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Coping with chronic pain

In 2006, Linda Gross underwent a “minimally invasive” surgical procedure to implant mesh called PROLIFT® into her pelvic area — a device manufactured by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

In this web exclusive, Linda Gross speaks to Need to Know medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay about how she deals with her chronic pain, compounded by feelings of anxiety, frustration and isolation.

The mesh — which has since been pulled off the market by the manufacturer — was implanted to treat Linda’s original diagnosis of pelvic organ prolapse, a condition impacting hundreds of thousands of women. Following the procedure, Linda suffered complications when her body rejected the mesh.

“I was being told by my physician that you cannot remove all of the mesh,” she said. “The wings are in such an area that’s high risk — for bleeding, for [becoming] incontinent… or death because of the main arteries that are in there. That scared me because I was not given that information prior to my surgery.”

Due to the location of the device, doctors have been unable to remove the mesh in its entirety, so pieces of it remain inside Linda — causing her intense, lasting pain.

“The only way today that I can stay ahead of my pain is to lay in bed and rotate my left leg outward to take the tension off the pelvic floor muscles,” she said. “My muscles continue to twitch constantly. I have done many treatments to try and break the cycle of the pain.”

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