There is hope!
I have not posted here since my trip from Texas to UCLA California this past June 5th for my first consultation with Dr. Raz. I have known I should but of course mentally and physically I was exhausted once I returned home. Unfortunately my little dog had stayed in a kennel for four days and he was very sick, so another expense and the worry of getting him back on his feet took more time and energy. Fortunately Beaux is now his old loving little self. Of course he will not be going back to that kennel in Houston and I have already found another out here in the area I live that belongs to Beaux’s vet. So that hurdle was jumped and conquered. Once that was over, I was faced with paperwork that I had to do which took me back to the time this mesh sling was placed into my body. To do it I went into a world of financial costs and the deep mental pain and anguish that this implant has caused me over the past two and a half years. The paperwork was unavoidable and a complete mental and physical struggle to complete but that too was accomplished. Then it was time for me to work on getting my mind back into the world of the living, therefore I avoided writing this blog.
Please understand I am completely aware that women out there are relying on the information I provide, but also understand that I am like you. I am racked with the physical and emotional pain from a mesh implant. My blog reaches many, many women who need understanding, help and answers. Sometimes all they need is someone to believe that their symptoms are the cause of their physical breakdown. I do believe you. I do know the hell that this product has caused in your life. I have listened and read thousands of stories, so bad that you would believe I made them up because how could they be true? How could this wonderful country allow the mutilation of women’s bodies of a product that no testing was done except on us. If you think about it, how can they test mesh bladder slings? You cannot put a sling into a rat now can you? So we are their guinea pigs. We are the women of the world who are left to suffer and be ignored. So when you read this blog, understand that mine and almost all the other mesh blogs are written by women victims of bladder sling mesh. If they or I do not answer you immediately either by email or phone call, understand it is because we too are suffering just like you and have good and bad days.
Now to my consultation visit with Dr Raz.
If you are like me and have to make a decision to travel to see this doctor at UCLA, you will have a few hurdles to jump first. First there is the financial side of doing this whether or not you have insurance or Medicare like me. I just became eligible this past June 1supst/sup which is why I used my acquired knowledge by women who have gone through this ordeal and chose to go to Dr Raz. To fly and cover the other expenses I sold my older car to make it happen. Not a lot of money but a way for me to make the first two trips. I could no longer drive and although it was paid for, it still cost tax and insurance and sat in my driveway getting older. So it had to go. I am telling you there because I was raised in hard times and my mother would constantly say “Where there is a will, there is a way”, so first you must find your will and then find a way to get help.
I have flown many, many times of the past forty plus years and completely understand there are always added cash expenses than you planned. None of my former flights compared to flying as someone who is no handicapped. That is a hard word to say or write, because before this sling surgery, I was healthy and enjoying life. But to face it is the only way you can make this trip without avoiding so much pain and discomfort. My complications are many but they have changed me because I can no longer walk very far and I am always in pain. Yours may be pelvic related and if so, please request wheelchair assistance because there is a huge amount of walking to do in airports. If you have any complications you have to admit to yourself that you need help and do it. This is not a time for vanity.
Once I made the flight reservations, I tried to book wheelchair assistance on line. It proved difficult, so I dialed the Airline 800 number and did it over the phone. The lady assured me that every step of the way there and back on my trip, this would be taken care of. It was. So once we arrived at the Houston airport I told a porter outside the airport door that I needed this assistance and he asked me was I able to walk inside the door and sit and wait? I was so he showed me where to sit while he got on his radio to call for my wheelchair. If you cannot walk at all, they will bring it to your car or other method of transportation. When you see someone coming with a wheelchair, raise your hand to flag them down.
Travel light. I took a small carryon suitcase so that I would not have to wait for baggage claim. Everything you do to help yourself is important. Once in the chair I was wheeled through past the other passengers waiting for security clearance and the wheelchair attendant helped me through the process. Like I said, if you have pelvic pain do not try this alone. Give in and ask for help. The attendant wheeled me to the gate I was flying out of and made sure I was settled close to the front where the airline people would see me, then I handed him his tip and he left with the chair. If you cannot walk at all he will stay with you and help you get on board.
Tips. This is always a difficult subject and rarely addressed and the Airline does not tell you that wheelchair assistant attendants rely on tips for wages. So as there is no guide line to how much the tip should be. Because I could help myself a small amount, I allowed $5 each time an attendant helped me. I planned on 6 times in all because of flight connections once each way, so I put six $5 bills in my purse on hand for tipping.
