I am sharing an artist friend’s work that she did for her Happy New Year theme. I loved it and thought it was appropriate for all of you just beginning your mesh removal journey this year and I asked her if I could use it to begin this blog. She generously agreed. My wish for all of you who are suffering so much right now is that one day you will feel the freedom once again.
A few days ago I wrote a blog sharing with you many of my blog links for you to plan a better life and future. There are no guarantees after you have had complications from mesh implants but you can make a plan to try to help your success rate of survival. This blog is to share with you all I did to stay well before and after mesh removal and I still continue to take many supplements. Only you know what prescription drugs you take and you should always check side effects with those drugs before you embark on doing this.
I have been asked what supplements I took with me when I went for mesh removal and how soon did I start taking supplements once again after surgery. Everything I have shared on this blog is from my own experience of trying things and other women also leave comments to say what they took or did. I can tell you the truth that these surgeries are not simple or easy even when you have one sling removed. Add more types of mesh to remove at the same time and it will take you much longer to recuperate and it will take months to see how you are doing. It is a slow process to heal. No one can rush this and I have seen many women make mistakes by trying to get their lives back far too soon. The sad fact is, none of us will ever live the life we used to live and we have to make adjustments.
What I love about Europe is that they will often write the truth when it is left to the imagination in this country and other countries. As I go along with the journey of writing this blog and speak to many women, I have learned that most do get a better life in the future after mesh has been removed. NO they can’t go and lift heavy objects, shovel snow or sweep driveways. But their lives will improve over a year or so if they respect their bodies and don’t try to overdo any exercise. It is also very important that if you are trying pelvic floor therapy you wait for a good long healing time and then recognize when you don’t feel something you are told to do by a therapist who thinks it will help you, but you feel more than likely it can hurt you, say “No”. Very few therapists can even slightly understand what happens to us with mesh damage and subsequent removal, let alone be prepared to deal with the giant obstacles that are put in front of us.
I know that mesh insertion and removal does a lot of damage to our tissues and I found a great article written by doctors in the Netherlands which really tells it like it is. I know nothing about the doctors who are doing these surgeries over there so please don’t ask. I am using some of what is written to spell out what really goes on and give you a link so you can read it all.
Surgical management of mesh-related complications after prior pelvic floor reconstructive surgery with mesh.
Introduction and hypothesis
The objective of this study is to evaluate the complications and anatomical and functional outcomes of the surgical treatment of mesh-related complications.
A retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent complete or partial mesh excision to treat complications after prior mesh-augmented pelvic floor reconstructive surgery was conducted.
Seventy-three patients underwent 30 complete and 51 partial mesh excisions. Intraoperative complications occurred in 4 cases, postoperative complications in 13. Symptom relief was achieved in 92% of patients. Recurrence of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) occurred in 29% of complete and 5% of partial excisions of mesh used in POP surgery. De novo stress urinary incontinence (SUI) occurred in 36% of patients who underwent excision of a suburethral sling.
Mesh excision relieves mesh-related complications effectively, although with a substantial risk of serious complications and recurrence of POP or SUI. More complex excisions should be performed in skilled centers.
How competent are the doctors over there? Are they removing the anchors? I have no clue. Here is more from that article.
Mesh-related complications include mainly mesh exposure into the vagina or even the bladder or bowel, infection, granuloma, pain syndrome, dyspareunia, and voiding problems. Pelvic abscesses and rectovaginal or vesicovaginal fistula are also reported. These complications occur in approximately 10% of patients and may lead to a significant decrease in quality of life. The extent of impact of mesh-related complications on quality of life has so far not been investigated thoroughly. Complications can be treated noninvasively in selected cases. However, with more severe mesh-related complications, partial or complete mesh excision is most of the time unavoidable. A recent review reported a higher rate of repeat surgery due to complications after vaginal mesh procedure compared to the rate of repeat surgery due to recurrent prolapse after conventional vaginal prolapse surgery.
Note the last line. ‘After conventional surgery’. Have they stopped using mesh in the Netherlands even with all these complications? I have no clue but doubt it. I do believe injured women will grow in high proportion before anyone stops using mesh and that will take years. Therefore it is up to us who have been injured, to spread the word one woman at a time.
The article is long so I am leaving you to read the rest of it and to take it in as slowly as possible.
What I do know for sure if you are having complications then eventually you won’t have a choice BUT to have it removed. Yes there will be damage to your tissues. But you do have a choice as to who will remove it and limit the damage as much as possible. I chose UCLA for one reason. I listened to women who went to doctors all over this country including my own State. I asked them to update me and stay in touch and I told them why. I wanted to know after six to twelve months how they were doing. They were wonderful and told me the truth. I also listened to women who went to Dr. Raz after they had had partial removals by another doctor elsewhere, or had not had any removal until they went to him. I learned that the best chance of surviving was put in words not by me, but by those women and that is why I went far from home to have it removed. I know I would have remained in Texas to have it removed had I not spoken to other women and the results would have been far worse in my life. So the countless hours I spent talking to others was worth every bit of my time.
