A student ended up in intensive care for three days and temporarily lost her mobility after forgetting to remove a tampon for nine days.
Emily Pankhurst, a 20-year-old student from Kent, said she believed she was feeling stressed because of exam finals, unaware she was suffering blood poisoning as a result of toxic shock syndrome.
Speaking to Press Association, Pankhurst said: "When I finally realised the tampon was in me and I pulled it out it was pure black. It was obviously coated in bacteria. I wouldn't have known what it was apart from the string. It was horrible."
Pankurst said she originally put the tampon in during her period last month, but said because she was stressed from studying, she forgot and inserted a second tampon.
Pankhurst found the infected tampon after she noticed she had bloody discharge and a bloated stomach. A few hours later, she became faint and her speech slurred, and she was rushed to Maidstone Hospital.
In hospital, Pankhurst said she was fed through a tube. She said: "The doctors asked me when I had last been to the toilet and I couldn't remember. I was stressed about my exams and really wanted to do well on my degree, it didn't register."
Pankurst says she owes her life to her mother: "I put my illness down to stress and ignored the symptoms. But mum knew it was something more and pushed me to feel better. She saved my life."
"I blamed deadlines, returning to uni after the New Year and exams," she added. "Actually, I was seriously ill."