Mesh Medical Device News Desk, January 18, 2017 ~ The woman is 34 years old and lives in a southern state. Because she is represented, she prefers to speak anonymously. Let’s call her Karen. She was implanted with American Medical Systems SPARC pelvic mesh in 2010 by a military doctor working out of an air force base in Virginia.
Her story is an example of how women without means and the ability to obtain mesh removal surgeries, have drawn the short straw in settlement discussions.
“Worst mistake ever,” she says today.
Giving birth vaginally to three children had left her with pelvic organ prolapse. A pessary didn’t work well to hold back the prolapsing organs. It was inconvenient and difficult to remove, an inconvenience she wishes she could return to today.
The mesh didn’t sound like a bad idea at the time. The gynecologist said it was a little piece of mesh like a hammock and it sits there. It’s permanent, simple and an in-and-out procedure. He’d done hundreds of them. It would stop the falling of her pelvic floor and treat her incontinence.
Soon after the AMS SPARC was implanted, Karen was back in the ER with infection and pain.
“I was eat up with infection and I couldn’t walk,” she tells MND.
Karen couldn’t help at home, keep up with the kids or the household chores. She says she was sick all the time and every couple of weeks rashes appeared on her hands. Pain and pelvic infections kept her in bed. Any sudden movement, such as driving over a bump in the road, would just hurt, she says.
“I was in high level constant pain, and experienced depression and anxiety. They thought I was a mental case and exaggerating my pain to seek drugs.” ~ Karen
Not understand the source of her pain, doctors had been all too quick to prescribe pain medications – Tramadol, Zoloft were prescribed at the pain clinic where doctors sent her.
Karen says she never wanted medication, she doesn’t even take Tylenol, but that’s all the doctor knew how to do. The scoliosis she had since childhood and ruptured disc from an injury did not explain her new pelvic pain. Instead it felt like the muscles in her pelvis had shrunk. Her counselor said the problem is deep inside you.
Suspecting she was mentally ill, she was sent for a psychological evaluation. It found she was not bipolar. Something was going on medically she was told, information she already knew. She was sent for physical therapy, which she could not endure.
“They said I would never be pain free, their goal was to put her on pain management which I fought. I wanted to solve the problem, whatever is wrong, fix it! I cannot live on pain medication.”
Karen considered suicide.
“There was a $100,000 insurance policy on my. My kids would be better off if I was dead, they would get social security rather than a broken mom who can’t do anything.”
While her research pointed to transvaginal mesh complications, no civilian or military doctor ever told her it was mesh. Instead her diagnosis was depression, anxiety, PTSD, neuropathy, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and permanent nerve damage from the waist down.
“I feel like I was used as an experiment by the military. A lot of companies do clinical trials through the military because there is no liability. There are no damages. Whether military or civilian, no one told me this was the problem.”
Karen was challenged taking care of her children and her husband knew it. Instead of offering support, he motioned to take her children away and Karen felt helpless to fight for herself. With no resources, no job and a ton of pain, she obtained the services of a free divorce and disability attorney.
Karen supplied both with her filed product liability lawsuit against American Medical Systems. Surely it would affirm she was joining thousands of women in their claims that a little piece of plastic “hammock” had changed their lives irreversibly.
Instead of support, both lawyers, both representing her interests, suggested she was getting on the “mesh money train.”
Has anybody said the mesh needed to come out? No, Karen says. She was out the resources to see any of the few mesh complication doctors who could help her. With no income, no transportation, Karen now lived in public housing and on food stamps.
One doctor in the Midwest, with a reputation of removing mesh and its complications, wanted money up front for a consulting fee. Even that was an impossibility.
Karen asked her law firm for a loan. She could only obtain a loan for $750, said the firm.
She has never had a mesh removal so her law firm said expect your case is in the lowest tier of injury – Mesh in Place- Medical Management.
In settlement arrangements with the mesh manufacturers, those who have been able to afford multiple mesh removal surgeries, revisions, removals and restorations have been placed in the highest Tier of Injury. Some have even received in the mid-six-figures when placed there.
While Mesh in Place-Medical Management cases are generally settled at a rate under $10,000. Take out at least half for legal fees and expenses. The rest is for the client.
So a Catch-22. Those without continue to go without.
Ironically, her disability claim was denied. Karen did not meet the severity of events to qualify.
Right now Karen is looking for a doctor to put it all together.
The incontinence has returned, the infections are always present. At least she worked out a co-parenting arrangement with her now ex-husband and sees her kids part-time.
“I’m not here for money, it’s about me being here for my kids. It’s about being a mom. The only thing I’m living for is my kids. I’m just grateful the kids are home and I get to see them. I count my blessings.” ###