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Endurance Athlete Pat Buchanan Still Trying to Turn Her Life Around After Two Mesh Removal Surgeries

Pat Buchanan from KING TV

November 25, 2012 ~ Last June, mesh victim, Pat Buchanan was visited in her Seattle apartment by a television news crew from KING-TV.

They filmed her going through her triathlon gear which she had shelved after she began experiencing synthetic mesh complications in 2011.  The story is here.

One week later, Buchanan would be going under the knife for the second of two mesh removals at the capable hands of UCLA urogynecologist and surgeon, Dr. Shlomo Raz, regarded as the top doctor for mesh removals in the world.

Mesh Medical Device News Desk (MDND) prepared a Patient Profile of Buchanan last January (here)  where she talked about the triathlon she had to quit in 2011 because of the pain.

Today, after two mesh removal surgeries at UCLA, Buchanan is out of the excruciating, debilitating pain and is not only able to stand, but is able to walk up to six miles a day. However, running triathlons still eludes her, at least for now.

Buchanan’s Long Hard Road

In 2006, after testing positive for a gene mutation, Buchanan had a hysterectomy and her ovaries removed. Doctors put in two synthetic meshes. A Bard Marlex was implanted through the abdomen to correct a prolapsed vaginal canal (POP), and in a separate surgery, a Monarc (American Medical Systems) Subfascial Hammock was used to shore up her bladder and urethra as a treatment for stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Abdominally-placed mesh to hold up the bladder and/or urethra, results in fewer problems said an expert panel meeting before the FDA in September 2011. Buchanan wonders if that’s because doctors do fewer of them.

Regardless, there is no FDA warning that mentions abdominally-placed mesh and legally those cases appear to be on the back burner to the transvaginally mesh placement lawsuits. Buchanan says she wonders where that leaves those patients who, like her, have had both types of mesh implant.

The Worst Pain I’ve Ever Felt

Pat Buchanan, from KING-TV, Seattle

By the time Buchanan went in for her first surgery in October 2011, the long distance runner couldn’t stand for more than 15 seconds.  She was wheeled into UCLA for her first removal surgery of the Marlex mesh.

The pain with those is intractable, that pain you can’t get rid of it. It is you just can’t function; it’s indescribable, literally I just couldn’t face another day of that pain. By the time Dr. Raz had a cancellation I wanted to be euthanized. We don’t treat dogs that way.”

“I feel so fortunate because getting a hold of the patient advocates. They helped me get into see Dr. Raz and gave me a plan. I had been fumbling on my own while doctors said it was not the mesh. I thought I was dying and nobody seemed to care, or admit to it. I was up at night shaking from the pain and infection. Nights were hell,” Buchanan says today.                                                

Besides pain Buchanan was experiencing autoimmune reactions, pneumonia, allergies, canker sores, fatigue, and headaches.

“I’m an extremely healthy person and felt like I was falling apart. There wasn’t a single doctor who would believe that the mesh had any correlation.”

Dr. Raz found synthetic mesh had sawed its way through Buchanan’s vagina and adhered to her colon and embedded in her sacrum causing neurological problems.   A portion of the mesh was infected and adhered to her spine. In a major surgery, Buchanan was opened up from the abdomen to each hipbone. Dr. Raz had to slice between the mesh and the colon to remove the Marlex and reconstruct a portion of her vagina. She says he is as certain as anyone can be that the Marlex was removed.

In the past, doctors had tried to trim the mesh through the vagina which just makes it more difficult to find and remove by the next doctor. Buchanan says before Dr. Raz, no one wanted to talk about removing it.

After her October surgery, Buchanan had an immediate relief of the abdominal, pelvic, and leg pain, but the symptoms remained in the right foot which felt like it was an arthritic claw.

Second Surgery Last June  

Buchanan scheduled the Monarc mesh removal for June 29 in a separate surgery since Dr. Raz cannot perform abdominal and transvaginal surgery at the same time. Buchanan had the Monarc mesh removed and her bladder lifted with permanent sutures as well as a rectocyle (rectum and vaginal wall prolapse) and cystocele (bladder and vaginal wall prolapsed) lift with sutures.

As of today, Buchanan says she is rid of the pain from the mesh but is still having problems such as a rectal fissure, allergies, though not as bad, allergic headaches, and she is not totally continent. She says she cannot empty her bladder without standing up.

But physically she’s almost back. “I was able to take the stairs almost from the get go. Up three flights, no elevator. I’m a fast healer after having been in such good shape. It helps everything.”

Thankful

But overall she says things have improved so much she was truly thankful this Thanksgiving. This year she could walk, pick up her granddaughter, and cook.

