The mesh implant has had a devastating impact on so many women’s lives

The incredibly cruel mother and baby homes, the Magdalene laundries, the thalidomide and the symphysiotomy scandals, CervicalCheck… and now the vaginal mesh implant (inserted after childbirth) is being added to the litany of healthcare cock-ups affecting women across this country.

Before I go on, for those who’ve never had to experience the pain associated with stretching a delicate and sensitive part of their anatomy to its eye-watering limits (i.e. men), let me explain what this vaginal mesh implant is, and why many women have opted to avail of it.

Thought to be revolutionary when it was first introduced at the end of the 1990s as a treatment for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence (common side-effects following childbirth) this device, which is manufactured from ‘non-absorbable material’, is surgically inserted into the woman’s body, where it remains thereon.

According to the HSE, it’s “extremely difficult” for them to provide statistics regarding the amount of Irish women who’ve innocently opted to have this so-called flexible scaffold inserted into the walls of their vaginas, offering what I’d call the evasive response that they ‘estimate’ it to be ‘around 10,000’. What a cop-out! Why isn’t there accurate data available relating to a device so harrowing that it’s now being dubbed ‘the cheese wire’ due to its capacity to horrifically ‘cut into internal organs’? Perhaps the pen-pushers at our health service are all too busy this week responding to the TDs and senators who made ‘7,300 representations to the HSE last year, with the vast majority relating to the healthcare of individual constituents’.

For the sake of balance, I must point out that while the majority of women have reported a positive experience with this device, the fact remains that ‘more than one in ten’ are suffering horrifically painful complications as a result of it. Issues such as chronic pain, chronic inflammation, neuropathic pain in their legs and back, damage to internal organs, nerve damage with many being left unable to walk without the aid of a stick, pain during sexual activity, incontinence, bleeding and depression, to list but a few. All of the above are alleged to have been caused by the mesh implants shrinking, twisting, eroding into organs or protruding into the vaginas of these long-suffering women.

I don’t mind telling you readers that when I heard this topic being discussed on Ireland AM last week, I became very upset for these poor women, and thought to myself, there but for the grace of God go I. Giving birth to my first daughter stretched my own pelvic floor muscles the length and breadth of the labour ward, leading me to tell her father that any subsequent kids joining our family would be adopted!

However, I relented. So, eleven years later when daughter number two – who weighed three times more than her older sister, leading me to believe I was giving birth to triplets – was making her arrival into this world, the sensible option for me (a small woman) would’ve been to demand a C section. If I’d known then what I know now (that following her birth I’d be leaking pee when I coughed, sneezed, laughed, lifted or exercised), I’d have point-blank refused to push her out! Thankfully however, a series of exercises designed to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles soon had me sorted.

While it must be said that while pregnancy and childbirth are a different experience for every woman, the aftermath and the symptoms relating to pelvic and muscle weakness are likely to be the same. To that end, had a doctor offered me a so-called revolutionary ‘sling’ or ‘ribbon’ to treat my then stress incontinence, assuring me that ’10,000 Irish women’ along with ‘millions of women worldwide’ had opted to have this device inserted, I’d probably have jumped at it and viewed it as a ‘no-brainer’ option.

Mind you, if they’d disclosed the risks, adding we don’t have the ‘special skillset’ required in this country to remove your ‘permanent’ device should it go wrong, I’d have said forget it! I’d imagine so would every woman injured by this vaginal mesh who’re now alleging they weren’t made aware of the dangers involved – and I believe them.

It has been reported that many of these women are now borrowing money to travel abroad for removal and to seek treatment to undo the harm allegedly inflicted upon them by a HSE which appears to have spectacularly let them down. To add insult to these women’s physical and emotional injuries, that same, sickeningly apathetic HSE’s website actually describes their traumas as being ‘complications’, which is, in my opinion, akin to calling genocidal maniac Oliver Cromwell a bit of a pest, or Vladimir Putin a cheeky rogue!


Please stop walking your dogs in hot weather

The entire country has been basking in record temperatures all week, with Roscommon being hailed as one of the hottest counties across Ireland! Lovely jubbly!

However, while you’re all sweating over the barbie, basking in the midday sun, downing that cool, refreshing G&T, and slathering the kids in sun-block, can I ask those pet parents among you to please, please take a moment to remember your four-legged fur babies!

I am absolutely gobsmacked at the amount of people out walking their dogs during the hottest part of the day, which is between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm. Please stop it! Dogs cannot tolerate extreme temperatures, meaning the hot weather we’ve been having poses a real threat to their health, safety and wellbeing. In fact, the situation has become so bad, I’ve been leaving a large bowl of cool water outside my gate so that those who insist on walking their dogs in this heatwave can stop and allow their exhausted and overheated babies to take a drink!

While I’m on a rant, can I also remind pet parents to never ever leave their dog/cat in a car, even with the windows open. Do you know that leaving any animal in a hot car, even for just a few minutes, can cost them their lives, not to mention potentially cost you a fine for negligence and animal cruelty?

Temperatures don’t have to be in the 90s for a car-bound dog/cat to be in serious trouble. Even at much lower temperatures, even under a cloudless sky, the humidity inside your car will turn it into a sauna for them. Still not convinced? For those having difficulty grasping these facts, let me share what, in my days lecturing at UCD, I would call my ‘idiot-proof’ example: research has shown that if it’s a sunny 78 degrees, the temperature in a car, with the windows open, rises at least 32 degrees in thirty minutes. In short, 78 to 110 in half an hour! Temperatures in air-conditioned cars can reach the same temperature as it is outside of the car within five minutes of the device being turned off. This means that on a hot day, it takes only a matter of minutes for your dog or cat to end up organ-damaged or dead! Got it? Great! Now please take heed of it. Thanks a thousand.


J-Lo’s had the betas, now she’s enjoying the alpha!

I’d like to congratulate serial wife Jennifer Lopez (she’s been married three times before… husband number one was Ojani Noa, number two was Cris Judd and number three was Marc Anthony, with whom she shares 14-year-old twins) on her recent nuptials to old flame and former fiancé Ben Affleck. You could say the singer-turned-actor (who has been engaged more times than a ladies loo), having had the betas, is now in her second act enjoying the alpha – and fair play to her, she’s clearly a lady who knows what she wants.

Indeed, while I’m a firm believer in never, ever hooking up again with your ex (mainly because there’s a reason you left him/her in the first place), I do hope it works out for Jenny-from-the-block. Hopefully this time, twenty years after their first engagement, the high profile couple finally carpes the hell out of that diem!