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Society

Woman Left Disabled By Vaginal Mesh Implant (Photos)

| by Michael Howard

A married English woman with two children can no longer have sex with her husband due to a vaginal mesh implant that left her unable to walk.

Cat Lee, 43, had the procedure done to treat the incontinence she was suffering from as a result of giving birth to her second child.

Instead, the implant "ruined her life."

Now bound to a scooter, Lee spoke to the Daily Mail about her nightmare experience.

"Luckily, we didn't want any more kids, but I don't feel like [a] proper mom to Charlie," she said. "I can only do the school run a few times a week, and then he has to walk alongside me in my mobility scooter. I can't play with him like other moms and I don't feel like much of a wife either."

The pain caused by the implant was so extreme that she and her husband were forced to stop having sex.

"My poor husband, Gordon, was more like my [caregiver]," she explained. "As for sex, it was strictly out of bounds because of the pain. I even suggested he could sleep with someone else. Luckily he refused, saying it was me he loved."

The decision to get the mesh implant came after an embarrassing incident at Huddersfield University, where she worked as a lecturer.

Lee said she was walking across campus when, unable to control her bladder, she wet herself.

"On this occasion, as I marched across the campus, I felt a rush between my legs," she recalled. "I'd wet myself and it had soaked right through the pad I'd been wearing."

"I was so ashamed and humiliated," she added. "I'd gone back to work, six months after having Charlie, but I was still wetting myself. I was only 33, but I felt like a granny. I even had to ask a colleague to buy me some new tights, although I was too embarrassed to tell her why."

A gynecologist explained to her that she was suffering from stress incontinence and a minor prolapse, and suggested that she have vaginal mesh surgery -- a simple 20-minute procedure.

Lee underwent the operation two weeks after her wedding. As soon as she woke up she could feel that something was wrong.

"I was in crippling pain, unable to walk or stand properly," she said.

Her doctor gave her painkillers and told her to rest for six weeks, but the pain never subsided.

"By September 2011 -- two years after the operation -- I couldn't even sit down because of the pain," she said. "Finally, at the end of 2012, I was referred to another hospital in Leeds for steroid injections and a Vaginal Wall Prolapse Repair -- a procedure to repair the sinking of the vaginal wall. Still nothing worked and the pain persisted."

Lee gave up trying to work -- the pain was too much. In her free time she began researching vaginal mesh implants and learned that the mesh could tear into the vagina, resulting in severe and chronic pain.

She filed lawsuits against the medical companies that were involved with her surgery and received $435,000, some of which she used to pay for another procedure to remove most of the mesh.

Lee has since joined Sling the Mesh, an advocacy group that campaigns to have vaginal mesh implants banned completely.

"I want to help other women like me," she said. "Since the operation, my life has been turned upside down. I'm convinced the mesh is the reason why."

In April, the BBC reported that over 800 women in the UK were taking legal action against the National Health Service and the manufacturers of vaginal mesh implants.

More than 92,000 UK women had vaginal mesh implants between 2007 and 2015. Roughly one in 11 women experienced issues after the procedure.

Sources: Daily Mail, BBC / Photo credit: Doctorofcm/Wikimedia Commons, PA Real Life via Daily Mail, BBC

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