Janet Holt, 54, has lived on a Floresville, Texas cattle ranch with her husband for 20 years. The couple saved and scrimped over the years to open a chain of restaurants. Four years ago and days away from opening their fifth restaurant, Janet says she was faced with an unbearable work schedule, building and equipping the restaurant, decorating and hiring 100 or so employees. With all the overload and stress, Holt thought the small bulge she felt in her vagina might be an infection. Her Ob-Gyn told her something that changed her life – that her bladder and uterus had prolapsed or descended into her lower pelvis.
The news that she would also need a total hysterectomy was overwhelming and she says she started to cry.
Her mother had had her bladder “tacked up” years ago, so Holt did not concern herself with doing much research on the prolapsed bladder. She did not understand her operation would be different from her mothers, even when her doctor told her how he planned to build a little “nest” that would hold up her organs. The doctor had been her family doctor for 20 years and had delivered both of her grandchildren.
“I trusted this man, she says, “I did a lot of research on hysterectomies online. I did not on the bladder. Even if I had, there would not have been any information available. I didn’t even really understand what he was going to do. Getting back to work was my entire focus,” she tells MDND.
Holt was assured she would be back to work in two weeks. It has been four years and she still has not returned to work full-time.
“Going public on a medical issue that is very personal is extremely hard to do,” says Holt in talking to MDND, a commonly shared feeling expressed by women and men who have experienced mesh complications.
But talking is exactly what Holt and others feel they need to do to protect other women from “this horrible medical issue.”
Holt had surgery four years ago and was implanted with synthetic surgical mesh that came from a kit made by AMS. In the four years since the surgery she has had seven repair and removal surgeries. The mesh shrank, folded and eroded through the vaginal walls. It abscessed out the creases of her groin area.
“Mesh is the gift that keeps on giving,” says Holt who tripped last January due to the stitches in the crease of her legs and tore a ligament in her knee. More surgery is schedule at the end of the month to repair her knee.
Insurance has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, she says, while she and her husband had to foot the bill for travel to Dallas and three trips to Los Angeles for mesh removal surgeries with the world renowned Dr. Shlomo Raz at UCLA. Her sister and daughter have used their vacation time to travel with Janet during these “horrendous” surgeries and long recovery times, she says.
Holt’s gynecologist did file an adverse event report with the FDA after he says her mesh shrank 30 percent. Holt says she really didn’t understand what was happening until the second year after her placement surgery.
“I was having lots of problems, I could not sit, I could hardly walk and I could not drive a car. These symptoms were always just brushed off as something physical therapy could fix. I just needed to “stretch the muscles.” I just wanted to go back to work. I wanted my life back.”
Holt says when the mesh eroded the second time, the urologist said he would no longer treat her and she should return to her gynecologist.
“This was my ‘aha’ moment! It wasn’t me. It was the damn mesh,” says Holt.
What would she say today to women who are considering a mesh implant procedure? “No women should be considering the use of mesh as an option. There are other choices. If you go ahead anyway: May GOD have mercy on your soul.” #