‘Pelvic mesh implant cost me my job’
AFTER a decade of having to endure regular infections, pain, difficulty walking and the loss of a job she loved as a result of a pelvic mesh implant, Lynda McCormack has finally found relief from a new Queensland Health service.
Ms McCormack, 62, consulted with the publicly funded Queensland Pelvic Mesh Service, set up by the Palaszczuk Government earlier this year amid a growing scandal over the medical implants.
In July, surgeons attached to the service performed a 10-hour operation to remove the mesh.
"It's been the best thing ever," Ms McCormack said of the surgery. "They got almost all of the mesh out, just a few strands left, so really happy with that.
"I'd probably be exaggerating if I said the surgery had saved my life but it's certainly going to make the rest of my life a lot more comfortable. I've recovered really well."
Ms McCormack, a mother of six, had the pelvic mesh implanted after developing incontinence about 10 years ago.
She started having pain during sex, developed regular infections and even found a trip to the shops difficult in the years following the implant.
"I can walk the shops now, whereas before I couldn't," she said. "The mesh was pulling inside me. It wouldn't allow me that movement. I couldn't lift my leg, it was mostly my right one which was the worst."
In the end, Ms McCormack had to give up her hairdressing business and her marriage failed, although she says the mesh was only a contributing factor in the relationship breakdown.
"I just wish I could have stayed at work, I loved my job and I was in a good business but it was not possible," she said.
Ms McCormack is one of 143 women who have been referred to the Queensland Pelvic Mesh Service by their general practitioners. The service is open to Queensland residents who have had pelvic mesh inserted into their vagina or abdomen for urinary incontinence or a vaginal prolapse, which had resulted in complications.
Although the service is based at the Varsity Lakes Day Hospital, on the Gold Coast, QPMS clinical psychologist Jan Turner said it was open to women throughout the state, regardless of whether or not they were part of the successful class action lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson.
She said the service was staffed with surgeons, who had significant experience in mesh removal, as well as a physiotherapist, social worker, pharmacist and psychologist.
"The aim was to offer these women a multidisciplinary clinic where they can get their physical concerns seen to and also their emotional needs," Ms Turner said. "We're really here to make a difference to help these ladies get their lives back on track. We've had quite a few successful stories.
"One of my big roles is to listen and validate and normalise their feelings because these women, some of them have had these mesh complications for a very long time and nobody really knew what was happening for them.
"Some of these ladies have been suffering for 10-plus years with the pain. They've lost their marriages, they've lost their jobs."
In 2018, the Australian Government issued a national apology over the "agony and pain" caused by the pelvic mesh implants.