She will seek more help for the ongoing pain in her urethra, and a fissure in her rectum, but for this athlete to go from not being able to stand up to an hour-long spin class, core work, crunches, and walking up to 6 miles a day, Buchanan is content, at least for now.

Her COBRA insurance ends in ten months and Obamacare for adults with preexisting conditions doesn’t start until 2014. Buchanan says the upshot is that she’ll be uninsured for at least a year.

She talks about mesh to whoever will listen and hears stories she wishes she didn’t.

Pat Buchanan, from KING-TV, Seattle

“A doctor tried to sell mesh to a friend of mine’s 82-year-old mother a few days ago by telling her that there’s ‘bad mesh and good mesh.’ When will this insanity stop?” she asks.  #

 

22 Comments

  1. Deb says:

    So happy for Pat. I know there is still loss of quality of life compared to her former athletic wonder-woman self, but I’m so glad she can at least walk, pick up a grandchild, and do countless other little things that mean so much and she couldn’t do before getting the mesh removed. If anyone can keep improving and push themselves to be their best, it is Pat. Way to go! =)

    I’m so thankful she got the help she needed to get to Dr. Raz. He is amazing. I am waiting for my turn with Dr. Raz… 37 days from now I will fly across the country to go to him, and have my monarc sling removed. Yes, I’m counting down the days. I have hope. Waiting is hard and like Pat said, “nights are hell”. I can hardly walk and have been using a crutch for months now. The pain increases in my leg/hip/groin all the time , yet I know it’s a drop in the bucket compared to how much Pat and many other women went through, and are still going through.

    This update and Pat’s story gives me hope. Thank you so much for that. =)… But, I also am asking, “when will this insanity stop?” The suffering. The destruction of lives. Why? Yes, pelvic floor repairs are needed sometimes, and any surgery has risks – but, the risk of the surgery should outweigh the risk of the symptoms… and you don’t take such major risks to fix minor problems, no matter how small the complication percentage is – especially without fully knowing the risks, and even more importantly – why take the risk of using mesh, when there are better alternatives??? I mean, they can (and did for years) FIX these problems WITHOUT mesh. Even the FDA says in their warnings that there is NO evidence that surgeries with mesh (even successful ones) work any better than traditional corrective surgeries without mesh. ?!? So, WHY are they still using it?? Maybe they didn’t know that at first. Maybe, they really did think it was the “gold standard” (in spite of no real testing and proof), but NOW they KNOW it’s dangerous. Or, at least they SHOULD know. There are official FDA warnings… studies… articles… and thousands of women like Pat, and myself coming forward with major complications… waiting for months to go to Dr. Raz in spite of distance, wait-time, & money because so few doctors will, or can help us, and because our complications are THAT bad we are desperate for help.

    Still, so many doctors still deny mesh is dangerous and conveniently plead ignorance. How can they do that? Why are they still believing it is “ok”, and using it?? Why is our system LETTING them?? What gives them (doctors, manufacturers, the FDA, whoever!) the right to risk our lives and quality of lives? Because it’s faster? More convenient? More $$? How does that make it ok?!? I don’t get it.

    It is NOT ok. Those of us with these life altering mesh complications are NOT some minor, ACCEPTABLE percentage to just sweep under the rug. This is not acceptable at all. This was avoidable. This wasn’t some freaky accident that inexplicably happened in surgery. This is a KNOWN faulty product that is being allowed to be used on us without full disclosure and without our informed consent. We are being treated like lab rats and given the luck of the draw. Some will win, and be ok – maybe most will be – but, that doesn’t excuse the fact that many will lose, and we’re talking MAJOR loss here. Loss of the ability to walk, sit, stand, to have sex, or the ability to go to the bathroom or to stop going to the bathroom. These are NOT minor issues, especially when no “fix” is readily available if at all. Denial is offered. Confusion. The run around. Those who do find help, often find it on their own. People suffer for years, get worse, and many will lose their independence.. jobs… money… families. Quality of life is lost, and some will lose their actual lives or have suicidal thoughts. What about their husbands, and children’s lives? How much does this impact them?

    So, how is this AVOIDABLE risk ok? No, this should NOT be happening. This is NOT ok.

    Again, I’ll ask along with Pat and countless others, “when will this insanity stop?”

