I got a very large inguinal hernia from having two abdominal surgeries very close together. After the mesh repair, I was in pain within 6 months. Looking back, I had many illnesses that caused me to lose my job as an actuary, time with my family, and lose myself. Part of my journey was regaining my true nature of discipline, determination, and drive.
These qualities helped me start the journey of healing of my family and myself in all ways imaginable. Also, it gave me the courage to do the following.
It began with a CT scan in Georgia which I brought to a mesh removal expert to analyze.
He was quick to reveal to us that I had calcified mesh. He removed it the next day. While I was on the operating table, the doctor ran out to show to my husband, in his bloody glove, because it was a very old, calcified mesh that was somewhat horrifying at first glance. The next day at my follow visit, my husband took a picture of it. The doctor declared that surely it was at the root of all my particular health issues. I was shocked later that some professionals thought calcification was impossible, but they did not know what kind of mesh I had. By the way, I had colorful descriptions of my mesh – Davy Jones on Pirates of the Caribbean and an Alien.
Immediately, I knew my mortality would be shorten given that I am an Actuary. I was in the business of predicting such things.
The next order of business was obtaining my very old medical file from the hospital where I got the mesh implanted. Fortunately, my surgeon was now Head of the ENTIRE surgical center of that hospital. We tried for nine months by the conventional ways to no avail.
Then, I decided to write a letter personally to my surgeon appealing to him and showing him my picture. I had determined he had not harmed me since the mesh held during my pregnancy. I sent him a certified letter so he would directly get it. I did not want it to get thrown away or lost on his desk. I know how that works given I worked in the insurance industry. Once, I got notice he received my letter, within a week, I receive a “private line” call just the then movie, All the President’s Men, “Deep Throat”!
He told me the manufacturer and he asked me about the challenges of getting my old medical file. Then, I got my “Hail Mary Pass” in the mail 1 week later my ENTIRE file and I did not have to show anybody parts like Erin Brockovich! I bet he marched down there and demanded the department to get off their collective behinds and go get my file! He knew I had a lawsuit by looking at that picture!
So, I had the barcode in 2017, off I went researching for 2 weeks. I found in an LSU textbook that some medical doctors KNEW my mesh could calcify by performing CT scans which lights up like Christmas trees (just like my mine did as an expert in mesh removal pointed out to us) if you are trained (apparently all my prior radiologists missed it) to look for it. One of them was/is a famous mesh removal doctor. Of course, they did nothing.
Upon such a horrible discovery, no reports were made to the FDA, nor did they pull it off the market. At that point, I was gutsy enough to call the manufacturer’s research department and request all their studies and information. I would even fly out there to read them all. I eventually got connected to the legal department. By then, I had been talking to several lawyers. So, when I declared this, “ethically” should have stopped their questions which I answered “NO”! This happened basically 2 rounds. Then, their legal team hired outside representation against me and my 2 lawyers (I had not signed with them). Same scenario. Suddenly, my mesh type was pulled from the market. Interesting?
Meanwhile, all lawyers advise you to put together a timeline. I knew I was getting close to the statute of limitations to file a claim which is 2 years. However, most of all, I was well beyond the statute of repose, the number of years you must report a claim once you know it is an issue which the number of years is different in each state. I could have lived on the moon; I never could have qualified anywhere. So, I made a magnificent packet as follows:
Page 1: Cover letter, the outline of the attachments
Page 2: My research and interactions with the Manufacturer
Page 3: Outline of who I was BEFORE the mesh since I am NOT a scientific research project
Pages 4-5 Timeline – I condensed many years into 1.5 pages
Page 6: My Legal damages
Page 7: My mesh picture blown up as big as possible
Page 8: Spreadsheet showing my calculation of Present Value of Lost Income
I called over 45 lawyers and appealed to their vanity and desire to make history with a landmark case. I even called the famous Adam Slater to see if he would take the first hernia case and make more history. My brother who practices family law called about eight lawyers. I made my husband a joint plaintiff in case I died so they would have NO excuse in paying out. The packet and the writing of it was my idea. My brother and my husband put polishing touches on it.
I am willing to help any meshie free of charge because I want to pass on my skills and background.
This may astonish any reader, the only items needed for my case since I did not go to court, was my packet, operative notes of my mesh implant, and the explant. I believe my lawyer saw more than a timeline. He saw a person who suffered extreme damages from mesh. He was brave to take me on as an outspoken client. He was very gutsy to stand up to the manufacturer for me. He went the distance for me.
A challenge now for other lawyers reading this is to take cases like mine and make it to court for the law to change. It is great Adam Slater is challenging all of you to only take 33 1/3 for commission due to our challenges. Now, I have a bigger challenge, STAND UP TO THE STATUE OF REPOSE IN EVERY STATE! What are “we” to tell our fellow meshies – oh you are filing 10 years and 1 day, you are too late?! My oldest brother would carry picket signs that would say, said back in the ’60s,” HELL, NO, look at my sister’s mesh damages”!
In the long run, you might increase your practice and become famous! I want my case to pave the way for the future. My other brother wanted to rent a blimpy with my mesh picture and fly it over the “castle” and say over the loudspeaker, “Look what you did my sister!” So, that is my outspoken family storming the “castle”, one with picket signs, one with a blimpy and I would have had my friends wear t-shirts with my mesh picture on it doing the wave in court if I got there!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAH My lawyer would have passed out. Those are just thoughts and how much my kin love and care about me.
I totally believe in miracles and how God orchestrated all of this. My family has had to put with mesh and mesh-related illness talk plus my imminent death. Additionally, they had a missing mother part of their lives. My husband has stayed with me and is now my partial caretaker.
I believe it is time for the reckoning of FDA “laws” and bad statistics. The Statue of repose in EACH state needs to be changed because it protects the big business of the manufacturers NOT the meshie plaintiff. There is not a diagnostic code for mesh removal! Doctors need new training in medical school about the perils of mesh. It is NOT the gold standard. I am perfectly fine to be the catalyst and the trailblazer because my profession might get my foot in the door. I believe as long as the mesh is the gold standard, then the statue of repose SHOULD be lifted in each state! I know there are thousands of people who have classic mesh-related symptoms and are not educated because of their doctors. Everyone has heard of a women’s instinct; I wish I listened to mine over 10 years ago.
I do not mean to step on anyone’s toes. Many have gone before me and made excellent progress like the Bleeding Edge movie. I just believe it is time for significant Hernia cases and reform. I hope my story inspires people, doctors, and lawyers.