Doug Bean in Maine and his friend Kairos
Doug Bean is a hernia mesh-injured man living in Maine. Please read his story. It is what happens when humans ignore the plight of those suffering, even to the extent of discontinuing their medical coverage in their greatest time of need.
Should polypropylene mesh be contraindicated when one is already trying to recover from an accident? Should hernia mesh be the subject of litigation just like pelvic mesh, after all, it's the same polypropylene mesh!
Mesh News readers can help reach out to the state so this man is not left to suffer on his own. Thank you!
My Name is Douglas Bean & a little over 2 years ago now (Sept 18th, 2012) I had a right side inguinal hernia repair using a mesh which I now know to be a C.D. Bard 3D-Max mesh prosthesis.
I am now living the same exact nightmare that so many others are who have had mesh placed inside their bodies with empty promises; even after the FDA put out warnings regarding the use of mesh in 2011 and 2012.
Doug Bean and Kairos after mesh
To understand my full story, I must share that I was already disabled from a severe motor vehicle accident, in which a semi-truck hit my car three times while I was driving on the turnpike here in Maine, October 11th, 2010. The only reason I mention the accident is because I got the hernia doing core strengthening exercises at physical therapy when I was learning how to walk properly again early 2012. The hernia wasn't that bad at the time but because of my trouble with walking, a couple of months later, I fell getting out of the shower and it became a serious issue in which I was told that I had to stop all of my recovery therapies related to the accident, and get the hernia taken care of immediately.
So I went to see the surgeon who my primary care physician (PCP) sent me to see for a consult. It was a quick visit where it was confirmed I indeed had a right side inguinal hernia and possibly a left as well. I was told it was an easy operation, in and out, laparoscopic, that a piece of mesh would be put inside me and I would be good as new in a couple of weeks. They did "explore" the left inguinal canal but it turned out I only had the right side to be fixed. At my consult, the surgeon didn't ever give me an "informed consent talk" about the dangers of using mesh, nor did he ever give me the option of going the route of the $5 suture method. He just told me this is how we do it these days. And I asked him my questions that I had ready, like how long have you been doing this, "about 30 yrs" he told me. Have you ever had any problems? “No,” he said.
I was also raised in an era where if your mom brought you to the doctor, you trusted the doctor and let him do whatever he said he needed to do. I'd never heard of mesh problems at the time of my consult nor warned about the possible negative side effects. Nothing like that was ever shared with me by the surgeon or my doctors and I never thought to ask. So I went into the surgery with faith and trust that things would be exactly as the surgeon told me they would be. ‘Quick & easy, a day surgery, in & out and all good in 2 weeks.’
Well three days after the surgery I thought I was doing well. My core strength was coming back quickly. I didn't need the pain meds. Then out of nowhere the next day, I felt something move inside me where the mesh is and then I was in the most agony and pain I have ever experienced in my life. I was in fetal position crying like a baby. I called the surgeon's office several times over the next few days complaining of this severe crippling pain I was having and told them it felt like something moved inside of me, but I was told each time, "It's all normal, just take your pain meds." Well I didn't want pain meds in my body so I didn't take them. But finally I did and they didn't touch the pain. I ended up in the E.R., all because of the pain which started after the 3rd day post-op.
I can’t move without agonizing pain of my right testicle being crushed and feeling like I’ve been kicked in the groin etc. Men when they are simply hit in that area by accident, are rolling on the floor in fetal position and agonizing pain. The pain shoots into the inside of my right thigh, hot burning sensation, then up the inguinal canal towards the incision areas. My surgeon told me this was the normal stage of recovery and continued to tell me the same for three months even though I was begging him to take the mesh out ASAP. He said no, too soon. Go take your pain meds, lay low and let us know of any/all changes. I knew on day three post op that something just wasn’t right. Then I finally three months of him telling me this is all normal, I asked him if he had ever seen this before in any of his other patients and he said “No,” so I said to him, then how the heck are you telling me this is normal???
The more time that went by the pain areas spread quickly up into my abdomen all around the mesh and where it is placed. The intestine area right where the mesh is placed has continued to spread vertically across my mid abdomen (belly button line) starting from the right side where the pelvic bone is - then went toward my belly button across the top of the mesh and now spread 6″ to the other side of my belly button. It feels like I am being cut open and stabbed with a knife. The pressure in my groin is unbelievable.
