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Half Of The Women With Mesh Implant Complications Lose Their Partners, A Senate Inquiry Hears

Half of the women who experienced adverse physical and psychological side effects after receiving a vaginal mesh implant have also suffered from a relationship breakdown after the procedure, a Senate inquiry into transvaginal meshes has heard.

Urogynaecological meshes, sometimes known as transvaginal meshes, are inserted into women as a treatment option for pelvic organ prolapse (when the connective tissue securing the vagina and uterus to the pelvis gives way after childbirth), or urinary incontinence.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

The inquiry, which reports in November, was set up to find out exactly how many women have had transvaginal mesh implants and, of those, how many experienced adverse side effects.

Victorian senator Derryn Hinch, who spearheaded the inquiry, said the evidence he had heard suggested that “30% of partnerships break up because of [complications after a mesh implant is inserted].”

“Is that right?” Hinch asked doctors testifying at the inquiry’s third public hearing in Sydney on Monday.

“I’d say 50%,” professor Thierry Vancaillie, who runs the Women’s Health and Research Institute of Australia (WHRIA) in Sydney, told the hearing.

Vancaillie, who is also a gynaecology professor at the University of NSW, said so far this year he had seen 54 new patients with nerve pain after mesh surgery.

Since mid-August, he has seen six new patients with these issues every week.

“Nerve pain is horrible,” he told the hearing. “It burns, it stings, it feels like a ball stuck in the rectum.

“Since 2007 we have been seeing patients suffering chronic pain after mesh surgery with increasing frequency.”

Vancaillie called on manufacturers to “voluntarily withdraw some of their products” and urged Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration to adopt an ongoing surveillance system to monitor complications after transvaginal mesh surgery.

Dr Liz Howard of the WHRIA said 72% of patients in the institute’s pelvic pain impact questionnaire said the pain had impacted the level of intimacy or sexual relations.

Hinch told the hearing that one patient had approached him with a handful of steel wool and said: “This is what my husband feels every time we try to have sex”.

Many of the women testifying on Monday could not sit still for more than 15 minutes at a time, so leaned against the walls or paced along the back of the room in New South Wales parliament.

Senator Derryn Hinch.

Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Queensland associate professor of urogynaecology Christopher Maher has estimated more than 200,000 mesh implant surgeries have been performed in Australia to date.

More than 100 women have written to the inquiry.

Patients who suffered ongoing complications after their surgery, including relationship breakdowns, testified at Monday’s hearing.

One woman, identified only as Madeleine, testified via phone at the hearing about how her “vagina felt like it was full of barbed wire and shards of glass” after her implant was inserted.

“It left me with the inability to share intercourse,” Madeleine, who had three operations to remove the mesh, told the hearing.

Another woman flew from regional New South Wales to describe how a “piece of plastic” had ruined her emotional and sexual life, changing her from a “passionate primary school teacher” into a “victim”.

“I’ve had frequent catheters, groin pain, frequent [urinary tract infections], pain during sex with the inability to orgasm, problems with urethra and bladder function, I can no longer run or cycle,” she said.

“I feel sexually inadequate and have pushed away friends due to my lack of self-worth.”

Gai Thompson received a mesh implant nine years ago and told the hearing she was “never warned about how catastrophic the complications would be”.

“I wasn’t warned of the shame, isolation, mental anguish and financial burden this surgery would cause, and that it would consume every aspect of my life,” Thompson said.

She said when she complained to her doctor about her inability to have sex with her husband because of the pain, he said: “There are many ways to skin a cat”.

This echoed previous testimonies from women who couldn’t have vaginal sex due to ongoing sexual dysfunction from urogynaecological mesh, who told the hearing their GPs’ advice was to have anal sex instead.

Thompson is one of more than 700 Australian women currently in court fighting Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, in a class action which claims vaginal medical devices left women “suffering painful and life-altering complications”.

An estimated 100,000 Australian women have been implanted with Johnson & Johnson mesh devices since 2000.

The lawyers representing the women have said there could be upwards of 8,000 Australians who have been implanted with one of the nine devices.

Johnson & Johnson said the company’s pelvic mesh products had been developed in “close consultation with specialist surgeons” and were “backed by years of clinical research”.

In its submission to the Senate inquiry, the company said the use of implantable mesh was supported by clinical research and was often the preferred option to treat pelvic conditions, including incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

The final public hearing for the inquiry is in Canberra on Tuesday.

