Linda Dodson: Suffering in Silence no Longer after Mesh and Medical Mishaps

Dec 1st, 2011 | By | Category: News, Patient Profiles

Twin sisters Linda Dodson and Brenda Mann Jones

Linda Dodson, a dark-haired, attractive Georgia peach with a long southern drawl to match decided to visit a new gynecologist near her home in Georgia, just south east of Atlanta. After about 30 minutes on the exercise bicycle she would experience a muscle spasm in the urethra area. Not a big deal, she thought. The slight pain, along with her desire to be on hormone replacement therapy after a hysterectomy, had her in the doctor’s office in Stockbridge, Georgia. She explained the urethra area pain and since he was a new doctor and she wanted to be thorough, she added she had occasional urinary tract infections and that sometimes her bowel did not empty completely.

“I can fix that and the surgery is a walk in the park and when I finish with you, you’ll look like a sixteen year old,” her new gynecologist said according to Dodson’s notes she would later forward to the hospital.

Dodson scheduled her surgery for January 26, 2006. The 53-year-old Dodson had two grown children, a loving husband, Alto, and was a healthy woman who worked out about 12 hours a week combining cardio with weights. Professionally she was a self-made woman who had worked her way up through the ranks of Georgia government. Beginning in 1970 with a GED, she started as a utility worker with the Georgia State Patrol and continued climbing the career ladder for the next 28 years through various state agencies in managerial positions and eventually retired in 1999 as the Personnel Manager for the Georgia Department of Defense.  She was also responsible for making sure that the Georgia National Guard troops were paid when the Governor activated the guard.

She understood the regulatory role of government and how to apply rules and ethics to any particular situation.

Yet when it came time to prepare for surgery, life got in the way. Her husband had been in a car accident and her mother-in-law was moving into a nursing home. Dodson and her husband were planning to locate soon to Tennessee to be near their children and grandchildren. She signed the obligatory paperwork “I didn’t know what he was planning to fix. I’m embarrassed to say I did not ask questions. Our generation is very trusting of doctors.”

Linda and grandkids Peyton, Cole and Madison

Dodson told her identical twin sister, Brenda about the doctor and that he seemed nice. Brenda scheduled an appointment.  The doctor told her she had a small bulge in her vagina, though Brenda says she didn’t feel it. Brenda’s prolapse surgery was scheduled for February.

“The Informed Consent form I signed stated, ‘tighten the vaginal muscles around bladder and rectum.’ I did not sign a consent form giving him permission to use a synthetic mesh material on me.  This was an elective surgery. I did not have any urinary and/or rectal incontinence problems,” she tells MDND

Surgery

Dodson’s surgery was scheduled for January 26, 2006 at Henry Medical Hospital in Stockbridge, Georgia, an outpatient surgery center. When she came around at first there was no pain, but within a half-hour, when the narcotics wore off, Dodson says the pain was excruciating and she was hemorrhaging. The doctor ordered 4 milligrams of Dilaudid.

About 45 minutes after it was administered, the nurse asked Alto, if Linda’s breathing appeared normal. Her deep belly breaths resembled sleep apnea and she appeared pale with her pulse oxygenation down to 32 percent. The nurse thought the machine was broken so a second pulse oxygenation monitor was brought in and her husband saw another 33 percent reading. He knew what a low oxygen level meant and immediately started pulling on her right arm and screaming Linda’s name. Linda’s head just rolled around. She was unconscious and personnel rushed in as a code was called and other nurses performed CPR to resuscitate her.

Alto was sure Linda was dying and fell to his knees in the hallway praying.  Several nurses asked him if they could give him something to calm him down.  The first nurse came out and told Alto they were still working on her.  As time went on, a nurse finally came out and told him that his wife was going to be OK.  He asked to see his wife and the nurse responded by saying, “let us clean the room up.”  An anesthesiologist came out and explained to her husband that his wife was allergic to Dilaudid.

Dodson’s research has found, “You’re supposed to start someone who is not used to taking Dilaudid on 0.5 milligrams. He gave me 4 milligrams.”

Her hospital records she later gathered said nothing about the overdose or the true degree of effort that the hospital staff used to save her life.

