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Mesh-Injured Woman Remembers 9/11 and the Darkness of Life

Still Standing graphic

Still Standing graphic

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, September 12, 2016~ The following essay is from Still Standing. It explains her need to help others through their pain.

She does an admirable job and is trained in pain management.  She is a very vocal and valued member of the community.

 

Jane and mesh injured women.

As I watched the 9/11 remembrances today marking the 15 year anniversary, the smell and noise of Ground Zero came rushing back to me. On September 18, 2001, I was sent to New York as a national disaster volunteer for the Red Cross. I was assigned to drive an ERV( the big ambulance type vehicle you see on television).

I worked out of St. John’s University, which had become the center of red cross services and I drove to Duane Street, in Tribeca area, to pick up and load food from 10:00 at night to 10:00 the next morning. 911-aftermathIt was grueling,exhausting work. Normally, the red cross helps survivors of disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes (I worked in all of these disasters).

We didn’t have survivors. We were there to take care of the search and rescue workers, hundreds and hundreds of them. At one point, we served more than 15,000 meals per day.

I witnessed horrendous pain and suffering, watched frantic firemen with the soles of their boots burned off from the heat of the pile as they searched for sons, daughters, parents, and friends. I watched volunteer veterinarians care for the burned paws of search dogs.graphic im still standing

I watched policeman, fireman, FBI, CIA, volunteer rescue workers smile as they read the thousands of letters that came to ground zero from school children all over the country. And that smile is why I am writing this post. Some people on this site have told me I do not write with feeling, with the anger that accompanies this terrible mesh experience. Ground Zero is why I let go of my anger. I saw scores or ordinary people who were brutally thrust into this hell that no one could have ever imagined.

I was angry with God, very angry. And yet in the middle of it all, there were smiles, a glimmer of hope. Not many at first, but as the weeks went on (I was there for a month) some joy seeped in. The night the Yankees (or Mets) won their division in baseball was my last week there. They watch the televisions and cheered.

I decided when I left Ground Zero that I would make a commitment to find joy even when I didn’t want to, even when life is so hard I wanted to die. I felt a strong need to honor those I served and those who died.

Seven years after my Ground Zero assignment, I was implanted with mesh. Ground zero is the lens I look at life through, the context of my conscious. It was so much more than a Red Cross assignment. it was a time of epiphany, a life-changing experience that is hard to put into words. As I face a day with pain, I am encouraged to press forward by my ground zero experience. Seeing what I saw at Ground Zero does not make me minimize the mesh pain, but it does allow me to reduce my suffering by understanding that we all swim in the fundamental darkness of life.

It is my responsibility to live my life in a way that shines a light when I can.

When I left New York, I pledged to tell my story every year so others will remember. I didn’t schedule a program today, so, Jane, if you will print this somewhat off topic post you will be helping me fulfill my pledge and hopefully this might be a light of encouragement to some of our mesh family. ##

19 Comments

  1. mary b says:

    i can see what pain you went through i feel the pain so many of us has been through so much pain but your story is uplifting i try to do the same i keep going i push the pain aside something its hard after five surgeries and probely need another one but am scared to death of another one but just push myself thanks for your story mary

  2. Barbara Melling says:

    Tears and sadness for all, courage to change what’s not right and bravery!
    And hope!
    Thank you I needed this!
    My fight is on!
    Sincerely Barbara l Melling

  3. Connie S says:

    I appreciated your inspiring story. I am going for a complete mesh removal this week at UCLA. I am scared but, so happy they can and are willing to help me. I would love to work on trying to get doctors to not use mesh at all. UCLA Urology does not use mesh. Go back to using a woman’s own tissue and please don’t put women in danger or open them up to who knows what kind of illness or erosion into other organs. I have two mesh slings that have to be completely removed and I am scared what the two tests on Wed will show, but feel that I am closer to getting my quality of life back.

    • Connie, allow me to tell you two of the most powerful inspirations I took from Ground Zero. The first night I walked into history, I had to get off the subway at Church street and walk into the pile.
      , going through ID checkpoints every block. A giant US flag was draped across the side of a building adjacent to Ground Zero. Even though it was night, spotlights lit the scene as the work was around the clock to clear the rubble, to find human remains. I remember looking into the night sky and I could not see where the debris of the towers stopped. I did not think it could ever be cleared. Less than a year later, I cried as I watched the ceremony that officially ended the clean up. What we see as impossible IS possible to someone else. Fall into the belief that you will have a successful removal. That positive affirmation will serve you well as you recover from the surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how difficult my surgery # 5 would be on a scale of one to ten. He said that for most physicians,it would be an eleven or twelve, but for him, it was a seven or eight. Maybe a little ego was at work there, but it was comforting for me to hear that he believed in his skills. It put me in a good mindset. You will need one. Removal surgery is brutal. Doing some positive mental work before is important.

