Rectocele & Mesh

I was up very early this morning because a storm came through my area and awakened me. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t because I began thinking about all the women who have mesh erosion in their colons. Yes it is happening all around the world and the results are terrible.

When I began researching this subject, I noted the amount of studies on this subject was only six months long. I could not find anything about studies after three, five or ten years. This is because no one is minding the store of what is happening to women with long term mesh in their bodies.

I look back almost four years ago and think about how ignorant I was and how much I believed that a doctor’s education protected me. Sadly since then I have come to realize that if I don’t understand about a certain medical condition, then I can be sure it won’t be explained to me. I now know education is the key to surviving the overuse of mesh in surgeries. This morning I am writing this blog for the woman who has just been diagnosed with a rectocele prolapse.

I remember being in a shower and finding my own rectocele prolapse and I was scared to death. Being ignorant I first thought I must have a tumor. I was so scared I asked my sister to look for me and see what she thought. She told me she thought it could be a prolapse. I knew there was such a thing but nothing more, so I researched and found a doctor to go and get it checked. That was the beginning of a long road through Hell.

First I did not understand that a prolapse was not going to kill me. It was uncomfortable yes because it protruded from my vagina and was causing bladder infections because I could not urinate properly. But the prolapse itself was not going to kill me even though I worried that it would burst and the contents of my bowel would spill into my body and would poison and kill me. Now I know this will NOT happen, so don’t panic. First get a proper diagnosis.

DO NOT set a date for surgery immediately when you get the diagnosis. Do not allow yourself to be convinced you need to do something NOW. You do not. First ask questions about your prolapse and specifically the size which you will be told in terms of one through four. One being it is very small and of no consequence and four being it is on the large scale. Do not panic if you are told it is a 3 or 4. Go home and research and think long and hard before you go back. Then ask questions.

First you will need to know one important fact. How will this surgeon fix your rectocele. Get specifics even if you don’t want to know. This is your life and you cannot stick your head in the sand. You need to know something VERY important. What will he/she use to fix it? Don’t let them give you terms you do not understand. Stop them if they do and ask again and say you need layman’s terms. The most important fact is will it be fixed with polypropylene mesh or sutures? Don’t let your doctor fill your head with things like “I don’t use the mesh that causes all the problems you hear about”. THEY ALL CAUSE PROBLEMS!

You should be aware that some doctors use mesh because it is quick and easy to do. They believe that adding a large patch of this stuff will stop you having problems in the future. Don’t believe it. Having mesh wrapped around your colon long term, meaning a year or longer can cause you agonizing results and lead you down the road to a colostomy. I KNOW THIS FOR A FACT because I know women that this has happened to. A colostomy may not be reversed and that many colostomies that are done “near the rectum” are unable to be reversed . A colostomy is the removal of your colon or part of it and they will put a bag to catch your waste outside your body.

If you are wondering what happens with mesh on the colon then I can explain. If it erodes through the wall of your colon, your waste will flow through your vagina and out your body causing you agony and terrible results. I don’t want you to live or die like this which is why I am writing this blog.

Some doctors will tell you that they only use bio mesh. So I looked it up and the FDA states this product should be used with caution. In other words they are giving you a warning. Start digging and ask more questions. If you have a friend who is an RN or nurse practitioner ask them to help you read about this and explain it so that you can understand. Cook or buy her a special lunch because believe me she is worth her weight in gold.

You should know that I had a rectocele done using sutures more than three and a half years ago. So far, no problems. My downhill slide came from the same surgeon asking me what happened when I coughed or sneezed. She asked me if I had any incontinence because of it. I admitted that there was times when I had a small amount when I sneezed, so I always wore a mini pad to protect my clothing, just in case. However, I did not have what I would consider incontinence. In other words I could control myself when I needed to go to the bathroom and could always make it in time. From that moment on she had decided she could make sure I never had to worry about it in the future and there was an easy fix. I had no clue that that easy fix would involve years of agony and many more surgeries to rid my body of mesh and try to correct more problems that came from the use of a mesh bladder sling. Don’t become me!

You may ask if there is a non surgical way to help with a rectocele issue. I having including a link to tell you there is. Please read it.

So now you have been warned. Shop for a doctor the same way you would shop for a wedding dress. Spend time deciding which to choose. Do not make instant decisions. Do not become involved with a charismatic doctor who tries to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. This is your life not theirs. Your body. Your future. Don’t let anyone take it away from you.

I found some links to help you through this journey. Get more than one opinion if you are not sure if you can wait. A prolapsed is not life or death. You can wait and decide.

What is a rectocele http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/repair-of-the-rectum-rectocele-or-small-bowel-enterocele

More facts. Read this and stop worrying unless you are having symptoms that control your life. http://www.fascrs.org/patients/conditions/rectocele

Get your questions answered here. http://prolapse.hyperboards.com/action/view_topic/topic_id/4983

What is a colostomy http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002942.htm

What is biomesh http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomesh

Can I help myself without surgery? http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0501/p2719.html

