Touched by an Angel
The saddest day begins with the loss of an angel
“Davonne, how I will miss hearing your Tennessee accent when we talk on the phone. How sad I am that now I know we will never meet in person. I can now tell the world that you are truly the kindest and most supportive of mesh injured women, in the mesh community. This world will be a much sadder place without you.”
It is only 9.30 am and I am trying to make sense of the loss of a beautiful woman, who had a beautiful soul. I don’t want to write about her this soon, but I know she didn’t just touch my life, she touched many other women’s lives, who were dealing with their mesh injuries.
Davonne, many women knew as Beth. She had her family profile and another where she was known as Beth Berry, on Facebook. You may wonder why she kept her two worlds separate and this is what she shared with me when she joined me on Facebook.
“That first comment I made on Mesh Angel Network back in June 2014, I used the name Beth.. My real name is Davonne Atkins,I live in Seymour Tn. I’m not sure why I didn’t post my real name, maybe because I was so ashamed this was happening to me..?? I think the doctors almost had me convinced I really might be crazy. ? I guess I used Beth because that’s my baby that passed away her middle name, Karlee Beth Atkins. I have wanted to tell you this for a while. When Kaitlin told me that she posted about me, mesh awareness and mesh angel network, I thought I should tell you my real name.”
So now you know the reason she had two separate pages and I am sure some of you understand how she felt.
Soon after this message she sent me another.
“Beth. And still be Beth Berry on here. Gosh, that confuses me!! Have I confused you? Lol. I hope you are not upset with me. And I hope all of this makes sense. I know me and my family are so Thankful that I found you. Thank you Linda.”
I am writing very soon this morning, because I know other women are in shock this morning and they want women who are mesh injured and in support groups, to know of her loss. But I do not want to make this tribute to her to be all about mesh. I want you to know that she was a very special woman who helped many other women when they were going through a really bad time.
When I awoke this morning, I did my normal things. I made tea for me and coffee for Kim, my daughter while she fed and walked the dogs. It is a grey morning with a good chance of storms later today, which just happens to be the same color as my thoughts after I read a private message on Facebook this morning.
It was from her daughter Kaitlin. She told me that she and her family was in shock, because her mother was killed in an accident yesterday. This was the short message, which stopped me in my tracks.
“Linda my momma was killed in a car accident today and I know that you would want to know. We are in absolute disbelief”
It was posted later yesterday 28th May, and I did not see it until this morning because I have stopped going to social media, earlier in the day, so I can give more of my time to my family, of Kim and our sweet rescue dogs.
The impact of Kaitlin’s words took me a while to digest and share with the women who Davonne, known as Beth, had touched their lives. I don’t have any details about what happened yesterday, and although I replied to Kaitlin, it may be time before I do. But when I do, I will add an update to this blog.
Davonne didn’t regard herself as a victim of mesh, because that was not all she was. She was a wife, daughter and mother to her closest family. She left behind a loving and supportive husband who made sure she had the finances to go to UCLA and have her mesh removed and return for reconstruction surgery. Her Mom was with her, accompanying her during surgeries and Kip her husband joined her as soon as he could.
Davonne knew loss during her life, in the hardest of ways. She had lost a daughter at 20 month’s old in 2004. This is a recent post.
“It was a Tuesday night.. 8:15 pm on August 10th, 2004…
12 years ago I held this little girl and watched her take her last breath here on this earth. I felt her sick little body leave our world and became whole, happy and healed, Kaitlin would tell me, “momma, she can run now” This is what helps me get through sad times like today.
12 years have gone by, I’m not the same, I will never be the same… We will always think of our sweet baby that was so loved by all who met her. I did not lose EVERYTHING, but I lost 1 of the 3 of my EVERYTHING.
I realize how precious our time on Earth is..how in a second, all we have can vanish..
I love all my family and friends who show me no matter how long she has been gone , that Karlee Beth is not far away from their hearts and minds even after 12 years.. Thank you.
I have clinged to God’s word in knowing one day I will see Karlee Beth.. One day I will be made whole again too.”
My eyes are filled with tears as I type this, but I know she is with her baby and is now holding her in her arms. I hope knowing this, gives her grieving family a little touch of peace.
When I think of Davonne I think of her Tennessee accent, which she often apologized for. But there was no need, because I loved it. During our many conversations, I began to know her better and understand that she was a woman who loved her family and simple things, that she could enjoy with them.
Here are things you may not know about her. She loved Thrift stores and she would buy things that she could make a little bit of money from and sell on EBay and then she would donate to Mesh Angels and ask Kim to send a package direct to a woman who was having surgery, or was suffering. She would also send women money to help them get out to U.C.L.A. Many women have been the recipient of her thoughtful generosity.
