Suffering in Silence: Jim Shull from Synthetic Bard Hernia Mesh

Aug 17th, 2011 | By | Category: Patient Profiles

Lisa and Jim Shull

Jim Shull’s story started in September 2005. He had passed a kidney stone and went to see a urologist who ordered a CT scan to see if there were any more stones.

The urologist looked at the X-ray and told Jim he had a hernia.

“I don’t have a hernia I feel fine, I know the symptoms because I had a hernia as a teen,” he told the urologist in a 30 minute argument. But the urologist insisted so Jim went to a general surgeon. That doctor did the typical sports physical and said he had a small hernia about the size of a marble and it should be addressed.

Hernia surgeries are much easier today, you’ll be walking up steps in three days and back to work in two weeks,” he was told. So reluctantly, Jim scheduled the surgery at a surgical center near his home in Browns Mills, New Jersey.

Jim tells MDND when he woke up from anesthesia he was in a pain he had never felt before and he couldn’t stand up straight. He received Percocet and more pain medication and was sent home. By Christmas Eve he said he was doubled over, the groin was swollen and red and his left testicle was the size of a small baseball.

It’s all normal said the doctor’s office.

When the pain got too bad he went back to the doctor’s office and was told the site was infected. He was given morphine for pain in a pill form and antibiotics for the infection.  At this point Jim tells MDND he couldn’t stand up, sit or lay down.

Another week goes by with assurances that this is normal. When the pain escalated, Jim and his wife, Lisa went to the emergency room.

He told the ER docs he had just had a hernia operation and it felt like “he left something inside of me, that’s how bad it hurts.”

X-rays followed and the hernia repair showed but nothing else.  Instead, Jim received more morphine and another antibiotic. Returning to his original surgeon the first week of January, Jim says he still couldn’t stand up.

“I’m walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He said it’s all part of the heeling process; you’re going to be fine. You’re not going to feel normal for a year.”

“You told me two weeks,” he told the doctor.

Now early in 2006, Shull, 42, with four children, had to return to work as a printer so the surgeon injected the incision with Novocaine. When it wore off, Jim says the pain was ten-fold.

“I called him back and said something is not right. It felt like a jagged instrument was trying to work its way out. The burning sensation was constant and today still is. It would just double me over.”

Give it another week he was told, even though he was losing weight and the pain kept getting worse.

Pain Management

Months passed and Jim shuffled between pain management doctors.

Seventeen shots of steroids and Marcaine from the surgeon to numb the pain followed 68 injections of nerve blocks, steroids and Novocaine. Another pain manager said he should take antidepressants.

“Doc, I’m not depressed I’m in pain,” he said. But despite his insistence Jim says he received 600 mg of Neurontin. When that didn’t work he was given time released morphine. When that didn’t work the Neurontin was upped to 800 mg.

When that didn’t help, Jim was prescribed the drug, Lyrica, which is normally given to fibromyalgia patients. Jim took it only once.

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack, my heart was pumping fast, I couldn’t catch my breath and this was just the first dose. I told Lisa, I can’t take these; I think I’m going to die.”

By this time, Jim’s mother brought a news item to his attention concerning the Kugel Mesh Hernia Patch made by Davol which had been recalled. Jim took the published papers back to his original pain management doctor as proof why he needed the mesh out.

“The doctor takes the paper and reads it and throws it at me. He said  ‘Go have the mesh taken out but you will come to me for the rest of your life because you have nerve damage,’  ” Jim says he was told.

No Hernia?

By November 2006, Jim says he was still in intense pain and just wanted the mesh out.  He went back to his original surgeon who during the conversation admitted he might have stitched some nerves together. When the surgeon left the room, Jim saw his surgical report.

The report said there was no Direct or Indirect hernia to speak of, so when he came back in the room Jim said “I’m going through all this and I never had a hernia?!”

The doctor said it was a fatty lipoma of the spermatic cord which is treated like a hernia.

By March 2007, Jim had found another surgeon to straighten up the nerve damage and to remove the mesh. The original surgeon had stitched up a nerve to the mesh so this surgeon cut and tied off the nerve but left the medical device inside, even though he had been directed by Jim to take it out.