If you need to talk to someone, you can call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue Australia on 1300 22 4636; Anxiety UK on 08444 775 774; or Hopeline America on 1-800-784-2433.

These Adults Have ADHD But Were Misdiagnosed For Decades

A noisy pub is not the ideal place to try out a new medication. But the first time Sonja (who spoke on condition we only use her first name) took a pill to treat her newly diagnosed ADHD, the pub was the perfect location. With the background music and conversation at the next table in full flow, she tried to read a book. The noises around her might have been minor frustrations at most for anyone else, but for Sonja they would normally mean she was completely unable to focus.

She couldn’t read books at all before let alone in a pub. I would go through two pages and not have any idea what I read, I’d be thinking of something entirely different.

Her meds passed with flying colours. I could actually focus on multiple things at the same time, she says. I could hear the music, I could hear some women talking at the next table, and I would still be able to read what I was reading. I was really alert.

Taking the pill was life-changing. Sonja had always had trouble concentrating, and often felt like she was in her own world. She would constantly switch from one task to another. I didn’t really know what was going on with me, but when I was young I just figured out that it was a part of my personality, she says of the symptoms she now knows to be attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

But ADHD wasn’t what doctors initially thought Sonja had. Before being diagnosed with the condition, Sonja spent almost a decade going to medical professionals. Since 2008 she’d been given other diagnoses, including bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, with the corresponding antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, and therapy, but none of it worked. Worse than that some of the medication made her feel like she was “in a coma, and made her suicidal thoughts worse.

ADHD is a neurological disorder that can make people inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive. But symptoms can also include insomnia, emotional instability, a wandering mind, getting side-tracked easily, and feeling restless. It’s thought that ADHD affects around 3% of the adult population, and research suggests the rate of undiagnosed ADHD is 10% or more in patients attending mental health services.

Gareth Gregan

iamharvey for BuzzFeed

The trouble for many adults with undiagnosed ADHD is that it can look like a lot of other mental health conditions, especially when it’s severe. What we’re discovering is that with many patients, before ADHD is recognised, they have already been given a range of other diagnoses and they’re not always appropriate or correct, says Philip Asherson, a professor of molecular psychiatry at King’s College London. Some of the most common ones are personality disorder [and] bipolar disorder, and the other common ones are anxiety and depression.

Sonja is not alone. Three other people BuzzFeed News interviewed said they struggled, two for decades, with mental health issues they believe stem from untreated ADHD that doctors didn’t spot. They talked of failed exams, piles of unopened letters, broken relationships, and lost jobs that they believe are down to ADHD that they weren’t given the right help for. They all have in common several other mental health diagnoses and a string of medications that at best just didn’t work, and at worst could have been dangerous.

The people we spoke to all adults are a relatively new kind of case for the medical establishment. Adult ADHD was only recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, or NICE, in 2008. It’s not so much the difficulty in making the diagnosis, it’s that adult mental health is still relatively new to this condition, so often the expertise and the knowledge is relatively lacking, says Asherson, who is also president of the UK Adult ADHD Network, which aims to help mental health professionals who work with adults with ADHD. I think that’s a big problem.

Last week NICE published a draft update to its guidelines that urged doctors to be mindful of people who could have ADHD but often get overlooked. It particularly mentioned women and girls who may not display classic symptoms and people with other mental health conditions.

Some people do have those conditions in addition to their unrecognised ADHD. But for others, the ADHD just looks like something else.

iamharvey for BuzzFeed

iamharvey for BuzzFeed

Gareth Gregan, a recent graduate of Trinity College Dublin who now lives in London, says his previous diagnoses of anxiety and depression were like a jumper that didn’t fit.

Gregan got through school just fine, but when he reached uni, things started to fall apart. He failed two consecutive years, where previously he’d been getting top grades. I’d sit exams in May, fail them, resit them in August, and fail them again. It was like this cyclical process that wasn’t actually going anywhere.

He soon got diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was going down a very destructive route. I was getting very depressed because I didn’t know what was wrong with me, and I wasn’t able to put any structure or organisation into my life. I couldn’t imagine [what would have happened] if I’d continued down that road for another 25 years.

The medications he was put on to help the anxiety and depression did make a difference, he says. They stop the bleed, but without ever addressing the underlying cause of it themselves. They were a beneficial short-term solution to get me out of a slump. But I didn’t actually need to stay on them at all once I got diagnosed with ADHD.

