'Thought I was going mad' with pain

Denise Gordon-Glassford and her dog Floss at her home in North Taieri. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Denise Gordon-Glassford and her dog Floss at her home in North Taieri. Photo by Linda Robertson.
A North Taieri woman says she became suicidal because of the ''excruciating pain'' caused by surgical mesh complications.

Denise Gordon-Glassford (42) had the mesh taken out at her own insistence, as the medical profession had denied it was the cause of her pain.

''I was quite happy to end my life. If they didn't take out the mesh, I was most likely going to end my life.''

Since her surgery in Christchurch last month, she is no longer on narcotics such as Oxynorm for pain relief.

It appeared to have been successful, but it was too soon to say when she would be able to work, or recover her normal level of function.

The mesh was used during vagina prolapse surgery in 2010.

The debilitating pain that followed eventually caused her to quit her job at New World in Mosgiel.

''I thought I was going mad.''

Mrs Gordon-Glassford had a sex change operation in 2005, and the prolapse surgery was a consequence of complications from the procedure.

She had an almost complete lack of follow-up care for complications arising from the sex change operation.

Her own GP had been on extended leave after her 2010 mesh operation and, in her doctor's absence, it had been difficult to find an understanding medical professional.

Women were made to feel like they were on their own with the problem.

Her gender reassignment history probably made it harder for her to gain help, as she was put in the ''too-hard basket'' by the medical profession.

Now, she wanted to help other women by speaking up about surgical mesh.

It was a hidden problem the medical profession had been keeping quiet, she believed.

Many women were scared and frustrated, and were not able to access help for their complications.

''Hopefully, by speaking out, going public about my personal situation, however difficult it is for me, [I can help other women].

''I can't sit back and watch other people go through the torture and discomfort that I've been through.''

Since joining the Mesh Down Under patient lobby group recently, ''I finally feel I'm not alone.''

The situation was traumatic for partners and husbands too, she said.

In some women, the mesh was too embedded in the body to extract, and she was lucky that as far as she knew, all of hers was taken out.

Any medical device used in the body ought to be accessible for extraction, she said.

There was a lack of financial support for women who were debilitated by the mesh.

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