Toxic Protection / Confidence Shock /  Talkin' Toxic /  It Has Been a Long Road Back






From "Toxic Shock," by Nan Robertson, September 19, 1982

The New York Times


It was clear by then that the ends of my fingers would have to beamputated. Both thumbs had been spared from gangrene, which meant that I could possibly retain 40 percet of my hand function, using my thumbs and palms only. The day the surgeon told me he would have to amputate. I was filled with horror. I was certain I would never be able to write again I was still on the respirator, and speechless. My friend and executive editor at The New York Times, Abe Rosenthal, telephoned Pat Novak broke the something that carried me through many of the hardest days. 'For Chrissake, tell Nan we don't love her for her typewriter, tell her we love her for her mind.'


Then I was swept with rage, rage that fate had once agains truck me down, after 10 dark, troubled years following the traumatic death of my husband. Stan Levey, at the age of 56. Through my long struggle and the help of others. I had finally emerged the previous summer on to what Winston Churchill had called the 'broad, sunlit uplands' of life. But now, as soon as they took me off the respirator, I began to heap my anger onto my family, the doctors and nurses. I reviled everyone who entered the room. I became imperious, demanding, argumentative, impossible. One day, when my sister materialized at the foot of the bed, I looked at her with hatred. "Go home," I said, icily.

For at least 10 days I was possessed by fury, at everyone. One morning I awoke and felt for the first time cleansed and filled with hope. "You have everything to live for," I told myself. That morning in late December 1981, my recovery truly began. It has been a long road back.




New York Times reporter Nan Robertson did NOT develop toxic shock syndrome from tampons – she was 55 at the time, and had been postmenopausal for about 11 years.  Although toxic shock syndrome can vary in severity, Robertson's case was quite severe, requiring amputation of the ends of her fingers.


Nan Robertson describes her "rage" and "fury" at having developed toxic shock syndrome, after already having lost her husband. 


Is it possible that some of the teenaged tampon users who develop toxic shock syndrome, may have already suffered "traumatic" losses as well, such that they too feel "rage" and "fury," having to go through toxic shock as well?


Who is it easier for, a teenager or a woman in her 50s, to move past rage and fury, to awake one morning "cleansed and filled with hope?"  Or is it equally difficult for everyone?












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