I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t got that diagnosis. God knows where I’d be.

To get the diagnosis Gregan saw a psychiatrist, who referred him to a psychologist. The psychologist gave him tasks like organising blocks, or circling places on a map, that he had to complete both with and without a beeping noise in the background. With the beep, he fell apart. I’d just throw all the blocks up in the air and be like, ‘I can’t concentrate on that,’ because the bleep noise was such a distraction, he says.

When it finally came, his diagnosis felt like turning on a light switch, he says. He had some exam resits in May 2016, shortly after starting treatment for ADHD, and they went well. I had the experience of coming out of exams after actually having been able to study for them like a normal student.

Gregan thinks his anxiety and depression were symptoms of his untreated ADHD. Now he’s on Ritalin, and it’s working. It gives me the ability to focus on a particular task, he says. Instead of being like, ‘I have 20 things to do and I’m going to try and do them all at once,’ it’s like, ‘No. I’m going to sit down and send this email, then I’m going to do this lecture, and I’ll do this homework afterwards.’

He thinks adults with ADHD fall through the cracks because people assume if you have the condition you’ll get diagnosed with it as a child, or that you’ll grow out of it anyway. He also thinks some people don’t view ADHD as a real thing. The public discussion around ADHD “did dissuade me from looking for a diagnosis,” he says, “because I thought, Oh, that’s not much of a real thing.

With his diagnosis and new meds, Gregan managed to finish his degree and get an internship in London. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t got that diagnosis, he says. God knows where I’d be.

Getting the wrong diagnosis and treatment for it can be frustrating. It can also be dangerous. The risks of a drug are normally outweighed by the benefits, says Asherson, “but if there aren’t any benefits then it becomes all risk. They might get put on antipsychotics to calm them down, and have a lot of side effects.”

Even putting a lot of time into something like cognitive behavioural therapy that’s not working for someone can have a negative effect. People don’t talk much about risks, but spending a lot of time and effort in something that really isn’t going anywhere might be quite difficult for somebody, he says.

“The risks of a drug are normally outweighed by the benefits, but if there aren’t benefits it becomes all risk.”

It’s not unusual for people with ADHD to develop low self-esteem. Because they’re just constantly struggling and finding things difficult and then they start to feel quite bad about themselves, says Asherson.

Last year Asherson published a paper in the journal Lancet Psychiatry arguing that a failure to recognise and a lack of resources needed treat adult ADHD is hurting people who seek help for mental health problems. Treatment of adult ADHD in Europe and many other regions of the world is not yet common practice, and diagnostic services are often unavailable or restricted to a few specialist centres, he and his coauthors wrote. This situation is remarkable given the strong evidence base for safe and effective treatments.

The stereotypical image of a boisterous kid acting up in class doesn’t carry over to adults who have ADHD. A lot of the symptoms in adults are ones you see in other conditions: They can’t concentrate well, they don’t sleep very well, and so all of that is part of anxiety and depression; they maybe have difficult social interactions, which makes you think about personality disorder; and their moods tend to swing around a lot, and that makes people think of bipolar, Asherson says.

And there are other symptoms too, he says, that people might not immediately link to ADHD, like emotional instability. Specialists know this, he says, but it’s not part of the clinical criteria for the condition. That means that while someone well-versed in spotting and diagnosing adult ADHD might recognise that someone who’s emotionally unstable could have the condition, GPs and other health professionals who are less familiar with ADHD are not likely to make the link, and will probably assume emotional instability is a symptom of something else such as borderline personality disorder.

One of Asherson’s projects looked at patients who were diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. What we’re finding is that around a third to a half meet ADHD criteria, so that’s a huge proportion, he says. For some of those patients, he says, ADHD will be the main problem, and treating it will be a huge help, like it was for Sonja.

But that won’t be the case for everybody. Even after treating possible ADHD symptoms, some people don’t get better. We also know that you treat some people like that and they don’t get better, and it turns out that there are probably a range of problems, says Asherson. And ADHD doesn’t always respond to treatment.

Jeff Gawthorpe

iamharvey for BuzzFeed

Years without a diagnosis can make life agonising. When Sonja moved to London from her native Finland in 2006, she started noticing more severe problems and couldn’t keep hold of a job. I was working in a clothing store, that’s the last job I’ve had for a very long time, she says. When I was made to stand and be quiet, watching to make sure people didn’t steal stuff for two hours, it was like torture to me, I just couldn’t do it. I was coming up with excuses like ‘I have to go to the toilet,’ ‘I have to go do this.’ I just had to move, I couldn’t stand there. Then she started getting more anxious and having problems with food. I couldn’t breathe, and I started eating stuff like five burgers or five packs of cookies, then I would throw up all the food I was eating on my break. I was doing that to have a release from what I was feeling.

