Sheri Ragan Still Suffering from Biologic Hernia Mesh
Sheri Ragan is playing the waiting game – waiting for a hospital in Ormond Beach, Florida to decide when and if it will take Medicaid so she can have an infected biologic mesh implant removed by the doctor of her choice. At 42, Ragan still doesn’t know how she ended up with six years of pelvic pain following an inguinal hernia repair, first with synthetic mesh, then biologic mesh made from cadaver skin cells following a hysterectomy she apparently didn’t need.
Here is her story:
“In May of 2006, I had bilateral inguinal hernia repair open technique. The surgical mesh used is a material made by Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson Company, it’s called Prolene Hernia System.
“A month later I was back in to see my surgeon with the same pain I’d felt since the hernia patch was put in. He told me I didn’t have a recurrence and to get my ovaries checked out since the pain was coming from that area.
“I went to my gynecologist and after multiple tests she decided to do a full hysterectomy. The pathology report from my hysterectomy showed nothing. There was no evidence that I should have had a hysterectomy. My pain has not diminished since the hysterectomy.”
Ragan and her doctors thought either the Prolene hernia patch or the hysterectomy would have addressed her pain, but neither did. Her general surgeon in Saginaw, Michigan suggested she give it more time. When that didn’t work, he suggested a “little boost” in the form of some nerve blocks.
“I had two on the genital femoral nerve and one on the ilioinguinal nerve. The first one on the genital femoral nerve worked for almost 2 weeks. The block on the ilioinguinal nerve did not work at all. I got my operative reports it said at the time he put the mesh in he took out my ilioinguinal nerve. I didn’t know that. Imagine getting a nerve block for a nerve I didn’t have, and he had ordered it!”
Pain Like Electric Shocks
Ragan was 36-years-old. She had a new grandson, grown children and pain that emanated from the incision site shooting down the leg which she describes “like electrical shocks”. Most days she was in a chair or in bed, unable to move or work. All of this for a hernia that she had never felt, but was diagnosed when she initially went to her doctor for some hip pain.
“They said the pain was nerve damage from what, they didn’t know. I brought it up to them about the mesh as the source of pain. I asked about the possibility of meshoma (chronic pain from mesh implant) and it balling up at the end. He said it couldn’t be the mesh, it’s effective, it’s hard to believe you are the one person in my career…I’ve never had this happen. When I brought up terms I had learned, that’s when he knew I knew something and he rushed me out of his office.”
Ragan says she kept digging deeper to find out more and her conversations with others told her she was not alone. Another woman in Saginaw had gone to the same doctor for a hernia repair, she also had complications following the synthetic mesh implant and is currently hospitalized with a bowel obstruction surgery. Her nephew had synthetic mesh implanted to treat a hernia and is still suffering complications. Yet another doctor, this one in Ann Arbor said he didn’t think it was the mesh. Sometimes you get chronic pain afterward, she was told. Live with it.
Ragan says she became more convinced that the pain she was experiencing was the same as others she read about who had the same experience following a mesh implant – the same story, the same pain. Once again, she returned to her gynecologist who did the hysterectomy and she called in another doctor to look for symptoms of any mesh complication in the groin area.
“He ended up assisting and taking out a dime piece of mesh that was poking through my peritoneal. When I went back for my six week checkup I asked about removing it all. He said ‘I know how to remove the mesh, am I going to do it? No, because I’m not going to fix someone else’s mistake.’ He wouldn’t tell me what it meant. I was ready to cry and give up,” she says.
Once again not deterred, Ragan had a plan. She would raise the funds she needed to see Dr. Bruce Ramshaw, recommended by hernia mesh injured patient advocate, Bruce Rosenberg. Dr. Ramshaw was in Missouri and charged about $12,000 to remove hernia mesh. Selling her household goods she failed to raise enough for the surgery. So she turned to Plan B – purchasing a vehicle, Ragan went to see a doctor in Dearborn, Michigan who had removed a friend’s synthetic hernia mesh. She drove from Saginaw to Dearborn, had the mesh removed as promised at the Oakwood Healthcare System. But the surgeon there replaced the synthetic mesh with a biologic material called Alloderm, made from harvested cadaver cells.