By Michèle Pankratz
“Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.” – Martha Beck, Author
Change is a basic law of nature. But if your life has been turned upside-down by a motor-vehicle accident and you’ve been left with permanent injuries, you know first-hand how traumatic change can be.
In part two of this series, we discussed sketching a new ‘life blueprint’ to help you get a clearer sense of what you need—and want—your life to look like as you adjust to living with permanent injury. The third step in your transition is to begin to build and live in that new life.
When a car accident first happens, you’re primarily focused on dealing with the physical impacts of your injury. At the same time, you may be encountering difficult emotions such as depression, anxiety, grief, anger and/or apathy. You may be struggling to come to terms with the fact that your life is no longer what it once was and that you’re possibly no longer able to do what you were once able to do. You may no longer recognize yourself. The permanence of this loss can be deeply painful.
Getting the assistance you need to address any emotional challenges following your accident is critical, because in order to truly move forward towards a fruitful ‘new normal,’ you have to fully accept and embrace that your life has permanently changed. From this new mindset, you can then begin to take action—one step at a time if it’s all you can manage. Each step will build upon the other and you’ll gradually start to see the foundation of your new life taking shape. This in and of itself can provide the inspiration and momentum to carry on with your transition.
It’s important to ask for—and be open to receiving—other kinds of support you might need to build your new life (that alone can be yet another adjustment if you’re used to functioning independently). For example, you might seek the services of a rehabilitation therapist and/or other medical specialists, an occupational therapist, a return-to-work advisor or career counsellor, an accountant or financial advisor, a construction contractor to modify your home and/or a counsellor or coach to assist you with ongoing emotional roadblocks. For others, spiritual support is important. You may also want to engage the support of family, friends, or a support group. Share your blueprint or goals with trusted others and consult with people in your personal, medical, or professional circles for reputable referrals. Take each step at a pace you can manage.
To successfully reinvent your life requires no longer looking back at and holding onto ‘what used to be’ but looking forward and opening yourself up to ‘what can be.’ It’s a significant shift that requires time and surrender to what is as well as a change in mindset. Yet it’s a shift that can bring about new possibilities and growth that you might not have otherwise even considered or experienced.
The reality of living with a permanent injury is that no one else can truly know or experience your pain, frustration, or fear of your unknown future. It is ultimately your journey to take. Keep yourself inspired by continually seeking out examples of people in similar circumstances who have overcome the odds or used their traumatic experience as a springboard for a vital new life. More importantly, stay committed to building and living your best life, whatever that looks like for you in your given circumstances. Because while we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, we do have a choice in how we respond.
Read Part I and II of this series:
Part I: Navigating through transition
Part II: Creating a new life blueprint
Transvaginal mesh (TVM) is made of synthetic mesh and is implanted to hold specific organs such as the bladder in place. The increase in surgeries over the last few years involving vaginal mesh has resulted in increased reports of mesh-related complications. TVMs have caused complications including mesh erosion, organ perforation, pain, and discomfort. In many cases, there is a need for additional surgery to remove the mesh. Some women have permanent injuries caused by the mesh implants.
From January 2008 to December 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 2,874 reports of complications associated with surgical mesh devices.
Results of a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of 65 women with pelvic organ prolapse, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG), indicate that cure rates and patient satisfaction following prolapse repair were similar using both Transvaginal Mesh Kits (TVM) and native tissue. But the patients treated with vaginal mesh had more complications and higher reoperation rates.
From January 2008 to December 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 2,874 reports of complications associated with surgical mesh devices used to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
These reports have prompted the FDA to issue advisories. In July 2008 and again in 2010, the FDA and Health Canada issued two warnings about the risks of complications and then in July 2011 the FDA issued a stronger warning that “serious complications associated with surgical mesh for transvaginal repair are not rare. It is not clear that transvaginal POP repair with mesh is more effective than traditional non-mesh repair in all patients with POP and it may expose patients to greater risk.”
The controlled trial was conducted by a group of doctors, and Dr. Robert E. Gutman, presented the research findings at the 39th annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons in April 2013.
The Urogynecology research paper (at www.ajog.org), states that the primary objective was to test the hypothesis that using vaginal mesh improves the one-year treatment success of pelvic organ prolapse surgery compared with traditional reconstructive surgery without mesh. Some secondary objectives were to compare the patient’s quality of life satisfaction, short, and long-term complications.
The trial showed that TVM implant recipients experienced more complications and reoperation rates without added benefits compared to using native tissue.
In June of 2012 Johnson & Johnson said it would stop selling some transvaginal mesh implants, which have been linked to severe complications. But they stopped short of recalling the products.
This halt of sales comes too late for the more than 400 women in Canada who are part of lawsuits against the companies that make these implants.