“So now I still have this mesh inside of me and I’m regressing and I said I can’t live like this. I wanted to kill myself. I ended at 160 lb from 180 lb. My daughter thought I was a cancer patient.”

“I was the frog in the biology class” he says of his many procedures.  “I can’t get these doctors to see it’s the mesh that’s the problem,” he says.

Finally, after three doctors said they couldn’t help him, Jim was referred him to Dr. William Meyers, Chairman of the Drexel University Department of Surgery. Jim told him what had gone on with tears rolling down his face.

Get the Mesh Out

“He said I know exactly what your problem is. I see three of these a week.”

From the films, Dr. Meyers could see Jim’s left groin was inflamed and full of fluid. There were 150 small rips and tears in the groin and a three inch gash in his pelvic floor. The mesh had hardened and was acting like a saw, cutting any time he made a sudden movement.

Surgery was scheduled again and afterward Jim says, “He apologized to me. I wish you could have come to me a year and a half sooner.”

The rips and tears were fixed and Dr. Meyers said he got 98% of the mesh out which by that time he said looked like blue plastic tarps dipped in concrete which had hardened.

”Whoever put this in you, I didn’t see where there would be a hernia. You never needed an operation to begin with,” Jim was told by the surgeon.

Two years later after finally finding a surgeon who could help, he was still having sharp pain. Then the groin to thigh started to change color to a blotchy purplish brown. Dr. Meyers referred Jim to a neurologist who confirmed he had reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or chronic regional pain syndrome from the many surgeries and massive nerve damage. The condition is degenerative and likely would get worse, he was told.

His employer wants him to decide whether he should take permanent disability. Jim Shull is now 48 years old.

“All this for an operation I never needed” he tells MDND.

Spurs FDA Public Health Notification

It was only after his second consultation that Jim found he had been implanted with the Davol Bard PerFix Plug. Eventually he contacted the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) with his experienced.

“There were 1,000 complaints but they were sporadic over two years. They said 1,000 out of 7,000 operations a year is not enough to warrant to do anything.”

Shull encouraged the FDA/CDRH to issue its first Public Health Notification to the public about the side effects of mesh in October 2008.

“If I had known original surgeon was going to put something in me I would not have had the surgery.  I think it was the mesh the whole time. The mesh migrated and then with all the scar tissue forming it encapsulated the mesh and then it hardened cutting the nerves.”

The financial cost has been staggering. The original surgery was $5,800. The next surgery was $12,800 and the third to remove the mesh was $128,000. Radiofrequency Ablation twice a year is $5,800 for each procedure.

Jim Shull credits his wife, Lisa for being his rock.  “She hates that there is nothing she can do to help me. She feels hopeless. She sits there and watches me suffer.”

“All I can do is help prevent others from going through this. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Tags: , , , , , , ,

11 Comments to “Suffering in Silence: Jim Shull from Synthetic Bard Hernia Mesh”

  1. What an absolute nightmare. I certainly feel for you Jim, as I too sustained injuries that have left me in pain nearly every day of my life. I was injured by Ethicon’s TVT device, and the only significant difference between our stories is that my doctor told me prior to surgery what he intended to do; he made it sound like the best thing since sliced bread. What he neglected to tell me was the risks associated with having surgical mesh implanted in your body. I tried to research this prior to surgery, but in 2004, there was virtually nothing to be found, and I put my trust in my doctor. That was the biggest mistake of my life.

    If there is anything I can do to help in the battle to get surgical mesh off the market, please, let me know. I think, as a former member of truth in medicine, that you still have my email address.

    Best regards,

    Suzanne McClain

  2. I am glad to be a visitant of this consummate blog ! , appreciate it for this rare info ! .

  3. Brian says:

    The same thing has happen to me, except the military did the surgeries. I am still in pain and trying to get the VA to do something. They just think it a hernia and treat me like such. At first they would just throw pain meds at me, but now it not correct to hand out so much pain meds. So their solution was just cut me off, and lower me down to tramadol, which works only some of the time. That doctor Dr. Meyers seems to know whats going on. The doctors around where I live not so much. there is a good pain doctor who does direct pain shots right in the spots where it is messed up, but it cost 300+ dollars every time I want to see him and it only last a month if I am lucky. He was getting better but then I lost my insurance and I have to deal with the VA. It is 6 month to see the pain doc. I get mad some time but then I just try and let it go. reading your story has help me at least see that I am not a lone with this issue. Thats big deal for me.

