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'My tampon put me in a coma and I forgot who my family were': victim makes miraculous recovery after 2 years

By Mirror | September 23rd 2015

A mum of two who lost her memory after suffering from a life threatening condition caused by a tampon has finally made a miraculous recovery.

Joanna Cartwright, 27, suffered toxic shock syndrome and awoke from an eight day coma unable to recognise her own children and family

She awoke from an eight day coma unable to recognise her own children and family.

The confused mum was shown pictures of her children, Lacey, 8, Nicole, 7 and Scarlett-Rose, 3, but had no idea who the three smiling faces belonged to.

Joanna had suffered from toxic shock syndrome - a rare bacterial condition caused by a tampon - which left her on life support and battling against the poisonous toxins that were causing her internal organs to shut down.

But remarkably, Joanna battled against the odds, and has finally made a full recovery.

Joanna said: "When I woke up from the coma I didn't know what was going on - I couldn't remember anything.

"Someone had put pictures up of my children but I didn't know who they were.”

Caters Joanna Cartwright who almost lost her life to Toxic Shock Syndrome

Memory loss: Joanna didn't recognise names on her birthday cards

"People were pointing at the girls and asking me to name them, but I didn't know.”

"I knew I recognised them but I just couldn't place them.”

"I was put in the coma on my 25th birthday so when I woke up I was surrounded by birthday cards. A nurse was reading the cards out to me but I didn't know any of the names - I didn't even realise it had been my birthday.”

"All I really thought was that was going to die."

Luckily, Joanna's memory slowly returned during her recovery, but she still has trouble recalling parts of her past.

She said: "Even now there are big gaps in my memory.”

"I don't remember Scarlett's first steps, or a lot of her milestones such as talking and weaning.”

"It makes me sad as they are big parts of her life that I now feel like I've missed out on.”

"I can look through photo albums and see pictures of holidays that I have no idea even happened.”

"It's very weird to think that I've had all these experiences that I can't remember."

Joanna first fell ill with what she though was the flu.

Caters Joanna Cartwright who almost lost her life to Toxic Shock Syndrome

She spent three days in bed at home before her mum and partner, Steven, 28, suspected she was suffering from something worse.

Soon Joanna began struggling for breath and drifting in and out of consciousness - at this point she was rushed to A&E.

After arriving at hospital, her family were told that Joanna was just hours from death.

She said: "The last thing I remember is being in the car racing towards the hospital.”

"My family were told that I was hours away from death.”

"My internal organs were shutting down so I was put on life support and in a medically induced coma.”

"My hands had swollen, about eight layers of skin peeled of, I lost about 50% of my hair, and all my nails fell off - I must have looked horrendous."

After eight days Joanna woke from her coma - only to discover she'd lost her memory.

She said: "It's very strange to wake up and not know who you are or where you are.”

"I tried to speak but by the time I'd got to the end of a sentence I couldn't remember why I'd started it.”

"Even now people will mention things to me - something I've done, or somewhere I went - and I don't know what they're talking about.”

"I was so confused and disorientated - I even though my brother was my boyfriend.”

"I ended up discharging myself because I felt so unsure of everything, it wasn't until two days later when I called the doctors for a follow up that they told me I had suffered from toxic shock syndrome along with meningococcal septicaemia.”

"I just couldn't believe it - I hadn't done anything different from what I usually do every other month."

 Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a bacterial infection caused by bacteria that normally live harmlessly on the skin, nose or mouth but can invade the body's bloodstream and release poisonous toxins.

The toxins also damage tissue, including skin and organs, and can disturb many vital organ functions.

Joanna's recovery was a long and slow process, but finally the mum of two says she is finally back to her old self.

"Getting over everything was very difficult, and it's taken about two years altogether," she said.

"My Dad had to move in with me to look after me as I couldn't look after myself.”

"I had to have intense physio as I had to learn to walk again, and it took ages for my hair to grow back.”

"It's been a really traumatic experience and I know there are parts of me that will never be the same again.”

"But I'm just relieved that I made it through and my girls have still got their mum - I count myself very lucky."


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