Dodson was in an outpatient clinic. No cardiologist was ever called. She never was sent to intensive care. The many doctors she’s visited since have all told Dodson she was just breaths away from dying.

She found out the truth a week later when she had another procedure scheduled to correct the rectocele hematoma that resulted from her surgery.

The anesthesiologist informed Linda in pre-op that she coded last week from an overdose and almost died. Linda started crying. She would later learn the hematoma caused permanent damage in her rectal area and that a foreign object, a gel foam sponge was left in her body. Her body was black and blue from the top of her chest to her belly button from the resuscitation.  Linda experienced back and neck problems after the first surgery.  After a year, a specialist diagnosed her with a 10% fracture of her T-8 vertebra, which the doctor said was caused by the resuscitation.

To this day, Dodson questions WHY she would allow a doctor to perform an unnecessary, elective surgery on her when she was non-symptomatic of prolapse or incontinence?  The only explanation she can find is that she was under a great deal of stress and was not thinking clearly.

After reading hundreds of health message boards where other women posted about their own surgical mesh complications, Dodson discovered she was not the only woman who did not question her doctor.  “We were raised to trust our doctors,” she says.

What’s Mesh?

Two days after Brenda had her surgery, along with some bleeding complications, she returned to the doctor.

“What’s mesh?” she asked Linda. The doctor had told her Brenda and Linda were number three and number four patients on whom he had used the Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson) Gynecare Gynemesh PS. He had received his training in a hotel conference room.

Brenda and Linda’s sister, Dianne had accompanied them to the doctor’s office. Dianne says of the doctor, “He told me this was his bread and butter.”

Linda immediately did a self-examination and felt screen material in her vagina. Back for one of her last visits, Linda told the doctor she had mesh eroding into her vagina. The doctor said he couldn’t find it.

“I sat up on the table and said ‘Put your finger in my vagina and it’s up on my left side.’ By this time, I wanted to kick him. I knew he was a quack.”

The mesh erosion caused vaginal burning and pain every time she walked. She wanted it out.

“He told me I’ve got a little surgical room in my office, I’m going to call the sales representative and we’ll do a mesh excision.”

That’s the last time Linda saw the gynecologist.

Get the Mesh Out

In February 2006 after Dodson retrieved her medical records, she called Ethicon.  A nurse named Rita explained if she could feel the mesh in her vagina it would have to be removed. Ethicon provided a list of physicians in the Atlanta area familiar with the mesh product. She chose a surgeon in Marietta, Georgia who performed two separate surgeries to remove the mesh material in her cystocele area in March 2006 and another in July 2006.

Each procedure involved an overnight stay in the hospital.  With no notes in the original surgical procedure on what size mesh or how it was placed, the second surgeon told her he couldn’t be absolutely sure he removed it all.

Calling Ethicon

By July, 2006, Dodson was experiencing post traumatic stress from her medical ordeals and near-death experience, but in good faith she contacted mesh-maker Ethicon, based on the assumption a manufacturer would want information on their product’s complications.  Dodson says she had no desire to pursue a product liability lawsuit but wanted them to know about her doctor so other women wouldn’t be harmed.

“I was hoping by providing them with this information that it would be helpful for them in determining if this mesh product was safe for their continued intended use. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand at the time how manufacturers operated, and how they processed information once they receive it,” she later wrote in a formal complaint to the FDA.

It was now Linda’s over two decades of work in government, understanding a mission statement, code of ethics, regulation, and knowing how to research, gather and present information, kicked into high gear.

Wrigley gum twin contestants, Linda and Brenda

Calling on the FDA       

In February 2007, Dodson and her sister, Brenda Mann Jones met with the officials in the Atlanta FDA office to present a 27-page complaint letter. Dodson questioned how physicians can have adequate training to perform mesh surgery from the Ethicon website and in weekend training sessions; why the Adverse Event Reports have a “clear pattern of claiming “User Error”; why patients are blamed for their injury outcome; why Ethicon recognized reactions including infection, inflammation, fistula formation, erosion, extrusion and scarring, while its promotional literature made uplifting promises of long-term positive results?

Dodson found entries from medical reviewers for Ethicon who questioned a woman’s desire to be sexually active again as a reason for mesh removal. She scoured medical journals through Medscape looking for complications and found studies from Greece to New York that posed unanswered questions by researchers about the high percentages of post-operative complications, including mesh shrinkage, infection, erosion and dyspareunia (painful intercourse).

