As one of the administrators of the Essure Problems support page, I have read countless stories of pain and suffering caused by this nightmare device. A few months ago, a young woman reached out to share her story with me privately. Outside of her immediate circle, I was the only person who knew of the pain caused to her and her family by Essure. I write this one knowing that no matter how hard I try, I can never come up with the words to express that pain that Angela has felt. Those words just don't exist.
In June of 2011, Angela gave birth to her third child. She and her husband decided that Angela would have the Essure procedure done as it was highly recommended by her doctor. She had the procedure done in September of 2011, and at the time, she didn't regret her decision to be sterilized. She knew her family was complete. Three months later, in December, the HSG was performed and this test showed that her tubes were occluded and she was sterile.
Angela noted that she started having side effects shortly after the devices were implanted. Like so many women, she is allergic to nickel and she was not aware that Essure coils are made of a nickel alloy. Some of her symptoms included heavier periods, night sweats, fainting, cramping and severe lower back pains which resemble the back pain that women experience when they are in labor. Staying awake for longer than a few hours became a challenge and she felt like she was living in a drug induced state. Angela had three children, the youngest of which was not even a year old, and the issues with her health were impacting her ability to be a mom.
In April of 2012, Angela took a home pregnancy test. She didn't expect it to be positive as her doctor assured her that she could NOT get pregnant on Essure, especially after her HSG confirmed her fallopian tubes were blocked. The results of that home pregnancy test were positive. If that test was correct, she was now pregnant with her fourth child. Her doctor’s office refused to believe that Essure had failed and she was pregnant. A rep for Essure had even told her doctor that pregnancies with Essure are only the result of errors committed by the physician. Her doctor performed a blood test and this also showed she was pregnant.
Angela was told it was likely the pregnancy would be ectopic or end in a miscarriage due to the Essure devices. She thought this was a case as she was having significant cramping and spotting. Her doctor’s office performed an ultrasound and they shared with Angela that the gestational sac was about 4 times larger than normal, indicative of a pre miscarry situation. For the next several days, Angela lived with the symptoms of what she thought was a miscarriage. She and her husband struggled to come to terms with this sad loss. This, after the shock of finding out they were pregnant in the 1st place. Two weeks later, Angela was told by her doctor that she had not miscarried and that the pregnancy was progressing. This was just one of many moments on the emotional roller coaster for George and Angela. They had experienced the complete shock & then acceptance of an unplanned pregnancy, had decided to embrace the situation as they decided (along with the doctor) that it was a miracle baby. Then, they had mourned the impending loss of the miracle, only to have renewed joy when they learned the baby wasn't lost.
Angela's doctor was still very concerned about the baby. The enlarged gestational sac simply wasn't normal and he referred her to a gestational specialist. Over two separate visits, tests revealed the most heartbreaking scenario. The specialist determined that the baby was not developing properly. A diagnosis of extreme radial dysplasia or radial clubbing was shared with Angela and George. The doctor described the case as one of, if not the most, extreme he had seen. At first, they were told it was only on one side of the upper body, then it became both sides, and then it became club foot as well. The miracle baby was severely deformed. Sadly, they also learned that children with radial conditions generally experience other potentially life threatening disorders including cardiac and renal conditions. There were also strong concerns that neurological disorders may be present.
Angela started to research what may have caused this condition as she was assured that it was not genetic, and her 3 other children were all healthy. The only difference in this pregnancy was the presence of Essure. Angela discovered that Radial Clubbing is most often caused by exposure to a carcinogen during the first seven weeks of pregnancy. Essure is made out of nickel, which is a carcinogen. Angela lives in Texas and had no other environmental factors which would have contributed to this condition.
The news that was shared with George and Angela about the health issues impacting the baby were not shared in one visit. It happened over the course of several closely spaced visits. Each time they saw their doctor, it just got worse and worse. For this baby to have any chance at a somewhat normal life, multiple surgeries would have been necessary as soon as the baby was born, and that is only if the baby was able to be carried to term, and survived outside the womb. Normalcy for this baby would include a life bound to a wheelchair, as well as the necessity of other medical support devices. Again, that is if this baby survived outside the womb. Sadly, the odds were against this happening. With the doctor’s prognosis, George & Angela had to consider what would happen to the quality of life for their three existing children as well as the quality of life for the unborn baby.
Angela is riding this nightmarish roller coaster of emotions and with George; they were living out the most painful experience of their lives. During this heart wrenching ordeal, Angela's aunt called to tell her that she had dreamt of Angela's deceased younger sister. In the dream, her sister was in heaven, holding and caring for George and Angela's baby. Her aunt also told her "not all angels are born in heaven." George and Angela made the very painful and personal decision to send this Angel back to God’s loving embrace by terminating the pregnancy. In July of 2012, she had a partial hysterectomy. Since that surgery, her other side effects have subsided. It was confirmed that she was fully occluded at the time of the hysterectomy and her coils never migrated.
Angela hopes that sharing this story will somehow make a difference. Maybe her story will stop someone from getting Essure or it may enlighten women who are pregnant to the risks this device poses to an unborn child. There are women who have given birth to babies, e-babies, conceived while they had Essure. These babies may already have or may develop health issues that have not yet been connected to Essure.
I'm going to end this blog by quoting something Angela recently typed on our Essure Problems Facebook Group, "if we E survivors can’t get justice for the circumstances forced upon us, then hopefully we can at least help someone else make a more informed decision. Maybe we can even save a life."