    • DebC says:

      Sorry for the long ”rant”. I guess I needed to vent but I know I’m preaching to the choir here… 😉

      • Terri St says:

        Hello Everyone,

        I am post mesh removal, surgery date March 28,2013. I am really suffering and could use some support and incouragement. Dr. Raz, UCLA, Took all my mesh out. What a nightmare, I lost 2/3 of my blood. Almost died, but immediately I felt better with it gone. Now three weeks later I am sitting in my bed panicking whether or not I will be incontinent for the rest of my life. Any advice? I was healthy, young and athletic, now I am bed ridden. Wear depends and on pain pills. Well, I have been on pain pills since that crap was put in April 26, 2010. The doctor that no one should go to is RED ALINSOD of Laguna Beach, CA. He works for Coloplast, he went mesh Frankenstein on me without telling me. He had my authorization to put a small piece in my posterior wall that’s it. He put it everywhere. Horrible unconsciencable man. He ruined my life, from all aspects. Sex, athletics, body, vigor and overall health mentally and physically. Help, anyone! Tell me it will get better.

        • Teresa says:

          How are you now?

        • patricia says:

          Sorry for the long delay Terri. I haven’t been checking back here to see the comments. I hope you’re improving. It’s almsot exactly a year since my last and final explant and I’m continuing to improve. I have some fecal continence issues from the nerve damage done by the mesh, but I’m out of the horrible pain and seeing improvement with the immune issues.

          • nicky says:

            Hi Patricia,

            I feel for you. I have been through the same BS. I got my mesh in July 2004. Within months it eroded into my vagina. I had 9 attempted “repairs” of the mesh so that it would stop cutting my vagina. It was like barbed wire. Doctors denied that the mesh was also cutting my organs elsewhere. They lied. Eventually I learned that it eroded into / adhered to my kidneys, liver, ovaries, uterus and bowel. In 2009 I finally needed a full emergency hysterectomy and had nearly a foot long piece of my bowel removed when I hemorraged from the damage. They could not repair my other organs because they said the doctors would need a “chisel” to break off the scar tissue. I have not had sex since the mesh went in (2004). My husband left me, sued for half of everything I own, and cost me over $100 000 in legal fees / equalization. He has not seen my children since — causing them psychological damage. My new boyfriend (since 2009) has never been able to be intimate with me. He has never even inserted a finger into me. We have never “consummated” our relationship although we are grown adults. The lack of intimacy is so painful emotionally. In 2011 I had the mesh removed in Toronto. I believe it is all out except for the screws or anchors. I no longer have mesh eroding through, but I have pain in my hips and I still can’t have sex. The doctor had to remove a considerable portion of my vaginal wall during surgery and I am so tiny that I can’t even put the tip of my pinkie finger inside. Plus, I either have “no sensation” (broken nerves) or horrendous pain if I even touch the area — depending where I touch. I tried to use my whole finger once to see how bad the pain would be. I touched an area with dead nerves and ripped myself in two. I developed a fissure. I have been on antibiotics 24/7 since 2004 which caused tinnitus (constant ringing in my ears), as well as petechiae (red blood blisters all over my legs — doctors thought I had Lupus or an autoimmune disease). I have wanted to kill myself but I can’t because of my children.

            I want to cry myself to sleep now.

          • nicky says:

            Hi Patricia,

            I feel for you. I have been through the same BS. I got my mesh in July 2004. Within months it eroded into my vagina. I had 9 attempted “repairs” of the mesh so that it would stop cutting my vagina. It was like barbed wire. Doctors denied that the mesh was also cutting my organs elsewhere. They lied. Eventually I learned that it eroded into / adhered to my kidneys, liver, ovaries, uterus and bowel. In 2009 I finally needed a full emergency hysterectomy and had nearly a foot long piece of my bowel removed when I hemorraged from the damage. They could not repair my other organs because they said the doctors would need a “chisel” to break off the scar tissue. I have not had sex since the mesh went in (2004). My husband left me, sued for half of everything I own, and cost me over $100 000 in legal fees / equalization. He has not seen my children since — causing them psychological damage. My new boyfriend (since 2009) has never been able to be intimate with me. He has never even inserted a finger into me. We have never “consummated” our relationship although we are grown adults. The lack of intimacy is so painful emotionally. In 2011 I had the mesh removed in Toronto. I believe it is all out except for the screws or anchors. I no longer have mesh eroding through, but I have pain in my hips and I still can’t have sex. The doctor had to remove a considerable portion of my vaginal wall during surgery and I am so tiny that I can’t even put the tip of my pinkie finger inside. Plus, I either have “no sensation” (broken nerves) or horrendous pain if I even touch the area — depending where I touch. I tried to use my whole finger once to see how bad the pain would be. I touched an area with dead nerves and ripped myself in two. I developed a fissure. I have been on antibiotics 24/7 since 2004 which caused tinnitus (constant ringing in my ears), as well as petechiae (red blood blisters all over my legs — doctors thought I had Lupus or an autoimmune disease). I have wanted to kill myself but I can’t because of my children.