She would say to me when I thanked her for her donation, “I know it isn’t much, but perhaps it helped them in a small way”. She was such a kind caring person who although had the mesh removed, still had pain and health issues, because of it. But she was always grateful it was out of her body.
Davonne once told me she had been so mean to her family at times, because of pain. She hated it and told me she was trying to make amends. She sent me notes both before and after her surgeries, apologizing for any time she took away from my own life, but wanted to know how to help herself during her recovery. She was very determined to get back on her feet again, if at all possible.
Many of us know how hard it is dealing with leg, groin, hip and thigh pain. She struggled with it even after removal, but she wanted to do more with her family. She loved going camping with them, but the hardest trip was after removal surgery and she was totally incontinent. We went back and forth because she knew I understood what total incontinence was and she really wanted to have a catheter put in, to make it easier, while she was away. I warned her that it would only cause more infections and as hard as it was, it was best not to use a catheter. She agreed.
I am always grateful for the men who support their women, even though I know how hard this is for everyone involved in this awful journey. This is what she told me about Kip, her husband when he joined her for her surgery. Davonne was very frugal, which I completely understood and she never indulged on anything for herself.
“Kip (husband) got here last night. He decided to rent a car today. $75.00 all said and done for the day. He took me to all the beaches, Hollywood, I have seen things I never thought I would see. He has been very good to me.”
To go around the area at UCLA in a car she asked me about sitting while dealing with pain and I told her to get a memory foam pillow. This is more of what she said about that day.
“He let me take lots of breaks, had my stinky pillow, it has strong chemical smell. He wanted to keep my mind occupied. Now it’s racing. I’m nervous. I could puke. I will let you know how it goes. Dr.Raz will be fresh. I hope. He has been out of the country since April 24 or 25th. I guess someone is before me. I have to be there at 9. Surgery at 1030.
Lots of love. I hope you had a good day. You are a good momma in my book.”
I can still hear her laughing over the phone, because she said that Kip called me her Mesh Momma.
After her removal surgery, she sent me the following note.
“Oh Linda. I feel like a different person. I. AM. Better!! I have a little surgery pain. But no mesh pain!! My brain seems so much clearer. I just can’t get over how I feel. They haven’t let me walk yet. They say Dr.Raz will be here soon. Thank you Linda!”
Many women are relived after it is gone from their body, just like I was, but only time will tell what we will be left with. The big thing is to get it out as soon as you can and then give yourself time to heal.
Just before leaving for home, she sent me this note. “Linda, I’m going home today! Back to Tennessee. Thank you so much! Oh, so much!! I’m so emotional. like guilty. because I have been able to come out here and have Dr.Raz remove my mesh.”
When I sent, her birthday wishes after her removal surgery, she replied this.
“Thank YOU my dear friend! I feel pretty lucky to be celebrating my birthday today. If I hadn’t found you, I truly believe I would have been on my death bed! But I’m not! WHOOOhooo! lol! “
Now you know why she helped others to get to UCLA. She is indeed a wonderful angel who did so much good on this earth.
I know women want to share about her loss because she helped so many of them, which is why I have written what I could today, about who she was. But she was so much more than mesh. She was such a loving wife, mother and daughter. I promise you that when I can I will share more about the awful circumstances of her loss, once I have spoken to her daughter and know the facts.
Davonne is survived by her husband Kip, seventeen-year-old son Karson and a twenty-one-year old daughter Kaitlin. She is also survived by her extended family which includes her parents, Dave and Carolyn Atkins.
I will always remember her and may she rest in peace.
This morning I sent Dr. Raz an email to inform him of her loss. I thought as her special surgeon, he would want to know.
Before I close this blog, today would have been Paula’s sixty-first birthday. Another angel who left this earth, far too soon. You can read about Paula on this blog. http://www.meshangels.com/farewell-sweet-angel/
I promised I would give this update as soon as I knew something more.
Davonne died in a tragic accident caused by a heart attack. She was alone in her car and no other vehicles were involved. At the present time, there is an investigation. Please allow the family their private time and try not to ask personal questions.
This morning I received a note from Kaitlin, her daughter which touched me, because Davonne would love this. This is what she asked.
“Instead of having a preacher stand and preach like they do at most funerals, we are going to try and compile a eulogy type of deal where we read women’s testimonies of how my mom has helped them over the years. So if you could please make a post telling women to send their stories of my mom to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would truly appreciate it!!!”
If you do wish to write about your experience with Kaitlin’s mother, please keep it to the point to make your words readable, during the service. If you find it difficult to find the right words, find a poem that helped you during your own loss and share what it meant to you.
