Teresa and David Sawyer and Ranger

“You can’t believe how a little piece of mesh can change your life” says David Sawyer about the operation his wife had in February, 2011. During surgery to remove a cyst, a Toledo doctor put a piece of prolene mesh inside Teresa Sawyer, 42, to treat incontinence. By March, the blue colored mesh began coming out of her vagina.

Returning to the same doctor because of the pain, he had a solution – he planned to fold some skin over the exposed mesh as a “fix” but Teresa decided she wanted the plastic medical device out.

“It was literally like a piece of your window screen. You’re ripped by it, that’s how sharp it is” said David, a carpenter and handyman by trade who always accompanies his wife to every doctor’s appointment. Another surgery followed and the same gynecologist said he had removed the mesh, but by July her bladder infections and severe pain returned. At a follow up with the same doctor, David had to point out to the doctor the blue mesh in his wife’s vagina. “The doctor said you’re not 21 anymore” as a way to explain why the mesh would migrate out of her body. The couple says that’s when the physician “starts pulling this stuff out” with no anesthesia. “She’s raising off the table,” said David. The doctor pulled a little more and clipped the mesh and David said he turned to him and said “it’s all gone.”

“Every aspect of our lives is ruined” says David who bought a house planning to gut it and rebuild from the bottom us. Now it sits gutted as he is busy taking care of his wife who can’t take immune suppressants for her rheumatoid arthritis because of her constant infections. As a result, he says she can’t hold a coffee cup and has constant pain in her joints. In a last ditch effort, the coupled traveled to the Cleveland Clinic where they were told another type of mesh would fix the problem.

They have heard it all – that the TVT bladder lift is the “Gold Standard”, that Teresa is depressed and should take antidepressants, that they’re “reading too much on the net.”

“I asked one of the nurses how do you learn about mesh?” says Teresa.  “She said ‘I only know what the pharmaceutical companies tell me.’ ”