Op butchered me
This socalled simple surgery has ruined my life
As the credits rolled for Corrie, it was time for a cuppa.
But as I stood up to put on the kettle, I felt a familiar feeling down below.
‘I’ll be wearing a nappy soon,’ I sighed to my husband, David, now 70.
It was back in 2007, and I’d recently started suffering from incontinence.
I’d wear panty liners, but sometimes, it was even too heavy for them.
I’d always loved tennis, but all that running around wasn’t good for my bladder, so I’d had to stop.
I visited my GP, who referred me to hospital.
‘I know this happens when you’ve had children, but I’m only 55 years old,’ I explained.
Plus my son Paul was 23.
‘I think that you’re an ideal candidate for a tape,’ the doctor told me.
The vaginal tape was essentially a mesh sling, put under the bladder to keep it in its normal position, so you don’t pee yourself.
It sounded like a solution that would be the answer to all my problems, so I agreed.
In April 2006, I had the procedure done in hospital.
The specialist explained that it would only take around 20 minutes and assured me it was straightforward – but, like any operation, it did come with risks.
They said I could get bleeding or water infections. Nothing else. I trusted the doctors and signed the consent form.
Yet, when I came round, I was in agony.
It actually felt like I was being stabbed.
‘What’s wrong with my legs?’ I screamed.
A medic told me that it was just side effects from the anaesthetic.
But all night I was in agony, right up to my groin.
Plus my toes kept curling under with severe cramp, too.
However, the next day I was allowed home. ‘This really doesn’t feel right,’ I worried to David.
And the incontinence was now worse than ever!
I just kept waiting to wake up and feel better.
But that day never came.
I went back and forth to my own doctor and also to the hospital.
But nobody could tell me what was wrong.
Six months later, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
I was in constant pain, could barely get out of bed. It was like I’d aged 100 years. ‘What’s happened to me?’ I sobbed to David.
At a time in our lives when we should have been enjoying pub lunches and walks – instead David just ferried food up to me, helped me shower. He’d become more of a carer than a husband. Bedridden, I did some research and found the only thing different about me was the mesh that I’d had put in. Online, I found that there were hundreds of women all over the world who had experienced similar problems after having a mesh op. ‘They’re barbaric!’ I raged. The mesh had ruined lives. Desperate to help other women, in 2010 I set up The Meshies United Group. ‘We can’t let others suffer,’ I vowed. In 2012, I went to London to the Medicine Health Regulator Authority HQ. I held a placard that said, Thousands of women are injured by transvaginal mesh and I told the passers-by my story. That year, I went to the Houses of Parliament to meet my MP, too. I had a petition signed by 2,500 people to deliver to 10 Downing Street the same day. ‘These things ruin lives,’ I told them. And I would have said the very same to the Prime Minister, given
When I came round, it felt like I was being stabbed!
half the chance.
I even wrote a letter to David Cameron, who was the PM at the time.
I needed to give all sufferers a voice.
Finally, in 2013, doctors agreed to remove my mesh.
The consultant examined me, told me the mesh had broken up and migrated into my bladder and urethra.
During an operation to remove the mesh, they had to reconstruct my urethra using blood vessels from my vagina, and they had to take the mesh out of my bladder.
They’d taken photos during the surgery and, looking at them afterwards, I wept.
‘My insides have been butchered,’ I sobbed.
I’d been left with mobility problems and incontinence.
‘These meshes should be banned,’ I told David.
I decided to take drastic action to ram the point home.
‘I’m going show my photos to the world,’ I told David.
So I stuck photos onto a placard – they were scans of my bladder and my vagina.
Then I went to a surgeons’ conference in Manchester, made sure they saw my sign.
I sat outside my MP’S office with them, too, in Merseyside.
I even uploaded the shocking photos online, begging other women to join my campaign.
Thousands of women have been affected by this so-called simple op.
Left disabled, suffering life-altering, chronic pain.
In some, their body treats the mesh as a foreign body, triggering a painful reaction.
In others the mesh erodes or becomes infected.
Now, MPS are debating banning the mesh, like they have in Scotland. But it’s just the start. It’s ruined my life. If putting my insides out there helps just one woman think twice about having a mesh, it’ll be a job worth doing.
Delivering my petition My placard of shocking scan images