Taxi’s, Shuttles, LAX Airport and UCLA.
I was so very fortunate to be met at the other end by a lovely lady who has helped both me and many other women around this country because she had her sling removed by Dr. Raz. We had spent a year talking over the phone, discussing the best way to help women and we became lifelong friends. Once down on the ground at LAX, the wheelchair attendant asked me which direction to go and my daughter took directions over her cell phone of where to meet this lady, so he pushed me there where she was waiting with her car. Had she not been there I would have taken a taxi to my hotel at UCLA. I tipped my attendant just as I was getting out of the car. If you can climb up into a shuttle it is the cheapest way to go. However, if you are like me and cannot climb up steps or are in so much pain when you bend, take a taxi. You cannot skimp when it comes to adding more pain on yourself. After my consultation appointment, when we left the hotel to return home, we took a taxi back to the airport and to help you I asked how much a shuttle each way cost. It was $16.00 per person each way, so it would have cost my daughter and me $32.00. The taxi cost $46.50 so with tip I paid $50.00. So allow $100.00 for this expense. You can also rent a car but I am afraid you will have to call and ask questions because I do not have that information.
When you book your consultation with Dr. Raz, they will mail you a packet to your home. Part of it will be medical forms you fill out and hand to his assistant doctor once you are in the examining room. The other part will be a list of hotels with phone numbers. You can look them up on line and call and ask questions. Most of these hotels are in close proximity to Dr Raz office and if you are healthy enough, you can walk. If not they do have shuttle service or you can take a taxi. I stayed at the Tiverton House Hotel which is very near his office. They have a great do it yourself breakfast so you do not need to worry about food before your appointment.
What else you can do to help your appointment run smooth.
First and foremost, if you have a copy of your hospital Operative report, take it with you. They will so appreciate you did this because they will not have to order it and wait to see it. Save handing it over until you are in the consulting room. Second. Take the time to do a quick list sheet to help Dr. Raz understand your case. I do not mean a long letter with all your symptoms. State date the implant was placed inside you. Type and make of sling. Any surgeries you had after this date. Include those operative reports if you have them. Any prescription drugs you take. I do not take any, but I listed the drugs I have had allergic reactions too. This will be a quick view list that will help Dr. Raz understand how he can help you.
Last but least.
Please do not worry what his assistant training doctor states/says to you. He/she will examine you first and ask you questions about your mesh. My friend had warned me not to worry about what she asked because Dr. Raz will define everything. He is the one with the knowledge and he knows what is wrong with you. His assistant will take cues from him. I forgot to inform my daughter of this fact and when the assistant doctor mentioned something that was nothing to do with mesh and asked if I had back problems before, I stated no and did not worry. My daughter was upset because she knew it was the mesh and nothing else, so my friend calmed her down about it.
I have seen photos of him and the women I have spoken to that he has helped, adore him, so meeting this man was an honor. I was surprised when I noticed he was a small man and quite unassuming. You would think he has an ego as big as the moon but if he does, he definitely does not act that way. It was amazing to be asked informative questions by him and not be made to feel belittled, or telling lies and was stupid. That was a breath of fresh air. He knew it was the mesh and I did not have to prove it to him. Thank God! After his examination and a test to see if what he suspected was correct, he hugged me (He is a hugger) and told me we would set up a date for surgery. He walked me through to the office of a lady who does this and I waited patiently for her to look dates up and put me in the system. When I go back I will have tests to see how the mesh has attached itself to my organs, nerves and muscles and the surgery the following day. October 11th and 12th. Yes, it is a long wait. But wait I will to give myself the best chance at survival and a new life.
Understanding this is important. Dr. Raz does not promise he can fix you the way you were before you sling surgery. He will tell you he believes he can help you and give you a better life. This is because we are all internally broken. Do not be angry when your recovery after removal surgery takes so long and you are in pain. Rest and take the time your body needs to heal from this surgery and go with the flow. Deal with anything else later.
The following blog will give you all the details about Dr. Raz, tests you need and questions to ask along with so much more.
I hope this blog has helped you understand Dr. Raz and the next step of your journey to a better life.
With love, support and hope. Linda