The Notice of Civil Claim filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against Johnson & Johnson states that transvaginal mesh product information and marketing materials distributed by Johnson & Johnson overstated the benefits and understated the risks associated with the kits. Klein Lawyers is representing women who have been adversely affected by this blatant disregard of responsibility to adequately warn patients of the very high risks associated with this surgery.
By Jason Murray
Hip Implant Class ActionPeople who have hip pain, injuries or diseased joints may opt to receive a hip implant to relieve the pain and improve mobility. Many hip replacement and hip resurfacing patients opted for “metal-on-metal” hip implants such as the Zimmer Durom Cup, DePuy ASR and Stryker Rejuvenate implants; all medical devices now the subject of litigation against device manufacturers.
A metal-on-metal hip implant is one in which both the ball and socket of the implant device are made of metal. Lately, recipients of these products have started to report troubling complications from metal debris and metal ions released by their implants. These symptoms known as metallosis has been linked to pseudotumors, soft-tissue masses relating to the affected joint, cardiomyopathy, thyroid dysfunction, and neurological changes resulting from metal-on-metal implants.
Of late, metal-on-metal implants have become associated with painful soft-tissue tissue masses, often described as “pseudotumors”.
Since 2009, well over 100 hip implant patients from across Canada have contacted Klein Lawyers Personal Injury & Class Action Lawyers, each complaining of pain and discomfort from their implants. Many have found that they were experiencing complications related to the very metal-on-metal nature of their implants. Complaints and complications have ranged from relatively moderate numbness and ‘clicking’ sensations, to debilitating pain and swelling.
For years, many surgeons recommended metal-on-metal hip implants to physically active patients because the surgeons were led to believe that the metal was durable enough to last longer than alternative implant systems that integrate ceramic or plastic.
Of late, metal-on-metal implants have become associated with painful soft-tissue tissue masses, often described as “pseudotumors”. These non-cancerous, soft tissue reactions range from simple fluid collection to more extensive tissue death.
Metal ions released from the implants have also been found to leach into patients’ bloodstreams, spreading to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and kidneys.
Over the past two years, Health Canada and regulators in the United States, United Kingdom, have all issued public warnings about potential health risks following metal-on-metal hip implant surgery. Research studies suggest these implants are more than three times more likely to fail compared to more traditional implants.
For many metal-on-metal implant patients, the result of pseudotumors and elevated metal ion levels is removal and replacement of their implant in what is known as “revision” surgery.
Scores of patients have suffered for years under the illusion that, as recipients of hip implants, they were destined to spend their post-implant lives in pain and discomfort.
Because metal-on-metal implants were frequently recommended to younger, and more active patients, many with pseudotumors and similar problems find themselves sidelined in their prime working or early retirement years. People who hoped to return to work, sport or leisure largely pain free find themselves unable to reap the benefits they had been led to believe were possible with metal-on-metal implants. Patients spouses and children find their own lives impacted by the pain felt by their loved ones.
Understanding the metal-on-metal problem in Canada is even more challenging because the country’s joint replacement registry is largely voluntary and relatively new.
To make matters worse, few Canadian laboratories are equipped to properly test for blood chromium and cobalt ion levels – the metals found in metal-on-metal implants. And most provincial health insurers won’t cover the cost of obtaining these necessary blood tests. One unfortunate result is that many patients and surgeons have delayed necessary revision surgeries where metal ion reactions are not easily identified on diagnostic images. Without revision, most patients’ pain continues unabated.
Hip replacement and revision surgeries are often described as “routine” by health care professionals. But while these procedures may be routine from a medical standpoint, they are anything but from the perspective of patients. These are serious surgeries that take place in a hospital setting under general anesthetic.
Implant revision surgeries are difficult in and of themselves. But surgeons consider revision surgery in the presence of pseudotumours is to be even more challenging. Beyond the revision challenge, patients sometimes undergo additional surgery to pair soft tissue and muscle damage.
Klein Lawyers is currently working on class action lawsuits for people across Canada who have experienced failure of their metal-on-metal hip implants, including the Zimmer Durom, DePuy ASR, Stryker Rejuvenate implants, and other similar products. A class action is a lawsuit that groups people with a common claim together against the same defendant.
David Klein has been selected for inclusion in the eighth edition of Best Lawyers in Canada in the practice area class action litigation.
Mr. Klein has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2006.
Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession and a listing is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.
Klein Lawyers is recognized as one of the leading class action law firms in Canada. Class actions allow people to file their claims as a group, when individually they might not be able to afford to launch individual lawsuits.
Class actions create strength in numbers. For more information go to the Klein Lawyers Class Action FAQ page or refer to the active files below.
If you have any questions regarding a Class Action, call 604-874-7171 or fill out the How Can We Help Form.