SACRAMENTO, CA-

Awhile back my boyfriend told me a story over dinner that pretty much put me off my food. I then proceeded to tell just about everyone I know about said story and then just as quickly forgot about it. That is until it came up again tonight.

And now I just can’t resist sharing it with you good folks.

But first, a disclaimer: This story was told to me by my boyfriend, who heard it from his coworker. Therefore I cannot guarantee its veracity, nor my accuracy in its telling. It could be an urban legend for all I know. But, really, who makes this stuff up?

Now for the story:

My boyfriend’s coworker and his roommate were sitting around one day when the roommate’s girlfriend came over looking incredibly distraught.

The two men of course asked her what was eating at her. And she told them her best friend had just been hospitalized.

Naturally, they wanted to know why she’d been hospitalized.

She told them it had been for a possibly fatal case of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

You may not have read my post about it, so I’m just going to tell you here that I’m completely paranoid about TSS, which means even by this point in the story I was totally terrified.

“Did she forget to take out a tampon?!” I asked my boyfriend.

“Oh no, it gets worse,” he replied.

The two men ask the woman what caused the TSS.

She hesitates for a minute, maybe bites her lip. She reminds them that her friend, let’s call her Betty, is a little bit overweight.

And, well, apparently she’s a little more overweight than her best friend would like to admit because good ole’ Betty got pregnant and didn’t even realize it more than six months into the pregnancy.

Nor did Betty realize that when her period finally came again, it was actually her having a miscarriage.

Which is why she was shocked when the doctors asked her how long she’d been pregnant. And even more shocked when they told her the baby had died more than two months prior to this emergency room visit. And probably horrified when they told her that her Toxic Shock had been caused by the rotten fetus still inside her.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, a rotten fetus. This is what my boyfriend brought up at the dinner table.

And the moral to this story is: If you’re a sexually active obese woman who has irregular periods, keep some home pregnancy tests on hand.

It’s three o’clock in the morning and I’m panicking.

I woke up with the worst pain in my abdomen.

To be more specific, it feels as though someone has reached inside me and is squeezing my innards as they attempt to rip them from my body.

I’ve already woken Tony up twice.

The first time was to ask him where it would hurt if I were about to die from appendicitis. He assured me it would be in my side.

He has a scar where I would approximate the appendix to be, so I’m pretty sure he knows about these things.

OK then, it’s not appendicitis.

The second time was to tell him I think I need to go to the hospital because I think I’m about to die of Toxic Shock Syndrome. And to apologize for being such a bitch last night.

If you’re about to die, it’s always best to apologize for things like that. Especially if you’re me because I’ve always wronged somebody in some way.

Tony assured me that I’m not going to die and I don’t need to go to the hospital.

Ambulance

And so I took some Advil and continued to lie in bed awaiting my imminent death.

“It’s probably just indigestion. Maybe you ate something bad,” he said.

Yeah, maybe he’s right.

But, oh God this hurts!

No, no, why isn’t the Advil working? Advil always works when I have cramps.

No, surely this is Toxic Shock Syndrome. Or something much worse.

Should I get out of bed and look for the information pamphlet? I’ve read that information pamphlet 600 times. How do I not remember the symptoms of Toxic Shock?

Yogapose

I try to stay calm.

I try yoga positions.

I try lying on my stomach and massaging my ab muscles.

I try lying on my back.

I lie in the fetal position.

Nothing is making this go away.

And all I can think about is the plight of 20-somethings and middle-income workers in today’s world. There are hospitals all over the city. There are firefighters, doctors, policemen, paramedics, all waiting for a call for help.

And yet. And yet, we can’t call. We can’t call because all we can think about is: What if I’m wrong? What if I’m not dying of TSS? I’ll have wasted all that money. I’ll never be able to pay the bills. I’ll be in financial ruin, especially here in France where I have no Social Security to reimburse me.

No, it’s better to risk death.

If there’s no fire, no blood, no mangled limbs, then there’s no reason to call 911.

Oh God, I don’t even know the number for 911 in France! Jesus, how do I not know this? What if this is serious?

OK. OK. Calm down.

Let’s go get that pamphlet on Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Here it is.

I look at the pamphlet. It’s in at least 10 different languages, none of them English.

Tampax

Wait. What?! This is an American brand!* I’ve been using this since I was 16!** They have to have this information in English somewhere.

Surely this can’t be right. Calm down and check the languages again.

See there, there’s an “E” over that one.

Phew! OK.

Shit. No, I was wrong. “E” is for “Espagne.” What you need is “GB” for “Great Britain.”

Yep, that’s not here.

OK. OK. All is not lost. You speak French. Do you remember you speak French? You’ve been speaking French for 10 years! You can figure this out. And even if you can’t, remember that you have that giant English/French dictionary next to the bed.

Img_6544

Whoever thought of using a universal language for scientific words is a genius! Hm. I never knew Toxic Shock Syndrome was caused by Staphylococcus. No wonder it’s fatal.

Rebecca? Rebecca! Did you forget what you were looking for?

Oh yes. OK, here we are: symptoms.

I don’t have any of the symptoms, although I’m pretty sure I am blanched, but maybe that’s because it’s 3 a.m. But no vomiting so far, although I’m suddenly feeling nauseous. Um, nope, no diarrhea, no sore muscles, no feeling like I’ve been sunburned, no dizzy spells when I stand up.

So I take some Midol. I hate Midol because it has caffeine in it and it gives me the jitters.

I lie back in bed and try to concentrate on anything but the pain.

As I’m lying there I begin to be more logical. I rethink my original self-diagnosis, and I’m pretty sure this is actually just a really bad case of menstrual cramps brought on by having started taking the pill again this month. They say that can be a side effect, even though the commercials always promise less cramping and lighter periods.

Ah yes, the Midol is taking effect. Thank goodness Tony wasn’t easily talked into going to the hospital this morning. I’d hate to be in financial ruin for nothing but paranoia.

*Side note for you doubters: Tampax is indeed an American brand. It was started in Denver, CO, according to their Web site.

**Since the age of 16, I have been freaking out at least two or three times a year about Toxic Shock Syndrome. In fact, TSS is the reason it took me five years to start using tampons in the first place. I would have never changed over if it hadn’t been for joining the water polo team in high school.