Suffering in Silence: Hal Samples’ Years of Pain Following Mesh Hernia Repair

Nov 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Patient Profiles

Hal Samples and friends

Dallas photographer and artist, Hal Samples’ name is synonymous with the trendy, downtown Dallas art district. His gallery was named Best Art Gallery in Dallas in 2009 and his photographs, film work, and documentaries have taken him around the world and provided an income most artists hope to achieve. You can see his work at his website here.

It was his work advocating for a housing project and documenting the lives of 800 homeless, many veterans and families, that brought the group their first million dollars in seed money.

Grateful for his advocacy, the group repaid Samples by arranging an appointment at the Baylor Surgical School, where doctors-in-training provide low-cost simple surgeries, in his case, a long-overdue hernia repair using the Johnson & Johnson Prolene 3D Patch Mesh implanted during the December 2005 surgery.

Samples continues:

It was there when I woke up from the surgery I learned I had the mesh. I didn’t even know, it was something new to me. It was in my paperwork.  I had some pain.  This was my first encounter and I thought everyone had pain.  I had pain the first month, the second month, the fourth month.  They were telling me I might be dealing with chronic pain as a result. I was referred to pain medications and as a recovering addict (10 years December 4th) I wasn’t real keen on some of the things they wanted to give me.  So I just stopped going and went the holistic route. Found some relief in yoga and meditation for a few years.”

MDND: What kind of pain were you experiencing?

“I would have unexpected sharp pains similar to being stabbed with knives and swords. I would also have tenderness and at a couple of points I could actually see a protrusion from where I could see the detail of the mesh. It had migrated and folded over.

“I began to have problems in my fourth and fifth year. I began to shut down my business. I had a working studio and a half dozen interns, a 7,200 square foot building with a gallery downstairs. Two months later I closed it because I couldn’t deal with the duties of keeping the space and feeling the pain.  So I bowed out.  And moved into a small house and began advocacy for myself. I involved a couple of people, my girlfriend who went to doctor visits with me and heard me express my concerns and symptoms. The doctors would do lab tests and come back with inconclusive stuff. Here I am feeling things that can’t be seen. I’m not bleeding or bruised and I’m trying to seek help and at the same time people I’m seeing in the medical field are telling those I love that nothing is wrong with, so they went with them.  I lost a girlfriend and an aunt that way and got recommended to the city for mental instability.”

Hal Samples Architecture

Could you work?

“Some. I didn’t like the work I did. I’m good at what I do and it means I need to have more physical range than just leaning a little bit. At the time I didn’t have a range.  I didn’t take much work because I was more concerned about the quality of work I would be delivering for my clients. I didn’t want to have poor work.  I had been shooting commercials for the local ABC affiliates and providing commercial work for brands like Marriott. I was turning down those jobs now because I didn’t feel up to it.”

“You have to do something. I went to a dark place. I had the electricity turned off. I went from a really great gig at my studio and gallery in downtown Dallas into recycling to keep things together. I wasn’t the same guy, the guy with a radiant glow people had agreed to be my friend for.

There were two years before gallery had gotten award for best gallery, I received a Soul Glow Award, meaning I had a glow to me and to those people who worked with me.  I didn’t nominate myself. That helped catapult me to grow the business then got one for the gallery, things were motoring along pretty good. I couldn’t contend with unexpected incidences with the pain.”

How bad did it get?

“It created a large separation between me and myself. I had to figure out who I was and how I was going to adapt to this pain. I did it by protecting people from me.  So I isolated myself. I stopped answering the phone as I continued to do research online.”

What did you think going on?

“I thought my body was resisting this foreign material I also felt large amounts of fluid around the material like liquid was dropping down my pant leg. I would check my leg. I thought what the heck is this? There was nothing there. It would be on the underside of my skin. I had zero medical history. My mind had determined this was bacteria fighting each other. 

“I would be told it was my nerve if I rolled over it felt like a snow globe meaning there was a definite density to my fluid like a gel fanny pack and it was burning in an icy hot way.  Either it was really cold or hot.  The pain was beyond my control. I’d be doubled over like a lawn chair. It’s really arresting when it happens, almost like a voodoo pin.   

“I knew it was the mesh. The mesh was what I thought the body was fighting. You could see a tiny little gut. Not to be vain but I had a washboard stomach from yoga prior to having the extra fluid on my stomach.  It wasn’t from large meals, it was just a fluid.” 

Samples went back to a family doctor thinking he was dying. Three trips to the emergency room, endoscopy, a colon scope, sonograms.  He continued his web research and found the advocacy group for men with mesh hernia repairs, Meshoma. Founder, Bruce Rosenberg told Samples about Dr. Kevin Peterson at No Insurance Surgery (here), surgeon in Las Vegas who is one of the few around the country who specialize in removing surgical mesh gone wrong. Someone within the Dallas homeless community had found money through the Dallas Easel program which provides emergency funds to artists. While in Las Vegas he got the phone call – half of the procedure would be paid for through the grant. That was good news since his insurance had been cancelled because of a preexisting condition – the pain from the surgical mesh.

