, though I’m still totally deaf in my left. It’s affected me socially. Strangers think I’m unfriendly or stupid...”


“...What scares me most is that I nearly died from an illness I’d never heard of – and most of the doctors treating me hadn’t heard of it either.”


Simi Belo








“...Susan Palmer, who nearly died from tamon-related toxic shock syndrome, has accepted compensation from the manufacturers of Tampax – of just $5,000.


“I was at death’s door but this is their only and final offer,” said 32-year-old Susan. “If I didn’t accept this then I wouldn’t get anything.”


“...Susan, who used Tampax tampons for 13 years, is very disappointed by the compensation. She said:  “I told them it wasn’t enough money after all I’d been through – but they are refusing to make a higher offer.  It’s a year now since I was dangerously ill and I still feel like the stuffing has been knocked out of me. I am constantly tired, I have pains in my joints, and I have been taking anti-depressants.”


Susan Palmer








“Early the next morning a microbiologist identified the illness. “Katie is suffering from toxic shock syndrome, brought on by the tampon she was using,” he told [Katie’s mother].”


“It was to be several months before Katie recovered fully. Her hair fell out in clumps and thick layers of skin peeled off her hands and feet...”


“It sounds awful, but I got off lightly,” says Katie. “Some people die – others get gangrene and lose fingers and toes. [...] People think it’s caused by leaving tampons in too long, but I was very clean and changed them frequently. I’ll never use tampons again,” she says. “All women should know about TSS – it may be rare, but you never know who it might strike.”


Katie Bourne








“Her daughter Sally Jackson lay paralyzed in intensive care, burning up with fever, tubes and wires coming out of her neck, chest and legs. [...] Perhaps it was the sight of the ventilator that stirred a dusty memory. All of a sudden Janet remembered the Casualty episode about a woman police officer who collapsed suddenly while on duty and...something clicked. Janet spoke up. “It couldn’t be toxic shock syndrome, could it?”


It was.


Sally, who had just finished her period, had fallen victim to this rare but deadly illness [...] Sally’s toes were so badly damaged they had to be amputated.  She also lost her fingertips and her weight fell to 77 pounds leaving her too weak to feed herself. [...] but she is still alive, and she knows that she must count herself lucky.”




Sally Jackson, left, and mother Janet Wilson






“...15-year-old Alice Kilvert suddenly complained of a headache. “I didn’t think anything of it,” admits her [mother], Jenny. “She was studying for exams so I just put it down to nerves. [...] By lunchtime [the next day] Alice had been admitted to hospital. “They said straightaway it might be TSS – probably caused by a tampon she’d worn a few days earlier,” Jenny recalls. “Either that or meningitis.”


When they heard that the test for meningitis was clear, Jenny and [her husband] Peter breathed a sigh of relief. “We thought she was going to be all right,” Jenny smiles sadly. “We even joked about it, saying, what a way to get out of exams!”


“As soon as we saw there were two doctors, we realized it was bad news,” Jenny says quietly. “We knew then that Alice was gone. [...] We take every opportunity to tell people about TSS and to keep Allice’s memory alive.”


Alice Kilvert







“Ironically Helen knew all about TSS and did all the right things, yet she still died,” says Jackie [Helen’s sister]...”Women are lulled into a false sense of security. They are advised that changing their tampons regularly, using low absorbency and not wearing at night protects them. Helen did all this, she was very careful about her health. She had been using tampons for 11 years without any problems. What went wrong this time?”


Helen was rushed to North Tees General Hospital following her collapse but her condition deteriorated rapidly. When her frantic parents and Jackie arrived, Helen was critically ill. Shortly afterwards she had a heart attack and died.


“The speed of this illness is terrifying,” says Jackie.


Helen Butler










“Vimal Mehta, 18,...died in the intensive care unit at Hope Hospital from toxic shock syndrome...Her illness had started as a sore throat but it worsened over the next ten days until she suffered a series of heart attacks and was taken to Hope [Hospital].  There, doctors at first thought she might be suffering from meningitis and then pancreatitis. Finally a doctor suggested she might have TSS...


Vimal’s sister Komal, 23, criticized the warnings about the condition on boxes of Tampax, the tampons that Vimal had been using.


She said she did not think the printing was large enough or that the warnings were clear enough. “I don’t think there is an awareness just how serious this can be and people don’t take the warnings seriously enough,” she said...”


Vimal Mehta







“Shani Connor was a healthy young woman until she suddenly  became ill with flu-like symptoms in February this year. Over the following 48 hours she became progressively worse and was admitted to Stafford General Hospital on February 8th.  Her condition rapidly deteriorated and she was transferred to the intensive care unit. Shani died at 2:10 a.m. on February 9. She had been menstruating at the time and the post mortem report stated that the cause of her death as respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome.


Since Shani’s death, Mr. Connor [Shani’s father] has carried out extensive research into what little information there is on the illness. He now believes that had his daughter not been using tampons, she would be alive today.”



Shani Connor
















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Toxic Protection / Confidence Shock



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