Latonia’s online search for bladder sling revision directed her to Dr. Flynn and alleviated years of pain.
Ten years ago Latonia was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer. She was never a big fan of taking medication, so she opted out of treating the cancers with chemotherapy or radiation. Instead she made the decision to tackle the cancer head on and have a full hysterectomy to remove her ovaries and uterus.
Before the surgery Latonia underwent a variety of testing and took extra precaution because she is diabetic. During a standard pre-operative urine test, her physician at the time noticed signs of bladder leakage. He recommended that she have a transvaginal mesh sling put in at the time of surgery.
It is not uncommon for a surgeon to recommend placement of a sling after surgery, even if leakage is not present. Transvaginal mesh slings, used for pelvic organ prolapse and for some cases of incontinence, have come under close scrutiny since problems began to develop after surgeons began using this material, which is similar to that used in repairs for certain hernias.
A sling procedure is often the first-line surgical treatment for appropriate cases of incontinence. It creates a supporting sling around the bladder’s neck to help keep the urethra closed. The sling can be made of natural tissue or synthetic mesh. This is decided on a case by case basis.
Feeling optimistic about taking control of her health, Latonia agreed to proceed with the hysterectomy with transvaginal mesh sling.
Latonia was aware that the surgery would require a fair amount of recovery, but she was excited to return to her normal life once she was feeling good again. After all, she had just beaten ovarian and uterine cancer.
The downward spiral
Latonia had not experienced any problems with urine leakage prior to her hysterectomy.
“But that all changed about six months after the surgery,” she says.
Latonia quickly began experiencing unbearable symptoms including spasms in her lower back, extreme difficulty when trying to use the bathroom and pressure in her pelvic region. The worst symptom of all was the pain that she experienced when trying to have intercourse with her husband.
“As a woman, this was the worst part,” says Latonia. “It was a really rough patch for my marriage of 23 years – not to mention many other things.”
Such difficulties may indicate a problem with the transvaginal mesh, which a small group of people experience severe adverse effects from. But these symptoms can also be related to some other problems.
At the time, Latonia lived in Texas and visited a number of doctors in the area hoping to find a solution. None of her doctors could figure out what was wrong and she became more discouraged with each passing appointment.
A few years later Latonia was exposed to a whole new wave of doctors when she moved to Oklahoma to care for her elderly father. In 2014 she finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel, or so she thought.
“I found a doctor in Oklahoma who discovered that the transvaginal mesh had been put in incorrectly, and he told me it had eaten through my vaginal wall,” Latonia says.
She underwent surgery as soon as possible to remove 90 percent of the mesh. Some of the mesh will always remain, as it is located behind a bone. But surgeons generally try to remove as much as possible, and counsel their patients about realistic expectations for reduction of symptoms
For a few months following the procedure, Latonia thought she was out of the woods.
“Then one day, the pain came back,” Latonia recalls, “This time it was different and I felt it in new places.” After so many years of trying to find a solution, she was back to square one and seriously lacking hope.
Thank God for a Google search
In May of 2016 Latonia’s father passed away.
“About a week after my dad died it hit me that I needed to try one more time,” Latonia says. “I had made a promise to him that I’d take care of myself.”
A few months before her dad passed away Latonia had moved to Colorado. Since she was not familiar with the doctors in the area, she relied on Google search.
During her online Google search for a doctor, Latonia came across Dr. Brian Flynn. She was encouraged by the number of vaginal mesh revisions he had performed. After digging a little bit deeper she came across his high success rates and decided that she had to take a chance with him.
“I had given up completely on trusting doctors,” Latonia says. “I was just hoping that Dr. Flynn could tell me if there was something that I could do to fix this or not.”
Within just a few minutes of examining Latonia, Dr. Flynn identified that there were two balls of mesh that probably had been left behind during the removal surgery she had undergone in Oklahoma.
Dr. Flynn discovered that Latonia’s vaginal mesh had not been anchored properly, and told her that was likely the cause of the majority of the pain that she had experienced over the years. He also realized that the mesh had not been measured or cut for her body. She is a very petite woman so her body could not support the large amount of mesh that had been implanted.
On November 5, 2016, Latonia underwent surgery to remove as much of the existing mesh as possible.
After my surgery, I got my life back. Dr. Flynn gave me my life back. He and his staff put me at ease and my whole experience was just wonderful.praised Latonia.
It had taken almost 10 years and four doctors for Latonia to get the answers that Dr. Flynn was able to give her within 30 minutes. His specialized expertise in the area made the discovery possible. Such specialized training and focus is a hallmark of CU urogynecologists, allowing them to successfully address many difficult gynecologic issues.
“If I were to do it all over again, I would start by seeing a specialist like Dr. Flynn,” Latonia says.
Since the surgery, Latonia has gotten her quality of life back. She is now able to live without having to worry about her symptoms, something she was not able to do for almost 10 years. She has a very fruitful Google search to thank for this.
“When I first met Dr. Flynn and told him that I found him on Google, he said to me, ‘Thank God for Google’” Latonia says with a chuckle “My response was, ‘No, thank God for doctors like you!’”