Biker’s despair after botched vagina op destroyed her sex life and marriage – and left her jobless and disabled
LIZZY Ford, 54, from Innerleithen, Scotland, had a routine operation in June 2010 to cure stress incontinence, where a mesh sling was inserted to lift her bladder and stop it leaking.
Lizzy Ford, 54, from Innerleithen, Scotland, was forced to swap her beloved motorcycle for a mobility scooter just weeks after the disaster operation that she says ruined her life.
Lizzy Ford told how a routine operation to cure her stress incontinence ‘ruined her life’
The mum-of-one had suffered from stress incontinence when she coughed and laughed since giving birth to her daughter, Rachel, in 1989.
Her GP had suggested having a mesh sling called a transvaginal tape (TVT) inserted to lift the prolapsed bladder and stop it leaking.
She went through with the op in June 2010, but afterwards was left in agony.
Doctors refused to link the throbbing pain between her legs with the TVT surgery.
In 2014, after begging her consultant to remove it, she was told the operation was classed as permanent because of the way the mesh knits into the vaginal tissue.
Lizzy was a keen biker, but three months after the op she was forced into needing a mobility scooter to get around .
She is now part of Scottish Mesh Survivors and Sling the Mesh, campaign groups aiming to raise awareness and connect victims of the surgery, which has already been suspended in Scotland but is still offered to women in England.
She said: “I went from being an active biker to being reliant on a mobility scooter.
“Nobody told me about the risks of the mesh – that it can erode into your body causing agony and pain and that because it’s permanent it’s very difficult to reverse.”
Lizzy recalled how the 20-minute operation sounded like a quick and easy fix to her stress continence and she went through with it, supported by her second husband Bob, whom she married in 2008.
But afterwards, every step she took left her in agony.
When she tried to ride her 500cc Kawasaki, it send red hot pains searing through her groin and leg.
Her sex life disappeared and she was forced to give up her job at a supermarket.
Lizy said the 20-minute ‘quick fix’ operation left her in agony
But doctors were baffled and insisted the mesh was not to blame, despite the fact it had also failed to cure her stress incontinence.
Lizzy tried attending her beloved biker events on her scooter, but said it was humiliating and a painful reminder of what she had lost since the surgery.
As a result of their dwindling sex life, she told how she and her husband began to grow apart and eventually decided to separate.
Lizzy began doing some research and was shocked to discover that thousands of women were taking legal action after the plastic mesh used to lift the bladder caused horrifying complications – like the ones she was suffering.
People with stress incontinence leak small amounts of urine, sometimes when coughing, laughing, sneezing or doing exercise.
For women, tape procedures may be recommended to stop the problem by providing support to a sagging urethra.
In TVT surgery, a mesh tape is placed under your urethra like a sling or hammock to keep it in its normal position.
The tape is inserted through tiny incisions in your abdomen and vaginal wall, with the procedure normally taking around 30 minutes.
Around 13,500 women have the operation annually on the NHS and it’s the most common way to treat stress incontinence.
However, there has been an increase in the women coming forward with post-op problems.
The surgery was suspended in Scotland two years ago, where around 400 lawsuits are ongoing.
The mesh is also used in hernia operations, so men are also at risk from feeling the adverse affects.
Finally, still in chronic pain, her consultant agreed to remove the mesh – but warned her of a low success rate because the operation is permanent; something Lizzy said she was not told.
“They told me it would be like getting chewing gum out of hair because the mesh embeds into the tissue,” she explained.
The mesh was eventually removed this February, and Lizzy said she “felt better straight away”.
“The relief to know it was out was incredible,” she admitted.
Lizzy begged her consultant to let her have the mesh removed but was told the operation was permanent
Eventually a specialist surgeon removed the mesh in February this year
“To go from motorbike to disability scooter in months was soul destroying. I wish with all my heart I had never had the operation.
“They said it would change my life and it did, but not in the way I had hoped. It ruined it.
“It’s too early to know if I’ll ever be able to swap my mobility scooter for a motorbike again.
“But hopefully I can stop other women from being injured.”