SURGERY HAS MADE SINGLE MUM’S LIFE HELL
SINGLE mother Sue Turner breaks down in tears when she speaks about the devastating health effects a transvaginal mesh implant has had on her life.
In 2005, Miss Turner (54), of Harrisdale, suffered a pelvic organ prolapse after a hysterectomy.
To treat the condition, her gynaecologist at the time recommended inserting mesh implants to hold the organs within the body.
Since the implants in 2007, Ms Turner's health has deteriorated and she has undergone major surgeries to stop damage from implants that have torn loose and migrated to other parts of her body.
“It has just been one thing after the other and I am so exhausted from it all,” she said.
"It is killing me. People say to me, you look well, but they don't see me when I come home.
“I just go to my room and I don't have a life. It has literally been making me sick for years.”
Ms Turner's health issues since the implants are extensive and include multiple surgeries, acute pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, clinical depression and neurological problems, such as unexplained rashes and itches. She is not alone in her plight, with women around Australia going public about their horrendous health experiences with the implants. A federal Parliamentary inquiry established this year is examining the extent of the problem, including the Therapeutic Goods Association's role in investigating the suitability of the implants for use in Australia.
Ms Turner, who has had ovarian cysts and endometriosis since she was 16, had the same gynaecologist for about 40 years.
After her prolapse, her then-specialist told her he could fix the problem by inserting vaginal mesh implants.
“They put the anchors in,” she said. “All your organs just sit in the sling and they fire these anchors into your pelvic wall; they're like harpoons.”
Following surgery, she experienced acute pain.
“I have a lot of pain up my back passage,” she said. “I could be walking along and the pain would be so severe I would have to stop.”
On the advice of her GP, she sought help from a urogynaecologist at St John of God Murdoch Hospital.
“The specialist discovered one of the mesh implants had migrated and was close to piercing through my bladder wall,” she said.
Following urgent surgery, she took five months off work to recover from the operation.
Last year she was operated on again after her specialist discovered mesh anchors had migrated close to her rectal wall.
Ms Turner said a piece of her mesh implant had “vanished” and there were no 3D/4D ultrasound machines in WA to locate it.
“It has just disappeared; we don’t know where it is. It could be anywhere doing God knows what damage to my body,” she said.
The medical issues suffered as result of the implant have impacted on her enjoyment in life.
“I used to be really outgoing, I use to laugh all the time. Now I cry at work. I just break down for no reason. I have to lie down at work during my lunch break some days because I am in that much pain,” she said..
“I can’t garden any more. I used to fish, I can’t fish. If I go to the market or go out walking or shopping sometimes I have to leave my trolley and come home. I sweat profusely. I have pain in my legs and joint pain all over.
“I haven’t had a relationship. I just don’t put myself out there. I have had people ask me out but I just freeze because I think what guy is going want to be with me.
“I can’t even have sex, so I just haven’t had relationships.”
The Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group on Facebook with more than 700 members has provided Ms Turner with support and information.
She said people wanting to contact the group could email email@example.com or visit the group's Facbeook page.
Ms Turner’s friends have set up a Go Fund Me site to raise money for her to travel to Sydney for surgery later this year.
She said there was only one surgeon in Australia who had recently been trained by a US surgeon on how to remove the transvaginal mesh implants.
Both doctors will be in Sydney later this year to conduct surgeries.
To make a donation towards Ms Turner’s travel and accommodation costs in Sydney, visit www. gofundme.com/hvs9c.
A Senate inquiry into the transvaginal mesh problem is calling on submissions to be made by May 31.
Senator Derryn Hinch has spearheaded the campaign for the inquiry named the ‘Number of women in Australia who have had transvaginal mesh implants and related matters’.
Senator Hinch called the problem a national disgrace, saying the mesh had crippled thousands of mothers in Australia and overseas.
“I believe this is one of the greatest medical scandals and abuses of mothers in Australia’s history,” he said.
The inquiry report is due on November 30.
Phone 02 6277 3515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sue Turner is one of many women in Australia experiencing health problems following a transvaginal mesh implant in 2007.