Dale, age 59, has an appointment to see another surgeon, perhaps someone who is able to remove the mesh, if that is necessary. “I’m always running a low-grade fever and my blood work shows that I have an infection in my body,” Dale says. “I’ve been healthy all my life and thought this hernia would just be a minor setback. Instead it’s been a life-changer, to my detriment.”
While Dale is hopeful that these side effects are indeed caused by the mesh and will clear up once it is removed, sometimes it’s not that simple. Lydia has undergone four surgeries to have a large piece of mesh removed. It seems that the larger the mesh implant, the more complicated it is to remove. “My surgeon did laparoscopic surgery and found pieces of the mesh wrapped around my bowel and intestines. After going back in three times, there are still bits of mesh that he can’t get at,” she says. “But it took me about two years of complaining, both to my GP and the surgeon, to even get him to go back in and look for it.”
“To make matters worse I’ve got another hernia so I’ve having more knitting starting again,” Lydia says, laughing. “If I don’t try to make light of this situation I’ll sink into a depression and that’ll just make my situation worse.”
Both Lydia and Dale know about hernia mesh recalls and the recent news from the Canadian Hernia Society that says up to 20 percent of hernia recipients are left with pain. Dr. John Morrison, president of the society, told CTV News (April 2017) that hernia mesh may be used too often and in some cases the mesh may not be required. Further, he is concerned that this plastic mesh is being used in almost all hernia repairs, and some of the products have not received proper clinical trials or research before entering the market. In other words, they were approved by the 501(k) fast track process.