            I can’t do any sports, or have sex, or have children. I surrendered my uterus, ovaries and cervix in the hysterectomy, as well as my womanhood. I consider that I had my vagina “amputated” because I cannot use it for sex, reproduction or even menstruation (which now has ceased). I put on 40 pounds from having my ovaries removed. I also had 11″ of bowel removed so there are problems with serious fecal incontinence…. now on top of peeing my pants I also poop them. I can’t feel when I have to go, and when I do need to go I only get about 30 seconds notice before I will “go”.

            I cannot quit working because I am now a single mom. I can’t remarry to my new boyfriend because it wouldn’t be fair … I can’t expect a lifelong commitment when I can’t even dance at my wedding or consummate the relationship.

            I want to cry myself to sleep now.

        • Terri says:

          Terrist-
          If you see this, can you please contact me? Your experience is like mine and I could really use your help right now.
          I am going through even worse of a nightmare than you because of xx xxxxxxx too. Just hoping to share info with you and see how you’re doing now.

    • KIM says:

      Hello, this is my fist night on this site, i just spoke to my attorney at muller law , and attorney ron carrs told me about this site mesh medical divice news desk, and i haven’t stop crying reading all these women pain. Ron Carrs also told me about Dr. Raz that he was the best I can’t fly and I live on social security disabil so very fixed income cant work at all so don’t no how I will get to California but will start a plain to some how get there, I NEED THIS OUT OF ME, I HAVE LOW GRADE FEVERS ALL THE TIME, PAIN AS YOU NO IT , THE DEPRESSION ALONE IN SOMETHING TO WORK AT , THAT IS MY NEW JOB TALKING TO MYSELF TO STAY A LIVE. KIM

      • Abandoned says:

        Hi Kim, Do you live in Austin? Did you ever make it for explant surgery? Unfortunately, I signed on with a law firm in Dallas who promised me I would never have to talk to anyone from the defense (I told them my reluctance to be involved due to my depression, PTSD, and responsibility case managing my dying parents.) as,I absolutely could not endure any more abuse, stress, couldn’t think straight, and felt like I was dying all at the same time. They said Don’t worry, just sign the paperwork and we will do the rest. Then, someone else started calling me and sending FedEx envelopes (which I just threw in the drawer, unopened for a while). Finally, one day I answered the phone and a woman was urging me to sign the new papers they had been mailing…must do it immediately, time is running out. Once again, I explained my reluctance to her, then an attorney called and was so calm and cool, explaining all I had to do was fill out the forms and sign the paper work. She promised I would not have to talk to anyone but her or someone else from the firm. Against my gut, I did as she instructed. Some time after that, I started calling around locally in Austin and reached both firms you mentioned. They were wonderful and spent more time answering questions and explaining things to me than the law firms in Dallas I had signed on with. I tried to have my case transferred and couldn’t due to several reasons and got stuck with someone who I had never seen, was called for a face to face deposition at the same time I was trying to get my mom on Hospice, sick myself, and in shock that Dallas lied to me. One of my pain managers wrote a letter stating that due to my medical and psychological condition, I could not be in the lawsuit. I could barely write my name at the time, showed up for my appointments early, late, wrong days. Shook and Hardy or what ever their name is for Boston Scientific argued that I just wanted to sit around, watch and wait. Judge Goodwin court ordered me to under go the deposition and I did. I contacted a partner of the Dallas law firm who told me he didn’t have time to hold my hand, that was the other attorney’s job. I told him she had lied to me, refused to give me a few names of doctor’s who were familiar with mesh removal, stating if she did that she would be practicing medicine without a license (have that in an Email). He asked her if that was true and she said yes. He said, they probably selected you due to your mental status hoping to create enough stress that you would crack up or drop out. My reason for sharing this is in hope of giving you at least some piece of mind that you are dealing with more than law firms who in my mind exceed their reputation with good, decent, commendable character. The stress of being stuck with a firm that could care less, is as dishonest as the device companies for profit is a huge additional burden. If you are still in pain, live in Austin…I can give you the name of a good pain physician who is becoming well versed in pain caused by mesh and he has LPC’s for counseling.

  2. Jane Akre says:

    Just a reminder here about what the FDA says about abdominally-placed mesh. As you may know, most of the lawsuits involve transvaginally placed mesh. Generally the FDA and its expert panel that met in Sept 2011 agreed that the abdominally placed mesh presented less of a problem. What has been your experience with mesh that was placed through your abdomen?

