At twenty-nine years old, Jeanette decided she did not want to have children. With this mindset, she visited a doctor in Texas whom she had heard was “one of the top Gynecologists in the country.” Going into the appointment, she assumed that the doctor would tell her that the best option would be the surgical procedure commonly known as tube tying. However, this was not the case. Instead of tying her tubes, the gynecologist suggested a brand new product called "Essure". He praised the product, emphasizing that it was not only an outpatient procedure, but that it required no surgery, and therefore no downtime for recovery. The doctor, stressing so many positive aspects of this new product while mentioning no side effects or risks whatsoever, sold Jeanette on the idea. Eager to get back to normal life as quickly as possible, she underwent the procedure.
Having the Essure devices implanted, she says, was a minimally painful process, and the first few weeks following the implant were completely normal. Within the first year, however, Jeanette began to experience a number of problems. The doctor never mentioned any possible Essure side effects, and she did not experience any immediate repercussions. Due to this, Jeanette suspected no correlation between Essure and the sudden health issues.
"I started gaining weight,” she admits, “at a pretty rapid pace.” Having always been about the same size, this was undoubtedly very alarming and discomforting to her. In addition to the sudden fluctuations in weight, she suddenly noticed that she was “getting really bloated” as her body retained unnatural amounts of water. This, she states, was especially noticeable in her face and abdomen. “My stomach would get, like, so bloated, it would look like I [was] seven months pregnant,” Jeanette explained. Of course, a women’s worth is not found in her exterior, but at the same time, Jeanette accurately acknowledges that “a lot of [women’s] self-esteem comes from [their] personal appearance,” underscoring how self-conscious and uncomfortable Essure’s effects made her. “I was so depressed with my appearance…I just couldn’t deal with it anymore,” she confesses. On a very personal note, she reveals that while at an office building one day, a woman actually asked her where the expectant-mother parking was. “’Obviously you were able to find a spot,’” Jeanette quotes the woman. For fear of “making an awkward situation even more awkward,” however, she didn’t point out the woman’s incorrect assessment of the situation.
Around that same time, Jeanette started developing allergies. “I was constantly, ( . . . ), sneezing, and my eyes [were] watering, and my skin [was] itching ( . . . ) so I went to an allergist.” After performing different tests, the allergist told Jeanette that she was allergic to different pollens and mold, so she started getting allergy shots. “But the allergies never went away,” she admits. On top of that, she says, she started having bad eczema breakouts on her skin and hands. It was then that she also noticed her hair was falling out. “My hair is long, so it got to be ( . . . )whenever I wore my hair down, you could literally see, like, kind of like a bald spot on the back, because I was losing so much hair,” she claims.
While enduring all of these “mystery symptoms,” as Mrs. Jeanette calls them, she said she began suffering from the worst fatigue she had ever experienced, and she was tired all the time. “I’ve worked since I was fourteen,” Jeanette says. “Sometimes I would have three or four jobs ( . . . ) I am a complete workaholic!” she laughingly confesses. So to be suffering from extreme fatigue and exhaustion placed an unacceptable amount of stress on her professional life. “I’m a flight attendant now, and [the fatigue and exhaustion] got to be [so bad] that I was just tired throughout the entire flight, and I would end up [crashing as soon as I got to the hotel]. It didn’t matter if it was noon or like, five [in the evening], I would fall asleep.”
Knowing for certain that something was seriously wrong, Mrs. Jeanette visited a number of doctors. “They tested me for Crohn's [disease], Lupus, Cushing’s [disease], thyroid problems, everything to try and figure out why I was having all of these problems,” Jeanette tells. “But everything would always come back fine.” The fact that every test she underwent came back negative was only further infuriating and frustrating to Jeanette. Her symptoms were very real, so the cause had to be real, too. “I was kind of thinking that I was crazy,” she laughs in hindsight, remembering the way it felt as doctors falsely assured her that nothing was wrong.
“Finally, I started doing, like, some research on the Internet, and I found out that there were some other women who had the Essure that were having ( . . . ) the same type of symptoms I was.” Previously, when she had mentioned her issues to her gynecologist, (the one who had inserted the Essure), he brushed it off, saying she was premenopausal. At only thirty-one years old, Mrs. Jeanette knew that she was too young to be going through menopause. In addition, the doctor also instructed her to workout more to lose the weight she had suddenly gained, but “I [was] working out,” Jeanette insists, “and I had a really active job.” Nothing was helping. “[The gynecologist] never once, like, even mentioned that [the real problem] could possibly even be the Essure. But obviously, he was the doctor that inserted it. He was ( . . . ),” Jeanette discloses, which is why she believes he was unwilling to reveal the truth.
Finally, with this new revelation of information, Jeanette went to see a different gynecologist in Atlanta, Georgia. This doctor immediately told her of the strong possibility that all of her issues were stemming from the Essure. He claimed to have seen many women with Essure who had been suffering from the same symptoms Jeanette was suffering with. After only two doctor’s visits, Jeanette was told that the Essure devices needed to be removed. Unfortunately, the only guaranteed way to remove Essure from a woman’s body is to perform a hysterectomy.
After five years of suffering due to a device meant to circumvent the necessity of surgery, Mrs. Jeanette found herself on the operating table anyway. “Even though I didn’t want children,” Jeanette reveals, “I also didn’t want [to get] a hysterectomy at the age of thirty-four.” But in order to return to her normal way of life, that was what had to take place.
Now, only about ten weeks later, Jeanette claims to feel drastically different than she did prior to having the Essure removed. Obviously, in order to see the reversal of some of Essure’s effects, more time must be allowed to pass. But already, she proudly proclaims, “I have so much more energy! I don’t nap during the day anymore.” Her allergies have improved, too, “I can actually wear my contacts everyday,” she says, having had to wear her glasses for years due to the allergic reactions caused by Essure.
“The bloating in my stomach has [also gone] down considerably,” Jeanette says, relieved. Her sister described the changes in her appearance since the surgery as “night and day,” which is something that Mrs. Jeanette is incredibly grateful for.
Since her initial gynecologist had such a respectable reputation, and he declined to offer any warnings or negative information about Essure, Jeanette believes she truly was an unsuspecting victim of malpractice and mislabeling. Being a new product at the time, there weren’t many women out there yet who had tried Essure, and it had not been long enough for the few who did have it to experience the repercussions yet.
“I’m just happy that I [eventually] found a doctor who knew about it,” Jeanette states, “so that I can get my life back.” After everything that happened to her, she is infuriated that Essure is still on the market, deceiving women. She expresses her concerns that women who have endured and are enduring the same nightmares she faced may never see any compensation for any of their pain. “And it’s not even really about the money, it’s about getting [Essure] off the market so that other women aren’t effected by it, and to hold [Essure] accountable for their actions.”