A mother in Philadelphia says toxic shock syndrome (TSS) nearly killed her last year, and she is sharing her story so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Aimee Haller Follis began experiencing flu-like symptoms last May after moving into a new home with her husband and two kids.
“Initially, I thought I was just run down from all of the craziness that happens when you move,” the 37-year-old mom told Fox News. “But the fever got higher and higher and higher.”
Once admitted to the hospital, Follis became lethargic, dehydrated and visually impaired. Whatever was happening was getting worse, but it wasn’t until her fever shot up to 106.8ºF that doctors realized she was septic. Concerned about organ failure, doctors questioned Follis to find out the cause.
“They kept saying, ‘Do you have any open cuts? Did you have surgery recently?’” she recalled.
Then, after several hours of hopeless inquiry, they asked about her menstrual cycle.
When Follis informed them that her last period was approximately four or five days before the symptoms began, someone suggested she could have TSS, a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection. Although TSS can happen to anyone at any age (yes, that includes children and men), it is notorious for attacking women who are using super-absorbent tampons.
“They got the on-call OB-GYN to do a physical examination, and that’s when he found the actual infection in my cervix,” Follis told Fox News. “I didn’t know how severe it was, and I credit that to the doctors in the emergency room.”
Follis said that a surgical procedure and lots of fluids—including three different antibiotics—followed her diagnosis. Afterward, she was moved to the ICU, where she spent five days and was read her last rites (twice!).
However, after five additional days in the hospital, the infection finally cleared. The symptoms, on the other hand, did not. Once released from the hospital, she continued to suffer hair loss, vision problems and peeling skin.
Though Follis credits the “amazing team” of doctors, nurses and medical staff for saving her life, her true heroes are friends and family.
“My family and friends stopped everything to be with me, support me, pray for me, and were an advocate for my health care when I couldn’t be,” Follis told Mom.me. “Their love, selflessness and support was truly incredible, and I am forever grateful!”
While it has been almost a year since her near-death experience, Follis believes that hearing her story may help prevent other women from ignoring the same life-threatening symptoms. She even connected with TSS survivor Audrey Leishman, wife of pro golfer Marc Leishman, who founded the Begin Again Foundation, which provides medical financial help for families dealing with TSS.
“Time is vital with sepsis,” Follis said. “It moves at such a rapid pace, that the sooner anyone can get to an emergency room, the better. They said that I would’ve been dead if I had waited another hour to come in.”