Three months ago, Samples had the mesh removed. Dr. Petersen says the Johnson & Johnson prolene mesh had folded back and was cutting off the blood supply in his groin and was attached and entangled with his sciatic nerve.

Today the icy-hot pain is gone. So is the fluid buildup, but some stabbing pain continues where nerves and muscle have been removed and damaged.

Portrait, Courtesy Hal Samples

Hal Samples

In his 39-years, Samples life has taken him from a six-figure car salesman at age 22 to drug and alcohol addicted and homeless, from an acclaimed artist to a recluse in pain. But passion for art and living appears to be winning out over pain. Though taking time to figure how to get his life together despite fighting post traumatic stress, two films are in the works. He has plans to return to Brazil to finish a documentary on street children.

Samples says he’s not a victim.

“I went from people being this Soul Glow, event space, art house guy to not having those attributes, then I got to experience the ‘What have you done for me lately’ world. Some of my friends weren’t giving me the compassion I thought should be available. Sometimes we don’t want to believe Clark Kent had a wheelchair.”

On Thursday, November 17, WFAA did a story about his mesh complications (here)  which Samples hopes at least partially explains his absence from the art scene and from life. He also hopes at least one local doctor who called him “crazy” saw it. #

Hal Samples, Street Boy from Rio

 

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16 Comments to “Suffering in Silence: Hal Samples’ Years of Pain Following Mesh Hernia Repair”

  1. Patrick Connelly says:

    I’m in the same boat. Had a right side inguinal hernia repaired with mesh and in less than a year lost my right testicle as a result of mesh. Doctors want to repair my left hernia using the same method and I told them they are nuts if they think I going to expose my other side to same treatment. Now they don’t want to help because I’m being unrealistic toward mesh, it’s a good thing. Trying to make me feel stupid and unwilling to help by any other means. Mesh is no good, it is a silent killer that they try to hide from patients. I am going to war against the medical profession and the FDA and Pharmaceutical companies. They are liars and kill more people than guns.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Hi Patrick-
      Thanks for writing…. please keep in touch in that we are raising the profile on adverse events so they become tougher to turn your back on. Did you ever file a lawsuit? Are you represented? i ask because sometimes I want to do stories with folks and must run it first past their lawyer… thanks jane akre

      • Pat Connelly says:

        Sort of, a local lawyer who is trying to find an attorney experienced in these cases to represent me for best results on my behalf. Still gathering all my medical records. Have a few. Thought I had it bad until I started reading some of the horror stories from suffering patients all around our country. It is literally mind blowing how they shame, blame, do other unnecessary surgeries, deny mesh problems, and make patients feel it’s all in their head. Last , but not least reject or deny them care leaving them in misery and in severe pain. Still in doubt about reporting to FDA because from all indications they are on pharmaceuticals side with the majority of the medical profession. Thank you for your response.

      • Mitch Caldwell says:

        I was scheduled to have a spinal fusion but found a small non painful hernia three months before back surgery. I had the surgery for the hernia and woke up to a horrible feeling in my gut. I told them they had left something in me or really F*^$%* me up inside. I was wrong what do I know Im not a doctor. That was three years ago and I have had surgery to have nerves cut since. The doc who did the second surgery told me I was really screwed up inside but he hopped he had fixed enough to keep me from blowing my fucking head off, so I gave him the bullet I had been saving, BAD CHOICE that was over a year ago and I need that back. I feel like I have three nuts and one is crushed in the low part of my gut. If a turd or even a fart move past it its like having balls ripped off. I constantly feel like Iv been kicked in the balls N V Cramps feel like I should be SH&^ing pure blood. I was a police Sgt, K-9 now I am unemployed broke miserable looking for a way to fix this. Meds suck to lyrica, narcotics in large doses, amatriptaline I have tried them all I was getting relief from Lido and steroids injected now I get a few hours of relief from that so I do it as often as I can. A simple little non painful hernia and the surgeon if you want to call her that said there was no way she had done it and that I was a drug seeker.

        • Jane Akre says:

          Mitch~ Bruce Rosenberg is a wonderful resource. As a hernia mesh injured man he has done his homework, not a doctor or a lawyer, not a referral service, but full of info. He’s been there 954-701-5094 brosenberg1@bellsouth.net Please contact him!!

          • Marilyn fletcher says:

            I have had four inguenal surgeries and need another one. Mesh keeps slipping unless I don’t work out in the pool.

        • Mitch

          I am so sorry to hear of your story.

          This mesh plays havoc with peoples lives and when it gets a hold it does not seem to let go.

          How dare they say you are a drug seeker. I have heard that this has happened to many people and find it disgusting when people are in such pain and just need some relieve.

          Take care

          Teresa

    • Patrick

      Mesh is a silent killer and robs people of their quality of life.

      Good for you for sticking up for yourself and not letting them put anymore mesh into you.

      While we do need surgeons for many things this mesh seems to be the in thing to put into anybody that they can lay their hands on.

      They do not care about what is happening and the pain that people are suffering.