3 Comments

  1. Marie

    I am horrified reading this blog entry. The reason I am horrified is because 8 days ago I underwent surgery to remove my vaginal mesh. This was my third surgery. The first one was a hysterectomy and bladder sling, the second, a bladder sling revision due to erosion shortly after the first surgery, and the third, a complete bladder sling removal. Upon receiving numerous tests at UCLA, the last one revealed what my doctor told me was a very large rectal hernia in addition to the confirmed diagnosis of pelvic prolapse and mesh erosion. I’ve never heard of a rectal hernia but I have bowel problems and I had been told that I had hemorrhoids. Prior to my surgery they had become significant enough that I had to sometimes gently guide them back in after a bowel movement because they were coming out of my rectum. Over the course of the two years I battled with the mesh issues, having a bowel movement had become so difficult I began taking magnesium every day which helped a lot, and I began eating prunes and drinking hot water every night, per my doctors recommendations. Both of these tips helped but did not give me total relief. I was so concerned about all my bladder infections, 8-10 a year sometimes lasting for over a month, that I put the bowel problems on the back burner until I could get healthy. Having two major antibiotic allergies I was limited in what I could take for infection and the one thing that did work, I became completely immune to about six months before surgery. At that point my doctor put me on an antimicrobial and a pill I could take after intercourse that would head off most infections. It worked as long as having intercourse with my husband was kept at a bare minimum. (it was already pretty infrequent due to the fact that my mesh had sharp pieces that were protruding through my vaginal walls causing both my husband and I extreme discomfort) So the plan was to repair the “hernia” during the mesh removal. After the surgery I was heartbroken to hear that my mesh was so infected and was so badly eroded that I had to have a vaginal and urethral reconstruction and there was so much infected tissue that had to be cut away in order to fix the damage the mesh did, my doctor could not risk spreading the infection to fix the “hernia.” Since the mesh removal I have of course been constipated as the doctor suspected I would be, but I have a new symptom I did not have before. I have extreme discomfort in my bowel. I also have rectal bleeding which I did not have prior to surgery and straining to have a BM has causes the so called “hemorrhoids” to pop out even more than before. I thought at first the bleeding came from the vagina since that has also begun to bleed more heavily, but upon further investigation I realized that I am bleeding from both my vagina and my rectum. The doctor on call, not my regular doctor, told me that bleeding is normal from the vagina but not from the rectum. I told her, “I AM bleeding from the rectum” and she said, “you shouldn’t be” as if I am not being honest or I am just overreacting. Why on earth would I want to invite anymore poking and prodding in my body after what I just went through and why would I tell my doctors I am having problems if I was remotely close to becoming healthy again? I am counting the days until I can return to work and my normal life so why would I even rock the boat and risk any more tests. The hemorrhoids or hernia protrudes out of my rectum after a BM and sometimes it is almost the size of a golf ball depending on how much I had to push. I sometimes have to actually insert my fingers into my rectum to put them back after having a BM. So gross. The main concern I now have is the extreme pressure in my bowels (kind of feels like a balloon in my rectum) and I have a lot of pain in my lower back. My bowels starting working a couple days ago and I thought that should bring relief but it has only gotten worse. It’s uncomfortable to sit, not vaginally, rectally. My rectum feels swollen and full even after a BM and sitting feels like a balloon is being pushed into my gut. I’m cramping like the old days of when I was about to get my period. This was not something I experienced before surgery and maybe I’m jumping the gun since I haven’t had a lot of time to heal, but this strikes me as suspicious since my doctor told me this was a major concern going into surgery. I’m not sure if the mesh removal caused things to move around thus causing these new symptoms or if the simple fact that I have not had to strain like I have been over the last week is causing distress to my bowels. Either way I went looking for answers today because of my discomfort and because of the bleeding. I am hoping and praying this is not an indication of the Rectocele you spoke about in this article. I don’t know if a hernia is the same thing but the images from my tests look a lot like the images I saw in the MD reports I read about online. As for the increased vaginal bleeding, when I spoke to the doctor on call about this she said that could be from the dissolving stitches healing. That may be true but I would love to know if anyone else has experienced any of these issues because I too have become my own health advocate and I investigate further than my doctors word. Trusting my original doctor (and I’m not referring to my current doctor at UCLA) to get the mesh sling for incontinence is what got me in this mess in the first place. One last thing. My surgeon at UCLA told me that when he removed the mesh sling, he discovered it had been placed over my urethra and not under my bladder. I asked him if this was normal and he said, “Well, that’s what your doctor did.” I am curious if anyone out there has had this same placement of the mesh sling.

    Reply
    1. lavalinda

      Marie. I do not know who your doctor is at UCLA but you need to contact them and ask many questions. Yes a rectocele is a hernia or bulge in the colon. Please email your doctor and ask what you should do.

      Reply
  2. Lynn

    Linda, I am sure you’ve heard of “doing your kegels”. Well, it’s hard to tell if you are doing it, or if you are doing it correctly in order to help prolapse. I researched and found out that a website in the U.K. http://www.stressnomore.co.uk sells a product called the “Kegel 8” (I think they are the only distributor). They have many versions of the little device, Kegel 8 Ultra, Kegel 8 Ultra Plus, etc. with different probes, and even sell a version for men. This type of machine is NOT sold in the US over the counter, but can be gotten as a therapy that you have to go to (most likely a weekly visit) with referral from a doctor (if they are even aware of the therapy) but with this device you can do daily in your own home. There are many Kegel 8 reviews on the website about it where you can read other women’s experiences. Kegel 8 and Stress No More are both on Facebook and offer discounts from time to time. I have one and can tell you it works really well and may be something your readers may want to consider to avoid surgery.

    Reply

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