"The doctor at the Bolivar Medical Center in Cleveland said I had a hole where my intestines were hanging through," says Diane, "so they had to close it with a mesh pack. That was July. In August, during my regular checkup, they received over 600cc of surgical blood from my stomach. My stomach was breaking down.
"It was full of sores and I had to have a home nurse in for six weeks. The doctor had to put in another drainage tube so now my stomach was just huge. I mean it was big before but not like this."
In October, Diane underwent another intervention, during which she contracted mercer blood infection (MSRA), a contagious infection also known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus, a bacteria resistant to the usual antibiotics used to kill staph infections. "I simply knew something wasn't right," she says. "My stomach was hanging like I was about to have a baby and it was reddish from the infection. The doctor said it was like a little firecracker. I think it comes from something not being sterilized."
Diane landed back in hospital November 13th for seven days. "The doctor said he just had to go in and clean up the area a bit," she says. "Afterwards he said the mesh pack was still intact."
When Diane questioned the kind of mesh bag inside her, she had to wait for the doctor to check his office files to find out. "I'm so afraid that I've been on the internet and now the doctor who put in the mesh bag wants to remove it. But at least I knew enough now to be able to ask if that bag was one of those that had been recalled. Turns out mine was Gore-Tex Dual Mesh Biomaterial and the recalled one [was Kugel Mesh].
A computer lab teacher by profession, Diane has been off work two years, despite the doctor's assurance her absence would last only six week. "In that time, according to the state of Mississippi, my statute of limitations has just run out. A lawyer didn't want to touch it. He told me I couldn't go after this doctor because he had explained the complications to me but I'd still gone ahead with the operation. But he did not. I clearly remember the doctor reading from his notes only about laser treatment, and I remember saying to him 'if you're going to laser me, you may as well go in and cut.
"I was told with this infection there was no cure, they can only treat it. And I'd have to be on and off antibiotics. Yet my body still wasn't right and I almost died."
What convinced Diane that the doctor held some guilt was receiving a medical bill with a zero balance. "My Blue Cross and supplementary medical insurance covered my $33,000 costs. But on top of that, Home Help came in and someone, I don't know who, picked up those bills. The doctor paid for the machine I needed--I don't know why--but he just kept saying, 'don't you hesitate to call me'.
"It's like he knew I was going to have complications. A doctor can't say you're going to have complications; he can only wait to see the outcome of the operation.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the surgery was botched, I can tell from the scars. The hole inside me is packed with over a yard of saline dressing.
"It's really turned my life upside down. I'm 51 years old. I get out of breath easily, I can't do any mopping, just a little sweeping, and my sexual activity is real low. My stomach's still sore; the middle part of my stomach has 35 lbs of scar tissue. For six weeks straight I had to wear a KC Vac to suck up the infection. It weighed about a pound or two and I toted it on my shoulder-very uncomfortable.
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He made a medical error but won't admit it. He just says, 'if you need anything... On my insurance papers he wrote that I was completely disabled, that I can't go back to work. To me, that's his admittance of guilt.
I saw an interview on 20/20 on TLC this past year about a lady who had the same surgery I did and had the same complications. She was looking for women who had had the same complications. I'm looking to contact her. I also need a good attorney to look into this."