    Thanks for sharing this

    Brian

  4. Gina Clark says:

    My husband had the Bard Mesh Prefix Plug right side hernia in 9-2007, it almost 5 years of hell! Every Dr says nothing wrong…he was a man that worked all day long,,,he loved to work and now he can barely get out of bed….he is in pain 24/7 and has no desire to try anything anymore…I am reading so many things but not sure what or how anyone has resolved the problem…Can you give me any names of Doctors, numbers or anything so maybe he can live to be 50? Thanks, Gina

    • Jane Akre says:

      Gina-

      Bruce Rosenberg is a mesh injured man who is very knowledgable about hernia mesh He up up to date on the docs working around the country 954-701-5094..best of luck to you and I’m sorry!

    • Kevon King says:

      I am happy to know.that I’m not crazy. I had my surgery May 1. Went back to work in June, and after working for about 55 hrs a week for 2 weeks I jaded to take days off. I am used to working but after standing, walking or driving for more than 2 hrs straight I start to feel pain. I took off work for 3 weeks in July and went to the surgeon that only checks the area and says it’s healed. After returning for a note in August again in pain for a doctor’s note stating that I’m still in pain and need to work less ours in the day, I was brushed off again with “It’s healed:. In frustration cfm the worsening pain I returned 9/7 got the same response and when I asked about the recalls on the mesh, I was told it’s fine. I thoroughly explained that the pains and symptoms that I have could be due to the recalled mesh and I he suggested I see a Neurologist for pain. What should I do? How can I be certain that it’s the recalled mesh?

  5. Linda Dodson says:

    Jim,

    I’m so sorry that you’ve been through hell and back with suffering from mesh problems. After my own personal experience with mesh, I became a very strong patient advocate. I no longer trust any doctor and I question everything. I even asked my dentist a few weeks ago if the medication he was giving me to numb my gum was within the expiration date. :)

    My husband has RSD from an ulnar nerve being severed. I know what kind of pain you are experiencing from that. Even with all of my husbands medications, his pain never goes below a 7 or 8.

    God Bless!

    Linda

  6. Jon S says:

    Bard Perfix Mesh: I have been in pain since 2003. It took me almost five years to even get doctors to believe it. Then I got an ultr-sound showing damage and blood loss to my…privates.

    Hooked on pain meds for a year – now just living in pain.

    Lawyers are useless. FDA is covering up for a landslide of lawsuits that would surely follow them telling the truth.
    SO Frustrated.

  7. Tom says:

    Bard mesh plug. Put in me Oct 2011 Problems ever since. Oxycodone 4 times a day than wake up several times at night. I will not give up. I am also looking for a Surgeon to help me in Nevada, at least one who believes that person can be in pain even though they can’t find anything. Ive never had a problem before the surgery yet when I tell them whats wrong they say things like , that don’t fall in line with the hernia situation that must be something else or they look at you like your lying to them. I will continue to have a positive outlook at this and hope for the best. If I find out anything I will post ASAP. Thank you all for taking the time to share information.

  8. Eric chancellor says:

    I had the perfix plug put in back in Nov. 2011 . Life has been hell every since. I also started haveing trouble shortly after the surgery. I have been through phys. thr py. -pain managment-2 surgeons-neurologist jus t for allof them to tell me im crazy-no way it could be the mesh ! They also told me that there is no nerves in that area to cause the problems that I have ! But when I show them these websites full of other people with the same mesh having the same problems they tell me you cant always believe wwhat you read online ! Thats what sad is I have found out more on my own reading up on it than they have been able to tell me ! Its all about the $$$$ to them ! No concern for people anymore !

  9. My husband had surgery in nov 2006. He has been in pain, had bowel and bladder issues, lost weight etc. He has the Bard mesh prefix plug. However I do not see that lot reference number on any of the recall list. Is there any way to tell if this mesh is part of a recall or if there are reports of this causing problems. He hasn’t been able to work, but of course the doctor isn’t diagnosing why, so we can’t even file a claim for his disability insurance. He is not able to sit, stand, walk for very long without pain. Any advise would be helpful. Thank you

Leave a Comment

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.