Op Ed: David Sawyer on Caring After a Medical Device Nightmare

Jane Akre
December 26, 2011

As I reflect back on the last year I feel it is in order to share many things with those of you who have cared and loved us. I sat today looking back on how it all has been and last December It all started with the engine blowing up in my van, a week later I lost my dog and best friend of 7 years, then it was the van again then December ended with Teresa getting ill and us finding out shortly after New Years she needed surgery.

So that was scheduled for the first part of February. We then feel ok things are going to get better after her surgery just to first find out the device called a TVT bladder sling put in her was being rejected by her body and literally coming out of her after being implanted only 1 month.

So another surgery was scheduled for her to have the device removed. Then the phone rings in February and it’s my sister from my mother’s side to tell me my father had passed away a few weeks earlier and it was kept from me on purpose. I am beginning to feel much run down, sad and depressed by this point.

In total my wife has had 5 procedures to have the mesh removed the first couple from a doctor who performed the removal in a manner a back alley abortionist would. During this time we endured dozens of trips to the emergency room, she endured many infections, was humiliated by doctors and nurses who did not understand or listen to what was going on with her, a doctor actually told us to go home and we were reading too much. The whole medical issue is a story in itself but that is not what I wish to focus on. We feared at times was she even going to live, it has been such a scary year.

The past year has been such a constant day to day struggle not knowing where our next bite of food or next drop of gasoline would come from. The end of August I was hospitalized with what they thought was lymphoma, thank goodness they were wrong, another great blessing for us! I am still going thru testing and trying to find out what is wrong with me. We have had so many setbacks; I now wonder how we still have a home, a vehicle or our health. It just goes to show Faith is a wonderful thing. All we have had during this time is each other’s love and the faith that it would get better.

Finally, in November we were blessed enough to find a wonderful doctor who understood, listened, and was competent enough to remove a large majority of the device from her. There is still a portion of the device in her that removing is very dangerous and could cause her to be completely crippled by removing it.

The worst thing about this implant is they never tested it as it was put on the market under a little process in the FDA called the 510k process…….what is the 510k you ask? Well it allows manufactures to make a product and put it on the market with no human testing required if it is similar to another device already being used or used in the past, ironically the item that was similar was recalled but these devices are still being implanted in women today. You would be amazed if you took some time to research what I have concerning the FDA, Surgical mesh, large pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson and how You nor I are really NOT protected as well as you may think. My advice to you is please research any procedure device or medication your doctor prescribes you as we have learned the hard way.

Finally we are back to December a year later Teresa has as much of the mesh out of her as possible until we are able to get her out to California as there is only one doctor in the whole country we know of removing the part of the device they refer to as the tabs and we will cross that road when the time comes things have been going good so far other than 1 infection so far. I am building my strength back up and hoping to return to work very soon if all goes well. The worst year of our lives has brought us so many hidden blessings such as teaching us many things about ourselves as well as others and what is and is not important in life.

Several people we have never heard of, read our story in the Port Clinton News Herald and out of the blue we received several gift cards a few people sent us checks which will help save our home, The Salvation Army helped us with a house payment, The United Way was able to get enough drywall and mud for our home. I want to take the time To say THANK YOU SO MUCH to each and everyone of you even though several of you put no return address I have to say again THANK YOU! I also want to pledge to each of you that helped us it will be paid forward 5 fold as I said earlier we have learned so much and plan to spend more of our time helping others. Those of you out there that think no one cares. Let me tell you there are still many caring people in this world and my wish to each of you is to help someone else. We can’t always put it on everyone else if we all do a little there shouldn’t be any poverty or hunger in our country I think most always leave it on the government to fix everything when really it’s us that all need to step up and do just a little for someone less fortunate.

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