An interview with Ann Becker Schutte, Ph.D Last year, for the first time, I attended Stanford...READ MORE
Why I Don’t Ask “Why?” Anymore
by Aaron Leigh Horton/The Mesh Warrior
In March of 2011, I set out in earnest, with my mother to walk through the landmine that is transvaginal mesh. It’s now been well over three and a half years since that time and very close to five years since she was implanted with transvaginal mesh.
The question I began with was simply, “Why?” but with a thousand iterations.
WHY would a skilled, fellowshipped, female urogynecologist ever entertain the notion of inserting a permanent polypropylene implant, through a non-sterile field (the vaginal canal), with absolutely no thought put towards an exit strategy in the event of possible complications or the eventual need for removal?
WHY would this same surgeon not ADMIT her inadequacies, ignorance, fault, failures, fear or possible regret when my medically-educated mother called her, repeatedly, in the agony of severe, chronic, intractable pain, saying “Something is WRONG.”
WHY would any well-educated, skilled scientist, inventor, doctor or businessman dream-up and then create a PERMANENT medical device for mothers and grandmothers, training 1000s of surgeons to insert this device, some via DVD presentation only, and not train EVEN ONE surgeon to remove the device?
WHY not create an EXIT STRATEGY or a strategy for the safe removal of the device, upon the possibility of even one complication in one person?
WHY is it that not even one patient, destined for future harm with this disastrous device, is not important enough or worth Tier 1 Ethics testing of the device?
WHY were there so many, presumably educated and skilled surgeons, who did not question the common sense dangers of this device when reps came knocking on their office doors with the promise of 4-6 billable, EFFICIENT surgeries per day instead of just one surgery that is EFFECTIVE, tried-and-true, and organic? (like the Burch Procedure)?
WHY my mother? WHY us, our family?
WHY now, when everything is looking up for our family?
WHY were the FORESEEABLE disastrous realities of polypropylene mesh injury OVERLOOKED by skilled and trained scientists, physicians, government officials, sales and business people, CEOs, and all their assistants along the way?
There are a thousand other WHYs I could ask, but I don’t anymore, simply because the answer is exactly the same for every “Why” question.
After walking the journey with my own mother, sitting in on court hearings, developing unbreakable bonds with many injured patients, pursuing understanding with physicians and surgeons, attending medical and patient advocacy conferences, speaking out to the media, making desperate appeals to the politicians who represent my district and the State of Texas, the answer to every “Why?” is this:
Because each person in a position of authority relative to the patient CHOSE through the clouded lens of personal gain NOT TO STOP AND THINK about the obvious, catastrophic outcomes of such a device, outcomes and ideas easily accessible by the application of COMMON SENSE.
Further, these employees did not make attempts, commensurate with their authority, to stop the fast-moving train of “business as usual” and EVALUATE using CRITICAL THINKING skills, what their contribution would be to the well-being or total ruin of lives – the life of a grandmother in Texas, for example, who also happens to be my mother.
AND hundreds of thousands, maybe millions more men and women – patriarchs and matriarchs – who hold our American families; our culture and values; our very way of life together, like a sort-of invisible and timeless glue.
So, the question I now ask is “HOW MANY?”
HOW many hundreds of thousands of Christmas and Easter celebrations will now not be possible?
HOW many recipes won’t be handed down?
HOW many family stories won’t be passed along and HOW many memories won’t be made?
HOW many children will grow up never knowing a healthy grandmother?
HOW many family Thanksgiving traditions will cease to be?
HOW many bedtime stories will not be read?
HOW many in a generation of little hands and hearts will not be held by Grandma who wipes tears and makes cookies?
HOW many young adults won’t hear the hard truths of life from the loving voice of Grandfather.
And I ask HOW can I/we be different, now that we all know what we know?
HOW can we best render aid to parents who gave of themselves to give the next generation a life of hope, privilege, education or whatever describes your family’s version of “better than we had it?”
HOW can we HONOR our mothers and fathers, who have been forgotten by the people who have the more intimate answers to my “WHY?” questions?
HOW can we, those grown children and other family members, CHOOSE DIFFERENTLY?
HOW can we will into existence an America full of individuals in positions of authority who possess a morally-sound sense of self leadership and a heart to help others?
HOW can we REWARD companies that help society and PUNISH companies that choose to DESTROY it for financial gain?
HOW do we further the concept of “voting” with your DOLLAR, not just your voice.
HOW do we REDEFINE “business as usual” in our respective positions of authority?
HOW do we, as patient-customers, get the attention of those physicians and surgeons who feel superior to us because of the letters after their names, but yet, have lost sight of the easily-earned C.S. Degree (Common Sense) implied to be following M.D.?
HOW do we DEMAND that our medical culture not fall back into the barbarism of centuries past by knowingly using patients, without their educated consent, to act out their experimentation?
If we do not STOP to THINK using the easily-accessible form of knowledge called COMMON SENSE, and stand up to the actual persons who carried out business-as-usual with regard to mesh manufacture, sale and implant, we can make NO CLAIM that we are better or any different.
I can’t even count how many times over the course of my life that someone in a position of authority or perceived authority has said to me some version of, “Aaron, you think too much or you’re thinking too hard about this.” I would feel shamed after said figure of authority said this to me, but I now see it for what it is – a protection of their own paradigm or world view – in other words, simple fear.
I now feel no shame when asked this question, and my response is well-rehearsed: “I am not ‘thinking too hard;’ rather you should think harder.”
Maybe our society would be different if too many people thought just a little too hard. Do not be afraid to halt “business-as-usual” within your realm of influence. Our individual choices each day really do add up over time to create good or cause harm. We can reclaim our family’s story from the “unthinking authority,” the manufacturers of the Trojan Horse called “business-as-usual” those individuals in authority STILL carrying on, FULLY AWARE of the consequences of their daily choice to sell an egregiously harmful, lethal product.
THINK TOO HARD. USE YOUR VOICE.
THE FDA WEBSITE FOR CONSUMERS TO REPORT COMPLAINTS AND ADVERSE EVENTS (Medical Harm):
WEBSITE EXPLAINING THE FDA’s “Pre-market Clearance” (A.K.A. “The 510k Process”):
FDA CONSUMER SERVICE NUMBER: 1.800.638.2041
FDA CONSUMER EMAIL: DICE@fda.hhs.gov