She asked the FDA to investigate whether or not Ethicon was underreporting its adverse events and asked the agency to take immediate regulatory action in investigating all of the nine mesh manufacturers.

And Dodson suggested since adverse event reporting is not mandatory by physicians, and two of her physicians had not reported complications to the FDA, might there be thousands of other women with complications that go unreported?

Researching Mesh

When the FDA issued its first Public Health Notification in October 2008, concerning serious complications with synthetic mesh materials, Dodson was not happy.

She spent thousands of hours researching mesh, the FDA protocol, and complication rate data, known as “adverse events” on the MAUDE database within the FDA website.  Dodson sent a 58-page letter to the FDA. Administrator, Ann Ferriter, the Director of the Division of Risk Management, an analyst for the Office of Compliance within the Center for Devices and Radiological Health which oversees medical devices. She questioned why deaths and permanent disabilities were being “systemically diminished “by the FDA and urged a “Public Service Announcement on national TV to alert innocent consumers.”

Ferriter sent a letter back, complimenting Dodson on her letter and research.

“All I did was go through the nine companies that manufacture surgical mesh and broke down the adverse events by patient hospital reports, repeated surgeries, hospitalizations and deaths,” Dodson says.

“Once the FDA saw that broken down, it got their attention. If they were monitoring their own database they could have captured the same information that took me seven days to compile.”

Jason and Becca Dodson with Peyton, Madison and Cole

Testifying to FDA Panel of Experts

In early September, 2011, Dodson reminded an expert panel, gathered to decide the fate of mesh, that the FDA had warned the general public of a potential health hazard when tainted dog food killed three dogs.

“What prevents the FDA from holding a public interest press conference and make people aware that these medical devices can cause life threatening adverse events? Is an animal’s life more precious than a human’s life?” she asked the panelists.

Though she had practiced her presentation to fall within the five minutes allotted time to the public to speak, her microphone was cut off before she finished.

In her last sentence, Linda was able to say, “In my opinion, if Commissioner Hamburg fails to warn the public about this medical device then I will consider it a serious dereliction of her duty.”

Postscript

Linda says in recent years she’s seen an endless succession of specialists including digestive doctor’s, a colorectal surgeon, a urologist, an infectious disease specialist, an Eye, Ear and Nose and Throat Specialists, a Neurologist and a Urogynecologist. She’s had CT scans and two MRI’s and been to the emergency room a few times. On one ER visit, she was diagnosed with a fistula.  Instead of receiving treatment for the fistula, she had her appendix removed after inflammation was found (the pathology report on the appendix came back normal).

Her out-of-pocket medical expenses for these diagnostic tests and medicals were not covered by her health insurance or she paid the co-payments.

“Prior to having this unnecessary mesh surgery, I was very healthy and active.  However, since this surgery, my body feels like I have the flu all the time, I still hurt in my buttocks when I walk, and still have pain in my urethra.   There’s not a day that goes by that I do not experience pain in my surgical areas.  I have been to many doctor’s with a long list of symptoms, and a lot of tests have been run on me but not one doctor has been able to diagnose and/or explain why I feel the way I do.  The only medication that helps me feel non-symptomatic with the flu-like symptoms is when I take an antibiotic.”

Because of a state cap on medical malpractice damages, no Georgia lawyer was interested in pursuing a case against the doctor.

Linda has become a strong patient advocate, not just for herself, but also for a lot of other women.  She says she’s empowered herself with knowledge and she will never allow another doctor, hospital or anyone else in the medical field to treat her with such total disregard as the doctor did in Stockbridge, Georgia, along with Henry Medical Hospital.

“No one should have had to experience what I experienced.  Yes, post-operative complications do happen but when they do, doctors and hospitals should own up when they make mistakes.  Patients can handle an explanation when errors occur, but WE cannot handle errors with blatant lies and cover-up.  I was lied to on numerous occasions.  These lies only added to my mistrust of medical personnel.”

Linda does believe that there are a lot of skilled surgeons that are working in the patient’s best interest but there are also doctor’s who are performing unnecessary surgeries on women for their own greed.