This is what I want women to know. Davonne’s mesh implant journey began with the AMS Miniarc sling, in May 2011. I know that some doctor’s tout the mini slings as those that do not do harm. They are wrong! You should also know, that more important than how a person dies, is how they lived. The reason I posted a blog was not because of sensationalizing Davonne’s death, but it personalizes how she lived and who she was. She was a selfless giver who thought of herself as a simple Tennessee country girl. Even though she was not well travelled, her reach was far and wide in what she did to help other women, through their own mesh injury journey.
The reason women tend to seek other injured women, is because the journey of mesh implant complications for many, begins with loneliness and isolation. That loneliness has no bearing on the family that surrounds us daily. It is because unless you live with the pain and anguish of an implant, you cannot understand the full force of the consequence. By reaching out to other women who are going through similar complications, it gives us a purpose and a reason for hope, when we find others whose lives are improving.
Davonne was a quiet activist in the War on Mesh. She and I had discussed my philosophy about how we could do the best for any woman in this war and like me she felt that helping one woman at a time, through sharing her own ordeal, was the best way she could help them. Not only this, but our aim is to educate those who may be considering any female surgery such as a hysterectomy or prolapse repair, in hopes we could change the lives of a few women who would listen and believe us. But it is far from easy.
Women who are already injured by these pelvic implants, know that it is an attack on our womanhood. Davonne felt strongly about this, because she was young and had a loving husband, who she wanted to be with. But these injuries cause us to doubt our own femininity. They leave us feeling less of a woman and full of anguish.
She told me just a few days ago, of a therapy that she had begun, to help her deal with all she had been through. I am going to add the link at the end of this blog, in case you too are struggling with the mental anguish of an implant. Like many women, if she thought telling me about something she was trying, would help another woman, she was happy to help with the information. I will explain more at the bottom of this blog.
Davonne was far too young to leave this earth and her family, but I hope what I shared about her on this blog, will give them more insight as to the deeply caring person she was.
It is hard for me to think of her in the past tense as I know it is for other women who she helped and talked to on a regular basis. Yesterday was a time of shock and grief, but I know Davonne would not want women to grieve and forget about finding a way to move forward and heal. Her message to you would be the same as mine. Find a way to get to UCLA and have the mesh completely removed. Do all you can to begin living again and find the joy in your daily life.
Yesterday I sent Dr. Raz a short email telling him about her departure from this earth. This morning he answered.
“I am so sorry to hear about it.
Life is full of the unexpected. We don’t always control our destiny.”
He is right. We don’t have any control in our destiny, but we can take charge of our lives.
I have written poetry for a huge part of my life and Davonne loved what I wrote because she said it had helped her. One poem, ‘Fear’ is the one that goes out with the Mesh Angel packages. I wrote it because dealing with these surgeries, is cause for a great deal of fear.
I have many poems I have written and some have been shared during funerals for the passing of a loved one. I am going to ask Kaitlin to read the following poem during Davonne’s funeral. I feel that she has left behind, many solid and loving footprints during her mesh injury journey, that other women can follow.
I’ll walk through life and leave behind
The footprints of my soul
Each step I take a print is left
I’ll strive to reach my goal
For if I tread too lightly
There’s little left to see
It’s just as if I never was
No print is left of me
I’ll try to tread quite bravely
Each step I take, more sure
I’ll leave behind a path of prints
The kind that will endure
The World will see my footprints
And walk the path I made
My prints will last forever
My footprints will not fade
Davonne struggled with all she had been through and yet, she was determined to feel better for her family. She told me she had found a way to move forward, because of a therapy, I had never heard of. She laughed because she said her counsellor was from Poland and at times he didn’t understand her Tennessee accent and she didn’t understand his. But it was helping her. If you are struggling with the aftermath of bad treatment by doctors and surgery after surgery, perhaps it will help you. You can learn more on this link. http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/integrative-therapy.html
We all have been so touched by who Davonne was as a child and friend and I want to include a post written by a close girlfriend, Stacy Spangler who was at her funeral yesterday.
“Tonight, I attended the funeral of someone very special to you guys, someone that fought for, helped, listened to and befriended many of you!! Instead of a eulogy we got to hear testimonies and poems from you strong ladies and what Davonne meant to you. I wanted to take a minute and tell you what she meant to me, our friends, and her community!!
I’ve known Davonne since the third grade, I don’t have many childhood memories that don’t include her. She almost killed several of us on a three-wheeler, she was kind to everyone, she carried dog food in her car to feed stray dogs, she was there for her friends at every major event in our lives, even as a kid when she laughed real hard she’d pee!! We tortured her with it for years!! Lol Sitting at a bonfire and drinking Miller lite was a good time for her. She was Family to me and a few other girls from school.