Now back to supplements I took with me to go to UCLA for removal surgery. The pre-surgery instructions tell you to stop taking everything two weeks before going for surgery. This is because they can’t evaluate everything women are taking against the type of anesthesia or pain medication you will be given at time of surgery. However, after stopping taking them, I felt a noticeable difference in the downturn of my health and feeling of well-being. So I took things with me to help me rebuild my immune system as soon as possible after surgery.
I was only in hospital overnight and therefore I was able to begin my supplements fairly quickly once back in the hotel. I did not take everything I normally take every day with me and waited until I got home to begin a full regiment.
First everyone can begin taking chelated magnesium as soon as they are back in their hotel. Your body needs it and it is natural and it does not stay in your body for long. In fact you will pee it out. After being given so much pain medication while under and as you come out of the surgery, it is very hard to have a bowel movement. If you need pain medication once on your own, the last thing you want to do is strain. They will give you a prescription for a stool softener when you leave the hospital, but you may find taking magnesium is better. However, if you have a loose stool or your blood pressure is low, DO NOT TAKE it until you are having a normal bowel movements and your BP stable. The best way to learn how your react to any supplement is to begin taking it long before surgery and take one supplement for a few days before you add another. This way if there is a problem you will know which one. You should learn about the various types of magnesium on the market so that you know what to buy and what not to buy. Read this You can also read my blog to understand more If you have any serious health issues or on a lot of prescription drugs, it may pay you to see an alternative medicine specialist so that you will have guidance as to what to take and what not to with your medications.
The next thing I took with me was probiotics. You will more than likely be given even more antibiotics to pick up at the pharmacy or have someone else do it. This antibiotic is also added to all you took before surgery plus the I.V antibiotic they will give you during surgery. If you are allergic to any, like I am make sure every nurse or doctor who walks in while you wait for surgery to begin, knows what type. They will be putting it in the computer, but REMIND them. The last thing you want is a terrible reaction to a drug on top of everything else. Also remind them of other drugs you are allergic to. I was told by a newly injured woman that she found a probiotic that does not have to be kept in the refrigerator and is supposed to be the best.
While writing this I knew I should remind you to be sure to tell everyone who walks in before surgery, if you are allergic to latex. I also have a problem and another with any tape they use, so I have to always remind them to use paper tape when they stick me with a needle. If not I begin itching and swell up. Don’t expect each nurse to look at the notes, it is better be safe than sorry.
There were three more supplements I took with me and they are all herbs. To this day I take them everywhere because they helped me come back to life again, no matter what I go through. This is what they are
I did not drink coffee for three years during the time I was having serious complications because caffeine can cause bladder spasms. It is especially important to leave it alone after surgery because you may experience this after mesh has been removed from your bladder and I can tell you bladder spasms are terrible. Give yourself the best chance at healing and switch to something decaffeinated. I began drinking green tea a long time ago and still do.
Be sure to carry with you, including your carer who also goes, the email for Dr. Raz, or Dr. Kim in your phones. If you or your carer has any concerns after your surgery, it is far quicker to contact them via email rather than go through the training fellows who do not understand what you are dealing with. You can pick up cards with their email on when you go for consult and keep them in your purse and give out to those who help you. I still keep mine in my wallet from going for consult in June 2012. You should also give out your removal doctor IF you have to go to the ER after you get home and ask that they contact your doctor and follow their instructions. Everyone seems to have a great deal of respect for UCLA and will do it. Be prepared for all eventualities rather than try to think about this when you are in pain.
On the last blog I gave you a link for after surgery care and you need to go to every blog link on that blog and learn all you can and make notes. No one else is responsible for your health BUT YOU. Take charge and do all you can to begin a new and better life. Also understand that medical PTSD is common for all of us who go through this journey and you will feel very scared and off balance the closer the surgery gets and for some time after. If you need help get it. If your family doesn’t understand seek others who do. Read this blog
If you did not read the first blog it is important to learn all you can before you embark on the mesh removal journey. You can read it now
I hope most of you will have family who are willing to help you through this journey. It really is tough and you need them. If not seek a canceller and ask for help. If you really have problems that your own personal doctor is not dealing with or addressing when you ask, it may help if you find a nurse practitioner who will listen. My experience with one helped me through a major crisis when my personal doctor at that time would not help me. If you really think your doctor won’t help after removal, then seek a new one long before you go. I wish I had done that before my removal surgery because I had an awful doctor who could care less.
There are so many twists and turns with mesh complications and you really have to be prepared for every possibility. Hopefully you won’t need to put in your plan of action and all will be well, but it is better safe than sorry. I wish you the best possible future that is filled with joy, not pain.