Adding my two cents to the mega mesh mess surrounding transvaginal mesh complications…

“Vaginal mesh implants: ‘I really thought I was dying’ “

Doctors appeared reluctant to accept that the implant could be to blame, though. “I was sent for hip X-rays, I was sent for physiotherapy, which made the pain worse. They offered me mental health counselling,” she says. “They even sent me to the GUM [sexual health] clinic for counselling on having sex. I said, ‘It’s not that I don’t want to …’.”
Cancer was investigated as a possible explanation for persistent bleeding, she says. “I was terrified because I lost my sister to cancer, and my mother. I kept thinking, ‘I have got it but they can’t find it’. I really thought I was dying.”
She describes the prevailing attitude as “there’s nothing wrong with the mesh – it’s you”.”
 – (from Aug 2017 post: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/15/vaginal-mesh-implants-i-really-thought-i-was-dying)

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Vaginal mesh implants: ‘I really thought I was dying’

Tuesday 15 August 2017
 Science correspondent

Carolyn Churchill was in agony after mesh surgery, but doctors were reluctant to blame her implant, even suggesting the pain might be a mental health issue

Carolyn Churchill had her mesh implant removed in 2016. At one stage she believed her persistent bleeding was caused by undiagnosed cancer.
 Carolyn Churchill had her mesh implant removed in 2016. At one stage she believed her persistent bleeding was caused by undiagnosed cancer. Photograph: Dimitri Legakis for the Guardian

Six years ago, Carolyn Churchill, 57, from near Pontypridd in Wales, was in a long-term relationship, worked as a chef, and spent hours each week walking with her dogs and looking after her granddaughter’s pony. She was busy and content, but was bothered by stress incontinence, which affects roughly 10% of women.

“Never knowing when you’re going out if you’re going to wee yourself. It really got to the stage where it was embarrassing,” she recalls.

She was referred to a specialist who advised a TVT mesh implant, which Churchill believed would be a quick fix. As the epidural wore off after surgery, though, she immediately felt something was amiss. “I was in absolute agony, but they wouldn’t listen to me and made me feel like some sort of baby, and that it was normal,” she says. “If I could have walked to the A&E that night, I would’ve begged them to take it out.”

Churchill experienced “ripping, burning” pains in her side and legs, numbness in the soles of her feet and suddenly found it impossible to bend over. Three months after the initial surgery, she had to leave her job. “It’s very difficult to explain, particularly if your boss is a man,” she says.

“When we actually managed it, my partner said ‘What the hell is that?’” she recalls. Churchill discovered the mesh had eroded the wall of her vagina and poked through. “I was horrified,” she says.

She had surgery under general anaesthetic to cut away the protruding mesh, but her other symptoms did not improve. Doctors appeared reluctant to accept that the implant could be to blame, though.

“I was sent for hip X-rays, I was sent for physiotherapy, which made the pain worse. They offered me mental health counselling,” she says. “They even sent me to the GUM [sexual health] clinic for counselling on having sex. I said, ‘It’s not that I don’t want to …’.”

Cancer was investigated as a possible explanation for persistent bleeding, she says. “I was terrified because I lost my sister to cancer, and my mother. I kept thinking, ‘I have got it but they can’t find it’. I really thought I was dying.”

She describes the prevailing attitude as “there’s nothing wrong with the mesh – it’s you”.

When she asked if she could have the mesh taken out, she was told this was not guaranteed to stop the pain – and that removal carried its own risk of complications. “It was hell trying to make that decision,” she says.

Churchill finally had her mesh fully removed in May 2016, a major surgical procedure with a lengthy recovery period.

Today, she feels better physically, but remains traumatised and says her life has been permanently altered by her experience. She talks of lost time with her grandchildren and how caring for her 93-year-old father has been a struggle. Her relationship broke down and she is unsure if she will work again.

Who does she blame for her experience? “I think the government should take responsibility,” says Churchill. “When there was all the problems with breast implants they stood up and said it would never happen again. And all that time, it was already happening to thousands of us. I want someone to stand up and say sorry for what they’ve done to us.”

If you are a woman who has experienced problems with a mesh implant, these can be reported to the MHRA. The British Society of Urogynaecology has compiled a list of units with experience in treating mesh complications.

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Categorised in: In the News, Mesh Complications

1 Response »

  1. Empathize deeply because I am suffering from Alyte mesh complications (without the disabling pain, I must admit) and am looking into undergoing a fourth procedure – a full removal of the mesh, which carries its own risks. My original doctor did not discuss the mesh plan prior to the hysterectomy, and continuously attributed the pain during sex, occasional pelvic cramps and consistent bleeding to post-menopause – how convenient!

    Although the initial implant was done in 2014, I only found out that I had mesh after my second operation was unsuccessful in resolving the issue and I requested to see my medical records 2 months ago. When I received the paperwork for the procedure, and questioned the name “mesh reconstruction”, saying that I didn’t think I had mesh, my doctor’s office shrugged the name as “oh, don’t worry, it’s just the name of the procedure.”

    Looking for a second opinion about what I should do now, I came across a highly recommended Dr. in NYC, Dr Culligan. I was impressed with his care and was assured that it “is not the Mesh’s fault” as it is “good mesh”, but removal is my only option. After a bit more research I found out that Dr. Culligan is actually is a paid consultant and research funds recipient by Bard, the mesh manufacturer.

    The question now is, what now? Do I go to a doctor who is paid by the manufacturer but is recommended professionally? What if the procedure leaves me with more issues than I have now? What if I choose to take legal action, would that doctor stand by his patient or by the company who pays… A lot to consider for me and other women out there who have had the misfortune to go through this nightmare.

    Like

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