The Dodson family

And she learned the first line of treatment for a cystocele and rectocele prolapse is education, and sometimes medication, along with exercise.

“Surgery is NOT recommended for a rectocele or cystocele if it’s a degree three or less.  However, some doctors are bypassing the non-surgical treatments and taking their patients directly to the operating room.  This is wrong!  Our doctors should be educating women on these health issues.”

Linda says her sister is in pain from the waist down and finds it hard to move. “She has to do something’ she says, and may have mesh removal surgery.

As for Linda Dodson she says she will not stop until the FDA recalls synthetic surgical mesh or the manufacturers issue their own recall.

“The FDA’s role is to protect people and families and not put us in harm’s way due to greedy manufacturers.  They already know their product is a problem. It doesn’t take the FDA to tell them to recall their product.  The presumption is there under FDA rules – if it’s a problem and can create a problem, it doesn’t need to be on the market.” #

Linda Dodson and her family currently reside in the Loudon, Tennessee.

 

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22 Comments to “Linda Dodson: Suffering in Silence no Longer after Mesh and Medical Mishaps”

  1. Linda Dodson says:

    Jane,

    Thank you so much for capturing my horrific story with synthetic mesh material. It has been a nightmare to say the least. Again, I appreciate your time and effort that you put into telling my story.

    God Bless!

    Linda Dodson
    Patient Advocate

    • Jane Akre says:

      You are very welcome Linda- You are an awesome person!!!! The best of health to you in your guidance of others!
      ja

  2. Betty says:

    Thank you for this i am in month 3 of reocevry for removal of a mesh sling and am still dealing with pain. I congratulate Linda Dodson Patient Advocate and wonder as we all do when this horror will be fixed bythe FDA.

    This mesh mess has stopped my life.

  3. Dianne Forbes says:

    These lovely ladies are my sisters. They are bright, hardworking women who trusted their, ‘healthcare professional’. Their friend recommended this doctor for hormone treatment. They come away with a date for surgery. Doctors carry great influence and my sisters trusted him to look out for ‘their best interest’ and not his person greed. It was difficult to walk alongside them as they both encountered such a self-serving doctor who gave sub-standard care that nearly cost Linda her life and seeing both sisters suffer years of agony due to THIS DOCTOR AND ‘THIS MEDICAL DEVICE THAT CARRIES SUBSTANTIAL RISK FOR DEATH AND INJJURY.’ The FDA Must Do More to Correct This Ongoing Problem With These Mesh Products.

    • I want to say i applaud u for doing what ur doing to help women. And i know all about the suisidal pain. I have pain so bad in my lower pelvic,lower back,my legs,pressure,i keep infections bad, i stay constipated when i go i dont empty same when i pee i feel full with awful pain yet when i go to pee it any does come out my bladder dont empty. Sex well there is none my husband is amazing he has stood by me thru all this and he is understa.ding exept to what im going tjru. I cant get a dr to take it out. I been researching when i came across ur story. Plzz can u help me or tell me what to do. I cant do this anymore,Im a mother of 3 daughters 1 son an 4 grandkids and i cant do the normal everyday things. I use to b so sctive outgoing had energy not any more this has taken over. This is suisidal pain and i need a dr to jelp. I hav contacted the lawyer on tv an prettu much said i had to hav it removed before they can take my case. I told them i do.t want money i just want this mesh sling out of me and get well. But after i jav got the run around and shot dwn from everybody yea i do believe they should pay me for my pain an suffering as with all other ladies or men going thru this. Thank u. Im really glad ur feeling better.

  4. Liz Reece says:

    My heart goes out to you, sharing understanding of your situation but not having had the terrible treatment that you have experienced. Well – it was similar for the lack of information regarding risks prior to the surgery. Isn’t that the staggering thing – no-one gets to know what they might have to deal with. We are all told that this will ‘change our life’…. yes, but for the worse for so many of us.

    Thank you Linda and Brenda for sharing this and for being such strong patient advocates. All good wishes, Liz

  5. Amy G says:

    It makes me sad to hear women question their own judgment for having undergone a surgery that has created a lifetime of pain. I think as patients and mesh complication survivors we need to honor our innocence for having trusted the government, device manufacturers and physicians. I have to assume many of these physicians actually believed they were working in the best interest of their patients having been totally naive to the culture of profit driven medicine. Linda please don’t second guess your decision I think all of us have kicked ourselves enough for trusting our surgeons. We are not responsible for the outcome of mesh gone awry.