Doug and daughter before mesh
I’ve lost all quality of my life & have had to stay bedridden or on the couch even with pain meds since this all started. Then to make things worse, my state of Maine dropped my Medicare December 31st when the Affordable Care Act went into place as law and because my state didn’t see fit to revamp its Medicare system they left me with no health insurance for the last 11 months.
No doctors will see me because I don’t have insurance. Even the surgeon who did the surgery has left me to suffer and won't return my calls. Since my surgery went wrong, I can’t bathe myself and I hobble during play with my daughter outside. I do my best to try and keep it creative for her but it bothers me tremendously that I can barely get down on the floor and play with her for more than 15 minutes before I have to get into a reclined position due to my pain. We draw and read and I push her on her swing, watch her on the playground with the dog and we watch movies too. When she is with me, I push myself hard overdoing it mainly because I don't want her to see how bad I really am or me having to hold my groin and abdomen all the time while trying to make every attempt to do the fun things I used to be able to do with her. But as soon as she goes home I'm laid up for a good four or five days minimum.
I can’t even walk my dog 20 feet out in the back yard to take him around. He is two and a half years old. I got him several months before my surgery and I haven't even walked him - not good for a pure bred German Shepherd with tons of energy. I feel like I’m losing my mind and the surgeon who did the operation has no interest in even hearing about the continued and worsening of my post-surgery symptoms even though he said to call his office & let him know of any worsening or changes in my condition. I saw a second doctor after my surgeon told me he’d never seen this before and couldn’t explain it. “There is no known cause” and “most cases I’ve seen have cleared themselves up or healed on their own in a year or two” he said. So I have to lived with this now and the state of Maine knew I was in this situation needing more treatment and corrective surgeries when they took my health insurance from me.
My whole groin area feels like there are spiked sea urchins or razor blades moving through my intestines and under my skin, which actually causes severe itching on the top of the skin. I can feel lumps like lymph nodes that are very tender to touch around the mesh and incision areas. If I even graze those areas the instant pain caused is so severe, it makes me jump out of my skin, exaggerated example, but it’s needed to give the full extent of the pain I live with. This is such a severe medical situation and my doctors either half believe me or say it’s all in my head.
I am 42-years-old and I need help. No one seems to care here in Maine. My female partner even left me because I can’t have sexual relations. I tried once but it was too painful for me. And no one has even thought to check to see if I am possibly allergic to the mesh.
Doug kayaking in Maine
I was a very outgoing person and avid outdoorsman, EMT, white water rafting & kayaking guide, rock climbing guide and instructor. I've owned several of my own small business since I was 25-years-old - the first was an indoor rock climbing gym and retail store. But since no one will help me or take responsibility of any kind. I’ve lost everything except my home of 16 years and frankly, that is next if I can’t find help.
Even the folks at the Department of Health and Human Services, who are the folks that run the Medicare system here in Maine will not talk to me. If I do get someone on the phone, they act concerned, tell me they’ll get back to me with information on getting my health care back, saying while on the phone with me, that they can’t believe this is happening and that no one will help me. Then even they never call me back after making promises to make sure they find out some information that can help me. I have no advocate. All I have is my 7-year-old daughter, who is my life, and I am fighting to get my life back but like this, I can’t even keep up with her for 10 minutes without having to lay down on the couch, where I spend 18-24 hours a day. I am at my wits end and am so desperate for relief from this pain caused by a supposed “simple surgery” that somehow went severely wrong and is now spreading throughout my body.
Everyone says they understand… at first; but that ends pretty quickly once the doctors, family and or friends reach a point where they don’t know what to do. It gets turned back on me. They get mad at me because I can’t do the things they know I used to do, then pull away from me all together leaving me alone. And I've literally been alone through all of this. No one really understands this nightmare, unless they are living with it!
I’m in such a severe situation with no health insurance & no income due to this surgery and now every two weeks I’m worrying where will I find money just to pay for my medications. When the state of Maine took away my Medicare last December, they knew I had already been through 14-months of severe problems from the surgery and on expensive meds because they were paying for it. How they can leave someone hung out to dry, who’s completely bed-ridden, needing medications, more surgery & treatments, I will never understand.
The reasons stated in the letter to me for taking my health insurance away, were that 1.) You have no income & are 100% below Federal Poverty Standards. 2.) You’re 7-year-old daughter (whom I have shared custody of) does not live with you as her “primary residence.” These are not really good enough reasons to take away someone’s health insurance while they are in need of it the most in my opinion.