We were on the phone Sunday planning a girl’s weekend and 4 hours later on got the call. It was standing room only at her funeral tonight, over 1500 people!! She was and will always be loved!! There is no way I can understand what you ladies go through, but because of Davonne, I’m aware and if I can ever do anything for any of y’all, I’ll do it in a heartbeat, it’s what she would have wanted!!”
Davonne didn’t tell her family and friends about what she was going through, for a long time, but this is not unusual. When she did, she wrote on her own personal Facebook page and this is what she said.
8th June 2016.
“For those of you that don’t know my story or why I’ve been away for a while, I would like to share a little bit of it.
I have put it off long enough and I shouldn’t have.
When I read Linda Kilpatrick Mesh angels blog today I knew it was time, I feel the need to share this in hopes to spread awareness about the dangers of Mesh, which can be implanted for hernia’s, pelvic organ prolapses and stress urinary incontinence.
I was implanted with mesh for stress urinary incontinence 5 years ago. 3 months after that surgery my problems started and continued to get worse. Nobody believed me here. In her own area.
Transvaginal Mesh stole so much from me and my family.
Today I am MESH FREE! I am so much better, I don’t think I will ever be like I was before mesh, it hurt me in many ways, but I am better and I will keep on keeping on.
Thank you linda Kilpatrick for helping me and leading me to Dr. Shlomo Raz at UCLA. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t of found you.
and to my other little friend April in NC, Thank you.
I know several people that have mesh and have not had any problems that they know of, I hope and pray that you never ever go through the pain and misery of mesh complications, but I also know several of my friends that have mesh that are having problems, it makes me sad for them.
I had no idea that Mesh was Polypropylene. I didn’t know that a bladder sling was MESH. I did not research, I believed and trusted the doctor that put it in me, I was not aware that the mesh can erode and migrate to other areas in your body, that it can cause severe pain and infections, chronic foreign body reaction. I have developed autoimmune issues since the mesh was placed in me. It severely damaged my other organs, I passed mesh stones and slivers of the mesh, the list of problems is so long. Mesh problems are very complicated.
Getting mesh is like playing Russian Roulette in my opinion. You may do fine or you may not, but if and when it goes wrong it goes horribly wrong. You need a very smart and honest surgeon, one that knows a lot about mesh complications, the doctors (gyn, urologist, urogynecologist) here almost killed me, they made my problems much worse after painful surgeries.
Research and Educate yourself before any procedure.
Even if you trust your doctor, please, don’t trust the mesh. Mesh is not inert and it is not Gold Standard. There has been minimal testing. YOU will be the test.
If you truly need repairs, they can be done with your own tissues. I did not know these things. I felt so alone.
If any of you or someone you know that has any type of mesh and are having problems please reach out to me, I will help you the best I can.
To my family, friends, clients, I’m sorry that I just quit. The pain and infections were killing me, I couldn’t do it anymore, so this was one time I quit. I shut down and hid. I didn’t like quitters, here I had turned into one. I was ashamed. I haven’t forgotten any of you all.
To my family and friends who have stood by me, loved me, and believed me in spite of it all, I Thank You from the bottom of my heart. I love you all so much.
You may wonder about her ‘clients’. Davonne had her own cleaning business and that is how she helped her family living expenses. She dropped out of sight from friends, because she was in so much pain, she could no longer do the work. For many women talking about something so personal is very difficult, but not only that, it is hard to explain to others who have no understand of mesh implants.
Because we are in a mess and a lot of pain, we learn why and once we learn, we don’t want any other woman to deal with the things we have, because of these implants. That is when some of us, become true warriors and fighters in the War on Mesh. That is exactly what Davonne did, once she began to feel a little better, after mesh removal.
The journey of what women go through, can be a life time of pain and suffering, and we learn who our friends and family truly are. They are the ones who don’t give up on you, even when you drop out of sight. They are the people in your life who stand by your side, on the worst of days and try to give you comfort. But what we deal with, not only affects us, it affects our partners and children.
Before I end this update, I had to find a blog link, where you can read something Kaitlin, Davonne’s daughter wrote and I used it on Mother’s Day 2015. It gives insight as to what a grown daughter thinks and feels during her mother’s difficult and painful journey. Remember when you read it, Kailin has spent much of her life, watching her mother live in pain.
Inadvertently, some adult children also become Warriors in the War on Mesh by writing about what their mothers deal with.
Here is the link. http://www.meshangels.com/mothers-day-2015/
You can read Davonne’s obituary here. http://www.atchleyfuneralhome.com/obituary/Davonne-Atkins/Seymour-TN/1730777