Lucie Loves... Health & Wellbeing // Sign the petition and help sling the mesh
Thirteen years ago my mum had a “simple tape” operation to prevent stress incontinence.
You know when you laugh/sneeze/cough so hard that a little bit of wee comes out? Yep! That’s it. It’s a common problem for many women — particularly after childbirth, and multiple children.
At the time of the operation, back in 2004, I vividly remember my mum explaining that she was having an operation to have a sling put in under her bladder.
The doctors described this sling as a “simple tape” or “hammock”, which was supposed to help support the bladder, stop any necessary Tena Lady usage or embarrassing “oh my god! I’ve wet myself in public” moments.
Her operation was a success, as far as my mum was concerned, as she no longer had these embarrassing accidents. Although, the urge incontinence* (*when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go...) got worse.
However, within a couple of years, a spate of other gynaecological problems emerged. Cystocele. Rectocele. Constant Urinary Tract Infections.
After multiple trips to the doctor, she knew something wasn’t right. However, nobody told her that it could be connected to the “simple tape”.
Flash forward to April 2017.
My mum picks up a newspaper and reads an article about women who, like her, are experiencing a whole series of problems after having the sample “simple tape” procedure. The simple tape is also known as Polypropylene Mesh or Trans Vaginal Tape (TVT). It’s also used for Trans Obturator Tape (TOT), Pelvic Organ Prolapse and treatment of abdominal Hernias (like the horrendous reaction to the Hernia operation using mesh that Professor Green experienced.)
The article contained a link to the Victoria Derbyshire Show, who had recently done a tv piece about women who were left in chronic pain — and in some cases with severe disabilities — after having mesh implanted. Victoria Derbyshire also mentioned a campaign and support group, set up by journalist Kath Sansom, called Sling the Mesh, who are fighting to get the use of mesh banned.
Upon seeing this, a lightbulb came on. My mum quickly realised that many (if not all) of her recent symptoms of ill-health could quite possibly be pinned down to mesh. She went to see her doctor at the next possible opportunity and showed her the information she had gathered from Sling the Mesh.
The doctor confirmed that what these other women were describing sounded very much like my mum’s symptoms. Thankfully, my mum’s GP was supportive, which meant that she was able to request a referral to one of two mesh removal specialists in the UK.
Unfortunately, her GP had to refer her back to the very same consultant who implanted the mesh in the first place.
The consultant said “mesh is not a problem, but refer her to a mesh removal specialist.”
My mum was then referred to Miss Sohier (Suzy) Elneil (a Consultant Urogynaecologist and Uro-neurologist, renowned for her work in Female Genital Multilation repair in the developing world) , who is based at the University College London Hospital, and also has a private practice in Harley Street.
To expedite proceedings, my mum paid £250 for a private consultation first and afterwards was put on Miss Elneil’s NHS list for mesh removal. This was July 2017, just as the Sling the Mesh campaign was lobbying MPs in Parliament to raise awareness of mesh complications and the damage caused by this unregulated medical device.
Four months later, in November 2017, Mum went down to London again for a translabial scan (the only type of scan that will show any mesh) at Croydon hospital, with Miss Renee Thakar. She then sent the results to Miss Elneil, who explained that the mesh was too high and too tight, and looks more like a TOT, than a TVT. Which would make it more difficult to remove.
So why does mesh need to be removed?
It turns out that the material that mesh is unregulated for medical use. It’s made out of polypropylene, which is also the type used to make cable ties. The use of of mesh is currently being debated in both British and Scottish Parliament. As of November 2017, New Zealand have now banned the use of mesh entirely, and it’s now banned in the UK for POP operations only.
If you would like to help ban the use of unregulated mesh, please sign this petition. The Sling the Mesh group is campaigning to get the use of mesh suspended and provide support for people going through the problems.
Find out more about Sling the Mesh on Facebook and get support from like-minded people
Want to know more about the issues linked to mesh? Check out this BBC article.
So what’s the latest with my Mum? My mum is now booked in for an operation to remove her mesh on 24th January 2017. The intricacy of the procedure is likened to that of “getting chewing gum out of hair” or “removing metal from concrete without damaging the surrounding concrete” and will take between 2-4 hours, and can lead to bladder damage or even losing your bowel.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I know that this isn’t the type of post I usually share, so I very much appreciate your support in taking the time to find out more and would love you to sign this petition and helping hundreds of thousands of people, like my mum, around the world who are suffering at the hands of this barbaric procedure. As there’s no follow up procedure done after this treatment, it’s unknown just how many people this has affected. So every little helps!
buy a #slingthemesh t-shirt
Want to support the Sling the Mesh campaign? Buy a t-shirt and tag @meshcampaign on twitter and @slingthemesh on Instagram using the hashtag #slingthemesh
To order your #SlingtheMesh t-shirt, follow these steps:
- Log into your PayPal account
- Click 'pay a friend'
- Enter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Each t-shirt costs £13.50 and comes in sizes small (fits 8-10), medium (12-14), large (16), XL (18-20), XXL (20-22)
I'm wearing a size medium in the post and it's very roomy! Don't forget to check postage cost before placing your order.
Love Lucie x