      Every night when I walked into the center and every morning on the way out, I passed St. Paul Chapel. This tiny building remained surprisingly intact as the buildings that shadowed it crumbled. At first, thick white ashen dust covered the grounds and everything around it. It was a site out of a frightening horror movie. Before I left, there were tiny blades of grass peeking through the ash. This is the church where George Washington prayed the night before he became President. It is the oldest church building in Manhattan. There is a book about the chapel called “The Little Chapel that Stood.” It is a fitting reminder about resiliency. We have that in us. It may have gone into hiding as we have been laid out flat by the pain, but it is there. Call it out. You can do this. After all, you have already been through hell and you are still standing. We all are. And that means everything. I will be on my knees in prayer for you and your surgeon and all of those who will care for you.

    • Kitty says:

      God speed Connie.

  4. Kitty says:

    When I saw Hillary yestetday… I wondered what humiliating medical issues she is really hiding. “We arewomen..we are strong.” Thank u SS for your service to the USA.

  5. Bett says:

    Ty for getting is out of our pain as I remember my friends and family that lost their lives that day, to protect all the rest of us.

  6. TP says:

    I commend you SS. Your post does shine a light in this darkness of pain that all of us Mesh victims are caught up in. Each one of us are facing times of trial and during those rough periods it can seem as if the dark clouds will never break. Those who have experienced similar pain and survived find that eventually the sun does break through. We all have survived a serious illness that in most cases has left many of us in severe depression. We have been altered forever with no cure in sight. My prayers will be with Connie S. for whatever she needs to get through the surgery. We all faced our own surgeries, some of us up to 5 surgeries, and somehow found the inner resources of strength. Believe me, the effects of what the Mesh implant has done goes beyond physical suffering. It feels natural to lash out at our failing bodies and the medicine that does not help. We have to accept help from our loved ones who act as God’s hands in our times of need. Sometimes I think I am in this alone. Thank you SS for sharing your post as well as the others. We are all survivors short of a miracle and yes, God still performs miracles everyday. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jane who is the spokeswoman behind the Mesh News Desk, she is vital to what we all want to say~THANKS

    • Connie says:

      Thank you! I appreciate your reply and Thank you for your prayers! Who knows maybe we will meet one day!

      • AP says:

        Connie, you mentioned something that has been on my mind for a while. Wouldn’t it be meaningful and educational as well if as many of us as could possibly go through with this and what I am getting at is for us to have a gathering to listen and obtain an insight as to the different stories we all would have to share. “something to ponder” AP

    • Betty says:

      So truthfully said

  7. Barbara says:

    For all who are having surgery this week, may God’s healing hand guide the surgeons hands. May peace be given to each of you.

    As I was reading some comments today I realized something for the first time. I’ve never thought about having to pay the insurance back with the settlement. Between the insurance and lawyer , I will be thankful if I break even. My goal was to make others aware of this horrible nightmare we have gone through. If we can stop one woman from going through this I will be thankful. May God’s love be with each and every one of you.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Will insurance pay you back the premiums you invested in their for-profit corporation to make them wealthy? Isn’t that why we pay for insurance?, to cover us in the unlikely event we need it?

      • AP says:

        In reply to Jane’s comment, at the time I don’t think that many of us are even thinking about insurance as we try to get through our painful days. With that said, she brings up an excellent concern that some or most of us will have at one time or another. At the onset of the hardships we are all faced with, it appears that all our problems just run together, personally I didn’t choose to pin point the insurance issue during the initial horrible time of severe pain. I must admit that she brings up an excellent point. I discussed the issue with my husband and he told me that there is nothing for me to worry about; he handles all the financial situations so I left it at that. I gave it some thought and realized that this isn’t to imply that every person is not going to have to have a “pay back”, it depends on what type insurance you have. I’m of the opinion that the insurance companies are not going to slap anyone who has gone through what we have with any large amount of money to make things even. We all need to find ways to make sense out of life and if things go out of control ; it’s then that we begin to pray. If anyone of us has to pay anything, my prayer is that it will be within our limits, thank God.

        • Barbara says:

          I h ad not thought about the insurance either. Furthest thing from my mind until someone brought it to my attention. I did call my attorney and spoke to one of the ladies that had helped me before. She told me she knew Medicare had to pay some back. T h ey have a set of forms only. As for my private insurance, I don’t know. I did not m e an to upset anyone, I was j u st seeking information. Believe me I understand the pain. I have been in it for over 5 years. I am sorry if I upset anyone.

          • Barbara, insurance will negotiate a payback. I even live in a non subrogation state and still had to pay back about $45,000. Yes, ouch. However, my insurance companies had paid out about $1.5 Million for my care over 8 years. We paid around $300,000 out of pocket cash. I had no loans nor unpaid medical bills and was not on Medicare or other government programs at the time. Just private insurance. Actually had three insurance companies during that time: Cigna, Blue Cross, and United Healthcare. The Special Master is the one who negotiates your insurance liens with your insurance providers. This is done AFTER you sign your settlement papers? 25% of your gross award will be held back to pay any claims against your money. I would be interested to hear from others who have gone thought this part of settlement.

    • AP says:

      May God Bless you as well Barbara.
      There have to be insurance companies that will look into the hearts of the Mesh victims and not their pocket books; this is my prayer. There are truthful and honest individuals who will be dealing with us; I know this is true.

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