    From the FDA’s July 13, 2011 Public Health Notification:

    “• Mesh placed abdominally for POP repair appears to result in lower rates of mesh complications compared to transvaginal POP surgery with mesh.”

    Find the notification here:

    http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm262435.htm

    • Kate says:

      I have been in intractable pain 24/7 since my first mesh was placed in 2006 (I now have three). This mesh was placed abdominally (sacral colpopexy). After one year, sent out to “pelvic pain clinic”, as the surgeon considered her operation a “success” since my organs were no longer prolapsing (my pain was IGNORED). I have had more surgeries, injections, physical therapies, nerve blocks, etc, all attempting to resolve the pain issues. This past year I now have progressing pain, weakness, numbness in my left hip and leg, in addition to the “bayonet in the groin” I have had since 2006. So don’t believe for one second that abdominally placed mesh is “ok”.

      • patricia says:

        Thank you Kate. There aren’t as many of us with the abdominally placed mesh, but I feel your pain. I hope that you’ll be able to find relief.

        Pat

      • Sereda Parker says:

        Hi Kate, I had the same problem lower back, both hips stomach pain I had a Sacral Colpopexy surgery in 2008 . I can not sleep in my bed at night i have to sleep in a chair to get some relieve I have some small amount of rectal prolapse. I have appt to see Dr. Rax on Fed 20, 2013 i can not wait you can call me 336- 562- 8494

        • KIM says:

          hI, HOW DID YOUR SURGERY GO WITH DR. RAZ, I HOPE WELL , PLEASE LEAVE ME AN UPDATE FOR I’M REALLY DOING A LOT OR RESEARCH ON DR. RAZ, AND THIS IS MY FIRST NIGHT AT THIS WEB SITE, THANKS KIM I TRULY HOPE HE MADE YOUR LIFE BETTER.

  3. Stacy says:

    Pat – it was so nice meeting you. Thank you for sharing your story with me and passing along your experience. Just tweeted this article and will tweet some more to help share your trials & tribulations with all women. We are – large and in charge when we’re in the know! Best wishes and stay strong.

    • patricia says:

      Thank you Stacy. Way to go. That is the key..to let as many women as possible know about this travesty called mesh.

  4. Janet says:

    Hi Pat,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope things are going better for you now!

    I was also an athlete, although not at the level that you have been. But I would run 5-6 miles daily, walk, bike, rollerblade. My husband and I have been married for 23 years, and we have 4 kids, so I was very busy keeping up with a big family. And in my ‘spare time’ worked as a nursing home nurse.

    All of that changed in 2010 when I had a bladder prolapse suddenly while out jogging. The urologist I saw said he could fix it with mesh, and said he would “throw in a sling” because I leaked a little when sneezing.

    Since that surgery on April 1st, 2010 (I should have known – April Fools’ Day!!) I have had horrific, debilitating pain that for a time had me completely bedridden. I finally got another urogyn to remove it – he thinks he got 95%. But because of the complications caused by this mesh, I have had 6 subsequent surgeries to try to deal with complications. I’ve had pelvic muscles in spasm (a year of physical therapy plus nerve blocks to fix that), vaginal nerve damage, a vulvar neuroma, granulation tissue, and most recently vaginal varicose veins that are painful. I’m much better off since mesh removal, can walk several miles for exercise. But I still cannot sit at all, and likely will never be able to. I can’t have sex at all. And I’m on 7 different medications to deal with the pain and complications. I’m only 43 years old, but I feel 93 sometimes.

    I don’t wish this on anyone. But I do think that if mesh complications were to happen to some well-known people, celebrities, athletes, etc it might start to get the kind of attention that it deserves. Just today, in one of the facebook mesh support groups, a woman was having severe pain after having a sling put in 3 WEEKS AGO!!! It floors me that they are still implanting this, knowing what the results could be. And we obviously aren’t making enough noise if there are still women who have never heard of mesh complications.

    Again, thanks for sharing your story.

    Janet

    • patricia says:

      Oh Janet, I’m so sorry. This just shouldn’t happen to anyone. I know we’re happy and grateful for every morsel of life we can eke out post mesh, but GEEZ.

      Accidental Jounalist…You are so right. Doctors wll try to blame the victim regarding the mesh. Yes, I am living proof that you can be in top physical health and doing all the right things. The mesh will still take you out.

      Wishing you all healing and recovery from the mesh hell.

  5. Lucy says:

    does anyon have experience with any other doctors that remove the mesh

    • Jane Akre says:

      Have you checked out the Facebook Page? Many people talk about mesh removals there….. let us know what part of the country you are in and whether or not you have insurance… thank you!

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