The state keeps bouncing me around telling me they will help, setting me up with the Department of Health & Human Services case workers - some of who know me said they couldn’t understand why this is happening to me and that they would “get on it” to find out why I was denied health insurance that I had since 2005 through the state right when I need it the most. Not one of them, no matter how concerned and kind they talked to me on the phone, has ever called me back. I was turned over to a new case worker in May, who seemed the most concerned and genuinely wanted to help me. Not even he will return my calls since we spoke on the phone and I've since gone over his head to supervisors who also told me the same as he did, and that they would get back to me. It’s been since July that I spoke to the supervisor with never a return calls from her either.
I recently saw the record of my last visit with the surgeon who performed my hernia repair (this is where I was able to see the type of mesh implanted in me). After 25 months of asking him what type it was, I had been ignored, not responded to & couldn’t even get my own medical records from the surgeon’s office. What makes me so mad & extremely upset though is that he wrote in my records that he told me several things that he NEVER did, that I didn’t follow through with his aftercare directions in a timely manner- but he never gave me any info other than take your pain meds and this will heal itself.
By that time my health insurance was taken away anyway & even if he had given me a treatment plan, I live an hour from his office and had no way to pay for medical treatments anymore or to even get there living alone.
Doug and daughter
He also wrote several things that JUST ARE NOT TRUTH and THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. Mainly the one comment that made me so upset was where he wrote that I told him that my right testicular pain had all but subsided when I was actually telling him that it had only been reduced with medications but that it was spreading up the inguinal canal towards the mesh and incision areas into my intestines. He is obviously trying to cover his butt.
I couldn’t believe it though and now I know why I was denied SSDI last month. The last time I saw this surgeon was Oct 2013 and then he has the nerve to write that I said to him, the testicular pain I had been complaining of to him since the surgery had all but resolved itself!?
I couldn’t believe it when I read that. I had even gone to see a urologist under the surgeon's order (self-paid) and the surgeon wrote I hadn’t done it in a timely manner, yet knowing that he’d already sent me there the year before & that urologist told me he couldn’t help me.
I’ve even written to my Maine state representative and state senator, local news channels, reached out to many different state organizations here in Maine looking for advocates, but I’m finding none willing at all to follow through and really help me. I just keep getting pushed on to the next doctor.
I’m not sure why men are not being recognized after they have mesh implants with complications? It’s the same mesh they’ve put in so many women causing so many to suffer. And point in fact, I was never even given the choice of mesh or no mesh. If I had, I never would have had the mesh surgery or I would’ve chosen the $5 suture method instead of putting an implant (I didn’t even know it was considered a prosthesis until two months ago) into my body which it is severely rejecting.
I’ve asked repeatedly for the surgeon to remove the mesh starting a month after the surgery right through six months post-surgery and he kept saying he could not go back in so soon. That was a flat out lie! The more time that goes by, the more the pain areas have spread now throughout my small intestines, groin, into my right leg, who knows where else now at 27 months post-surgery.
Doug and daughter
Most disgustingly is that the surgeon who did the operation on me will not even talk to me, see me or take calls from me for the last year and all I’ve ever wanted to share with him, which HE TOLD ME TO DO, is keep in touch with him & his office nurses, letting them know of ANY & ALL changes/worsening of my symptoms… Does anyone care? Is anyone listening?
Anyone wanting to advocate on behalf of Doug should contact the following. No one should fall between the cracks due to injury and the lack of a safety net. Here are some of the organizations that might be able to better Doug's living situation with a little encouragement from you!
These are the important & powerful people here in Maine. And they are as follows:
1.) Maine Department of Health & Human Services
Program Administrator, 'Terry Hamilton' -Office of Family Independence (207)822-2072
2) Mary C. Mayhew, Commissioner HHS
Department of Health and Human Services
221 State Street
Augusta, Maine. 04333-0040
Phone: (207) 287-3707 or
FAX: (207) 287-3005
3.) Maine Senator Susan Collins
Augusta, Maine. (207)622-8414 and Washington, D.C. Office (202)224-2523
4.) Maine Governor, Paul R. LePage
Augusta, Maine. (207)287-3531 and Toll-free (855)721-5203
4.) Maine Senator & Representative Angus King
Augusta, Maine. (207)622-8292 and Washington, D.C. Office (202)224-534