      Take care

      Teresa

  2. David Ramey says:

    I am a 59 year old male .Back in 1998 I had an embelical hernia and severial small repairs done on my abdomin with a mesh repair. Two years later I became lifeless no energy cronic pain.I would wake in the moronings feeling like I hadn’t sleept at all and my legs and arms were killing me like they had no blood while I was sleeping.I have had every test under the sun done and the can not tell me why the cronic pain.Next week I see a doctor about the pices of mesh protruding above my belly button.Possablly to have it replaced.I have been sick for 15 years and I think it is from the mesh.

    David Ramey
    dmstrmac1@aol.com

    • Dear David

      What you say about feeling lifeless having no energy and chronic pain it is all due to the toxins in mesh.

      We are left with our quality of life diminished feeling so tired even after having a sleep and wanting to have more sleep and never feeling alive.

      Take care

      Teresa

  3. Terry Bedson says:

    I had mesh inserted to mend a left inguinal hernia in 1989, without even knowing mesh had been inserted ,I have now found out I was part of clinical trials in 1989 to fix the mesh in place using fibrin glue,since that operation I have had another four left groin operations at the same hospital the hospital denied in writing and verbally fourteen times that they put mesh in to by body in any of these operations I had mesh removed during four separate operations involving three hospitals in 2010 and 2012,the first hospital still denied that they put mesh in.
    I then went to Berlin Germany in March 2012 and had a further 27 square centimetres of different meshes removed I have got the photographs to prove it.I then went back to Berlin Germany and had a triple neurectomy.
    I have found a single piece of paper left in my hospital records from the first hospital it had a stamp on the paper which read Ethicon polypropylene hernia system this was taken out in Germany in the form of a meshoma and was wedged against my femoral artery

    • Terence

      We have met and I know that you have been through such a terrible ordeal.

      So many lies and cover ups.

      How did you find out that you were taking part in a trial.

      I presume that you where never informed.

      It is amazing to find out that so many people have been part of a trial without consent.

      Can you tell me what is a meshoma?

      Take care

      Teresa xx

  4. I have just read Hal Samples story and tears came to my eyes.

    What a story! this is what mesh does to people it plays around with peoples physical and mental health.

    Take care

    Teresa

  5. Kathy says:

    I keep saying that groin pain is a killer…. It is why it is difficult to walk, move, exercise….. This story made me sob … Will anyone help us ?

  6. Carol reed says:

    I had hernia repair done with the proceed mesh in 2010 because a previous surgery to fix a rectocele dystroyed my pendendal nerve and in time with chronic constipation led to two hernias. From the time I had the surgery I have been in constant pain and my life has slowly gone down hill. I know live from bed to couch and that is it all quality of life is gone. I have had pain in my pelvic floor that goes into my left leg and into my foot. I can not get up and walk for very long. Last fall the pain got so bad I went and had an ultra sound done and noticed mesh had come loose and was hanging or compressing on the dome of my bladder and I had been having problems with loss of urine. An MRI showed some problems but not that bad and a colostomy was suggested. I told the doctors no since my brother in law just had a colostomy and now has developed a hernia and is having to go on disability. My lower to to left side is bulging out and sleeping is two hours and wake up in a sweat. No fun. My gastronologist told me another ultra sound would be the best way to see the mesh again. To my shock the ultra sound could not find the mesh in the lower abdomen no hernias but a dark area which they think is a large collection of gas. I told my doctor that a neuro reconstructive plastic surgeon would be best to remove this mess but instead he referred me back to the doctor who put the mesh in. Besides most likely losing my life over this the doctor who put the mesh in did not even tell me he was going to place mesh in me in the first place. I don’t know what has ever happened to right to information act which includes medicine as well as a bill that passed congress on patients rights act. I cannot go to some of these drs who perform out patient procedures because of my age and being ill. As long as the FDA allows doctors to use these medical devices and I am sure money has a lot to do with it nothing is going to change. I am most likely going to die because I have no doctor left here in the seattle area that believes anything about the mesh problem except to take the whole colon out or replace the area with more plastic mesh.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Carol- Your story is heartbreaking. It sounds as though you need a consultation with a doctor who may offer you some viable options. Bruce Rosenberg of the Meshoma Foudation has the names of some folks brosenberg1@bellsouth.net 954-701-5094. I believe he might direct you to Dr. Petersen in Las Vegas who has developed a practice not only repairing hernias without mesh, whenever possible, but also in removing mesh. Please contact Bruce for some guidance, he is hernia mesh injured himself and has devoted himself to helping others. He is not associated with a doctor or law firm and is not referring you, just a guy who wants to help. Please stay in touch and let us know your progress~ Jane a.

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We hope you find this a helpful resource. National News Editor, Jane Akre, began MDND with the hope of providing the latest news, information and perspective from the regulatory, industry and patient point of view, something that goes under-reported in much of the coverage of medical devices. The public is just now becoming aware that many devices do not undergo the same scrutiny as prescription drugs and are instead grandfathered in under an FDA loophole that has gone largely unchanged since the 1970s. As a result, patients become the post-market clinical trial subjects, and many suffer devastating and permanent injuries.