Lenda Sugg is rarely comfortable, yet she can’t do anything about it.
“I don’t leave the house at all,” she said.
The Sugg’s south Grand Prairie home is perfectly manicured and tidy, but it’s smaller than they’ve ever known. A mobile home had to replace a three-bedroom brick home, which Lenda and her husband Ernie lost because of medical bills.
She grimaced while sitting at her kitchen table with a pillow at her back.
“I’ve been a burden to my family, I’m a burden to my husband,” she said through tears, releasing a decade of grief and pain.
In 2008, Sugg underwent a hysterectomy. A few months after surgery, she had trouble controlling her bladder. Doctors implanted a device in her pelvis that was made of mesh. She said that the pain was immediate and intolerable.
“It was like my insides were just filled with gasoline, it just burned,” she said. “It was the most excruciating pain you can ever imagine. You could not walk, you could not sit. You just had to find a place to go in your mind to knock it all out.”
In 2012, she said surgeons removed most of the device but told her some of the mesh was embedded in tissue and not removable. She said doctors told her that her pain remains because of nerve damage.
In the middle of a conversation, Sugg winced, began shaking and had to stand up to relieve leg pain.
As the tears fell she explained, “It’s like a needle or a pin. When you sit on it, it’s like electricity constantly going through it. It’s just pain in between my legs.”
She continues to struggle with bladder and bowel control.
The Suggs were one of an estimated 100,000 families who sued Ethicon, the manufacturer of the pelvic mesh. Ethicon is a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson.
Ethicon released the following statement:
“Stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse are serious, debilitating conditions which often result in involuntary urine leakage, pain with intercourse and pelvic pain. With limited treatment options for these conditions, women typically decide to undergo surgery after trying more conservative options without success.
Pelvic mesh has helped improve the quality of life for millions of women with these conditions.
Scientists from around the world who have conducted and reviewed independent research on pelvic mesh agree it is an important treatment option for women. Surgery with implantable mesh is backed by years of clinical research and has undergone rigorous regulatory reviews.
While we empathize with those who have experienced complications, the vast majority of women with pelvic mesh see an improvement in their day to day lives. The safety of those who use our products is our highest priority.”
While some women have been awarded millions of dollars, Sugg says she was offered a $40,000 settlement on Thursday. She is refusing the offer.
“We’d be lucky if we get a third of that $40,000,” Sugg said. “That’s not going to get me the medical treatment I need. I just believe in my heart something can be done to help me get back on my feet.”
“Perhaps we receive nothing, but I don’t want anyone in my position to ever settle. I want them to fight.”
Sugg says she feels like she’s being told that it’s time to give up, but she’s refusing that notion, too.
“Before any of this happened, we had a good life,” she said. “I have been on this earth 63 years, but I only lived till I was 53.”
“And I have to live this way the rest of my life? I don’t!”