Toxic Shock Syndrome survivor shares her near-death experience

Michelle Alberts says it still affects her today
Michelle Alberts still deals with lingering damage to this day, nearly 16 years after surviving toxic shock syndrome. (Source: WBAY)
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 10:10 PM CST
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ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin did not have a reported case of toxic shock syndrome since 2011, but state health officials reported 5 cases since last July.

Michelle Alberts recalls a week in June 2007 when she was battling what she thought was just a case of the flu. After a few days, she consulted her doctor and was rushed to the E.R. where she fell into a week-long coma. She was diagnosed with a rare case of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

“The doctor told my husband and mom, ‘You might want to call your family and come say your goodbyes. She’s not going to make it,’” Albert said.

A few days later, she woke up from the coma.

“It was July 3rd when I woke up. And it was my niece’s birthday, and the first thing I said was, ‘Oh, it’s my niece’s birthday.’ Then my family started crying,” said Alberts.

But after waking up from the coma, Michelle, a dance teacher, saw her feet in bandages and was told they were going to be amputated.

“I bawled and I cried. I didn’t even care I was alive. I was like, ‘This is over, I’m over. What am I going to do with my career?’” recalled Alberts.

Thankfully, Michelle has recovered and still teaches dance. But to this day, her immune system remains compromised and she still has nerve damage.

Michelle’s recovery has come a long way. She says she looks at her life differently after almost losing her life to toxic shock syndrome.

Health experts say warning symptoms of TSS are rashes, feeling feverish and faint, and a severe drop in blood pressure.

in the 1980′s, the government made it a requirement for tampon manufacturers to warn customers its use can be associated with toxic shock syndrome.

Doctors say TSS can be caused by a build-up of bacteria, which can happen with improper use of feminine hygiene products.

Michelle says she took proper precautions but believes switching from the brand she usually bought caused it.

“I don’t want anyone else to ever have to deal with that. I thought I was one in a million, and yet it happened to me,” said Alberts.