Eventually she was sacked, and later that year her father died. She went to see her GP and told them she was really worried about how she was doing. They referred her to a specialist, and that’s how, in 2008, her first label arrived: bipolar disorder, alongside anxiety and panic attacks. She was given all kinds of medications, but didn’t get on with them.

I was taking them for a while and they made me really just tired, like I wasn’t even existing, like a dead person really, she says. I couldn’t lift my head, it was weird. That was so frightening to me that I stopped the medication. I couldn’t do anything. It made my suicidal thoughts worse.

“Anxiety and depression have stemmed from my inability to have a quiet mind.”

Sonja struggled on for years, eventually changing to a new GP who told her they had no record of her bipolar disorder diagnosis. She explained her symptoms: constant fidgeting, and not being able to focus, sit down for more than five minutes, or finish tasks, as well as anxiety, depression, and suicidal feelings. Then came a new diagnosis from a different specialist: borderline and narcissistic personality disorder, for which she started year-long schema therapy in November 2015. (Schema therapy is a type of psychotherapy centred around patterns of thoughts or behaviours, often used to treat personality disorders.)

It was only by chance that, in a waiting room when she was halfway through that therapy, she spotted a note on the wall asking people who’d been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or ADHD if they were interested in participating in research. She went for it. I thought maybe I could learn a little bit more about myself, and maybe I could help some people, she says.

She went along to take part in the project run by Asherson’s team at King’s College London, answered the researchers questions, and took their tests. Later an email from the research team landed in her inbox saying that they believed she had ADHD. I started reading more about ADHD, and during that process I realised a lot of anxiety and depression have stemmed from my inability to have a quiet mind my mind was always chattering to me, she says.

That was in January this year. After discovering Sonja’s ADHD, Asherson prescribed her Concerta, a drug containing methylphenidate, a central nervous system stimulant and the active ingredient in the more well-known ADHD drug Ritalin.

I was so fearful because I had been given all these different diagnoses before, and all these medications,” she says. “I thought, Now I have another diagnosis on top of all of these other things, and what is this going to make me like? But it worked. I took one of those tablets and immediately I just felt much more drawn into my thoughts. It was really amazing. I couldn’t feel my anxiety and depression, I couldn’t feel those emotions. I felt elevated and excited and hopeful.

iamharvey for BuzzFeed

Jeff Gawthorpe, now 44, who lives in Leeds, also struggled his way through university with untreated ADHD. He had a breakdown at 21 that resulted in him sleeping at the end of his parents’ bed on a camp bed. The whole world came in on itself, he says.

“It just all came on top of me because I realized I was an adult, and I just couldn’t cope in an adult world at that point, I just couldn’t organise myself, and it led to me being overwhelmed.”

Between then and now he’s been diagnosed with depression several times, and been on virtually every antidepressant there is, but it’s made no difference, he says. Now he thinks that that breakdown, and subsequent mental health issues, almost certainly stemmed from his untreated ADHD.

“The best thing I’ve ever done for myself is getting diagnosed.”

Selena Gomez’s Fans Are Tweeting Messages Of Support After Her Kidney Transplant

You’re amazing, you warrior.

Fans are rallying in support of Selena Gomez after she revealed she is in recovery after receiving a kidney transplant as part of her treatment for lupus.

Two years ago, Selena revealed she had undergone chemotherapy treatment while people thought she was in rehab. She then decided to take a break from work to focus on bettering her health.

@selenagomez / Instagram / Via Instagram: @selenagomez

“I honestly look forward to sharing with you, soon my journey through these past several months as I have always wanted to do with you,” Selena wrote in an Instagram post regarding the surgery.

@selenagomez / Instagram / Via

Since she shared the post, Selena’s fans have inundated the comments with messages of love, support, and heart emojis.

Since she shared the post, Selena's fans have inundated the comments with messages of love, support, and heart emojis.

@selenagomez / Instagram / Via

@selenagomez / Instagram / Via

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What Do You Do To Stop Yourself From Thought Spiraling?

How do you stop yourself from going down ~the rabbit hole~?