    • Linda Dodson says:

      Amy,

      Thank you for your kind words! I am getting better at not blaming myself. However, I will never forgive the doctor that placed synthetic mesh in my body without my consent. I believe my doctor recommended this procedure for his own greed!

      I hope that you are continuing to heal and moving beyond this nightmare! Thank you for all that you have done to help other people who have suffered from synthetic mesh material.

      Linda

  6. DJ says:

    Linda, it was a pleasure meeting you and Dianne at the FDA’s Sept 8,9th meeting. Thank you for your research, your courage, and for sharing your story. I agree with Amy about not beating yourself up. We’ve all done that. None of us ever imagined the sheer magnitude of greed and lack of integrity involved. None of us knew that the FDA allowed implanted medical products to enter the market for widespread use without any premarketing clinical trials! That is ludicrous! None of us knew that WE were the guinea pigs for industry and doctors! Where is the evidence based clinical science? There are many intelligent women who were similarly “duped” by the “Pied Piper” Big Pharma companies, who played their beautiful music as the FDA, doctors, and, especially the poor, trusting and unknowing patients, went dancing as they fell off the high cliff.

  7. Emily says:

    Two doctors have wanted to treat my stage 2 urinary prolapse with mesh. I am using a pessary and hoping to find another surgical option. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am very grateful, and I am so sorry that the FDA allowed this dangerous procedure to be done to so many women. If anyone knows of a safer option please share.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I have had the mesh and have lots of pain in my pelvic area. Lots of pain and discomfort when i need to pee. I went to my OBGYN in Dec 2011 he said wait 3 more months no forplay and see if it helps. I had the surgery in Jan 2011. I would think in a year everything would be going good. When he checked around my bladder the pain from his fingers sat me up off the table. Intercourse doesnt hurt but any kind of fingering is very uncomfortable. At night it feels best when I lay on my right side and keep it warm, It helped the leakage but the pain is not worth it. I contacted a Law office. Not sure what to do from this point but the pain is no fun. Not sure that the pain in my hips isnt from this surgery for my uterus prolapse. I DONT RECOMEND THIS SURGERY TO ANYONE!!

  9. Dawn says:

    WOW…where to start? First , Thank you Linda for a voice. I too had this mesh surgery 12/22/09. My Dr. made this sound so simple and easy. Since he was already going to be doing a hysterectomy on me why not fix that little problem that happens when I sneezed….So being the trusting patient I said ok . Had I know how they floated this product onto the market without being sure it did no harm , I would have never said yes. But how was I to know exactly what product was being used on me ? So now 2 years later I sit with all over body pains. It is if tho my body is trying to reject the mesh. I have erosion ,inflammation ,pain in legs , shoulder pain , blurred vision ,loss of sexual intercourse with my husband of 28 years because he feels it cutting into him as well as it being painfully tugged in me. I was once physically active ,energetic person. Now it takes all that I have just to get out of bed in the morning. In am only 46 years old , with alot of life ahead of me. Trying to figure out what steps to take now. Do I try and have it removed ? This product that is permanent. Contact a lawyer ? Sue as a single or part of the lawsuits that are all over the TV and internet ? All I know is this Mesh needs to be recalled.. NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sad , mad and hurting in Illinois……

    • Brenda K. Jones says:

      Dawn, It keeps saying…error enter email address. I did…anyway I would love to talk with you. Call me at 770-843-4805.

      Thanks,

      Brenda K. Jones

  10. Patty says:

    Thank you so much for your hard never ending work on the issues of mesh. I am not a sufferer, but my husband is with a different type of mesh. he was perfectly healthy, active and never had major issues before he was implanted with an Atrium CQUR surgical mesh last Sept 2011 used to treat an incisional hernia.The mesh is marketed with an emphasis on the Omega 3 fatty acid coating. That coating came off and the mesh failed, my husband has been hospitalized 3 times since the implant, he contracted MRSA at the site of the mesh, and is now
    facing the possibility that his kidneys are failing. The thing that really bothers me is that I cannot find another mesh in which the FDA could have compared his mesh to in order to get it marketed using the 501K process. This process is criminal at the very least.