A “thought spiral” happens when one concerning thought or event triggers a chain of linked thoughts that keep going until you’re overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, sadness, or stress.

Here’s an example:

I got that question wrong on the test I failed the test I’m going to fail the class It will bring down my entire GPA I won’t get into grad school or get the job I want I’m going to be unsuccessful in life and let down everyone = stress, anxiety, panic, etc.

Fox / / Via

And if you tend to spiral regularly, you know how much time and energy it can take away – which can be frustrating.

And if you tend to spiral regularly, you know how much time and energy it can take away - which can be frustrating.

Sometimes the pattern of thinking during a thought spiral is so habitual, we might not even realize we’re doing it. You might spend ten minutes or you might spend an hour spiraling – and in both cases, you’re removed from the present and consumed with negative thoughts.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed / Via

Even though it may make you feel out of control, it’s possible to stop a thought cycle as its happening and disrupt the pattern of negative thinking.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Maybe you get up and go on a walk outside or change up your environment to remove yourself.

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Puppies Might Be Causing A Diarrheal Illness Outbreak In Seven States

Who knew something so cute could cause so much diarrhea?

An outbreak of Campylobacter bacteria – aka an infection that causes lots of diarrhea – has been linked to puppies sold at pet store chain Petland. It’s caused at least 39 people across seven states to get sick.

An outbreak of Campylobacter bacteria - aka an infection that causes lots of diarrhea - has been linked to puppies sold at pet store chain Petland. It's caused at least 39 people across seven states to get sick.

On Monday, Sept. 11, the CDC announced that it is investigating a multistate outbreak of human Campylobacter bacteria linked to puppies sold Petland stores. Petland is a national pet store chain (not to be confused with Petland Discounts, a separate chain that operates in only three states).

The illnesses associated with the outbreak date back nearly a year to September 2016, and have affected people in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Joshblake / Getty Images / Via

The CDC reported that those affected range in age from 1 to 64. Nine people have been hospitalized, but there haven’t been any reports of deaths. Laboratory evidence indicates that Petland stores are likely to be the source of the outbreak, but additional laboratory results from people and dogs are pending. According to the CDC, Petland is cooperating with health officials.

In a statement published on Sept. 11, sent to BuzzFeed News from Petland’s director of public affairs via email, the company said that the CDC has not indicated any failures of Petland’s operating system that would lead any Campylobacter infection and that the company reinforces proper hand sanitation before and after handling any puppies, and has strict kennel sanitation protocols.

Campylobacter is a common cause of diarrheal illness in the US.

Campylobacter is a common cause of diarrheal illness in the US.

Campylobacteriosis is the infection caused by the Campylobacter bacteria, and it infects up to 1.3 million people each year. “The typical symptoms include diarrhea, fever, nausea, and abdominal cramping. But some people who get infected, especially healthy adults with robust immune systems, might not have any symptoms at all,” Philip Tierno, PhD, clinical professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU Langone told BuzzFeed News.

The illness usually lasts for one week and almost all people recover without any specific treatment. “The immunosuppressed, such as HIV-positive individuals or cancer or transplant patients, might experience more severe symptoms or develop an infection that requires medical treatment,” Tierno says. Pregnant women, young children, and the elderly are also more susceptible. And in very rare cases, it can be fatal, says Tierno.

In either case, you won’t know if you have Campylobacter unless you get examined by a doctor. “Many people will get sick and say, ‘Oh, I have food poisoning’ or something, but you don’t know exactly what caused your symptoms unless a doctor tests your stool sample,” Tierno says. So if you’re concerned, maybe go get checked out.

Bsip / Getty Images / Via

Though it can spread to people through contact with poop from an infected dog, infections are usually foodborne.

Though it can spread to people through contact with poop from an infected dog, infections are usually foodborne.

Campylobacter is zoonotic, Tierno says, which means that humans pick up the organism from animals or animal products. This could happen from handling animals, coming into contact with areas where they live or defecate, or consuming animal products. And sure, many germs from animals are harmless so you don’t need to panic about them, but zoonotic infections can make people very sick.

An infection with Campylobacter is usually linked to eating undercooked meat contaminated with the animal’s feces, unpasteurized dairy, or other food that was cross-contaminated during while being prepared. “It’s very common in cattle and poultry, we just don’t hear about it as often as other things like salmonella or shigella,” Tierno says. The disease isn’t usually transmitted between people.

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