  11. Sheila says:

    Thank you Linda, Brenda and to all of the other people involved with getting the information out in October 2011. I’ve had pains and complications since the first day of my surgery December 2006. I had been told by my urologist that this was from my IC Disease. Then one morning in October 2011 I saw a commercial dealing with Mesh Sling, honestly I couldn’t get to my phone fast enough because I began crying that the problems wasn’t all in my head. I even Called my urologist office and spoke to the nurse that I once trusted and she even told me you don’t have that kind. My lawyer says I do have AMS SPARC (TM) mesh sling. BIG THANKS TO BRENDA.She has at least given me hope that I may be able to have my life back. I need to probably have an open operation in order to remove the mesh and everything it has damaged.

  12. Linda Dodson says:

    Sheila,

    Thanks to my sweet sister Brenda, I am on this journey AGAIN! After Brenda’s rectocele mesh removal surgery in April, she has convinced me that I do need to see Dr. Raz. My appointment with him is on July 10th. I trust Brenda’s opinion about this group of Dr’s. Since we both used the same Dr that put the mesh in and her’s was protruding through her rectal wall, I suspect that i have the same problem. I also developed a rectal hematoma after the initial surgery.

    Brenda has shared with me your problems and I hope and pray that you can soon find some relief from your pain and suffering!

    • Dawn says:

      Linda , Brenda is my mesh angel….I will be there july 11th for my consultation..I wish you a healthy surgery and speedy recovery. Dawn

    • Sheila says:

      I don’t understand. I went to nameless dr and was told that I seemed to be having an adverse reaction to the mesh and even removing it, I would receive less than 40% relief. Oh and he refuses to remove it..PLEASE HELP ME!!! Trying to see if there is a extremely great dr in Birmingham, Al?..

      • Linda Dodson says:

        For now, I will be canceling my appt with Dr. Raz on July 10th. Brenda just went through having her mesh removal surgery by Dr. Raz back in April and she now has to have her sigmoid colon removed. We will know on Monday when the surgery is. The surgeon she saw on Wednesday this week told her within the week. No one is sure at this point IF the colon problem is directly related to the mesh issues. There is great concern that the infection will gt close to the rectal wall where she had complete repair. Please pray that she has a full and speedy recovery. She is so afraid that she will have to have a colostomy.

        Sheila, I do not know of any Dr in Birmingham. The only one that I personally have trust in is Dr. Raz.

  13. […] Linda Dodson: Suffering in Silence no Longer after Mesh and Medical Mishaps […]

  14. Linda Doson says:

    I should have provided an update on Brenda before now. Last June, she did develop diverticulitis and one Dr said she would be having her colon out within the week. The colorectal surgeon disagreed with the other Drs opinion and continued to treat her and after 34-days on antibiotics, she is now healed from this bout with diverticulitis. She is so thankful that she was able to get in with Dr. Raz. She is not pain free, but glad to have the deadly mesh out of her body. She continues to go to physical therapy to help with building back the strength that she had lost in her legs. I had to cancel two appointments with Dr. Raz and I hope to be able to make another appointment soon.

    I had the misfortune to spend one night in the hospital two nights ago. I shared my medical history with a 30-year seasoned nurse. This included all my horrific experience with synthetic mesh. She later came into my room, shut the door and asked me if she could give me a back rub. While rubbing my back, she asked if she could ask me a very personal question in confidence. Of course…I said yes. She proceeded to tell me that she was scheduled to have a prolapse surgery. I asked her on a scale of one to ten what degree was her prolapse and she said a ten and she could not sit. I asked her what field of study was her surgeon in and she could. To tell me other than he was going to use a robotic procedure without mesh. I asked if he was a Urogynecologist or a Urologist and she did not know. Mi asked her if she had asked her Dr of any lifting limitations after her surgery and she said no. I then told her that she was no different than most women that did not know what to ask because we trust our Drs to have our best interests at heart. I gave her Jane’s website and a few other’s and told her to empower herself with knowledge before she undergo this procedure. I hope and pray that she does her homework.

  15. Linda Doson says:

    I am on my iPad and I apologize for the typing and spacing errors. This iPad has a mind of its own. :(

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