Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Friend Kim

I am so blessed to be able to say Kim Hudak is my friend. Kim is one of my e-sisters and if it wasn’t for Essure, I would have never met her. Kim’s Essure story is so remarkable, and her strength and courage is even more remarkable.

Her journey with Essure began in 2000 when she signed up to be a clinical trial participant. Just like so many, she wanted to avoid surgery and Essure is marketed as non-surgical. She became sick almost immediately and the doctors dismissed her symptoms. They weren’t gynecological nature so it couldn’t be Essure; at least that is what they were telling her.

Her symptoms started with sharp pains in my rear pelvic region which were accompanied by generalized achiness, fatigue and severe PMS symptoms. Sadly, she didn’t get better. She was exhausted all the time and did not want to leave the house. Kim went from being happy, healthy and normal to this shell of person who so sick all of the time.

Since she was implanted, she has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, hyper-extensive joint disorder, restless leg syndrome and chronic fatigue disorder and has been prescribed a variety of medications that range from pain killers to muscle relaxers and even anti-depressants accompanied by drugs to treat inflammation. Nothing was helping and Kim, sadly thought and truly believed her days on this Earth were numbered. Many nights, Kim would go to bed in fear of not waking up the next morning.

Kim had always suspected Essure was her problem, however, she always second guessed herself since every single medical professional she spoke with insisted it was not. A few years ago, Angie found Kim when she posted information on another page. There were only 500 women in our Essure Problems Facebook group at the time, and we were all like Kim. We were all suffering the same symptoms and we suddenly realized that we were alone.

Kim had true validation that Essure was her problem and she went to work on getting my health back. She reached out to the study doctor, Dr. Linda Bradley, who is still practicing. She never returned my phone calls, faxes or emails. She then tried to get her records to review with my family doctor and gynecologist and she was only sent 8 pages. It took a couple months, and with the help of the media, she finally received her full medical records, almost 60 total pages of documentation. To say she was shocked by what she read in the file was an understatement. She was shocked to read that her information was altered to reflect that she was doing well with the coils. The entire time she was complaining of issues that were documented, her records for the study said she was doing well. Notations were even made that the doctor suspected a nickel allergy severe enough to warrant removal of the devices, however, this was never mentioned to Kim and it was not included in the study notes.

In October of 2013, Kim underwent a hysterectomy to remove the Essure. She did experience a short period where she felt some relief; however, improper removal has left fragments of Essure in her body. Her health is again declining and she isn’t sure if a resolution will ever be found.

A few people have called me a hero because I gave a speech in German. My act of “heroism” pales in comparison to Kim. The few days I spent with Kim in DC reminded me of different everyone’s Essure story is, and how different the suffering is for all of us. For Kim, some days are better than others; some days she is able to hide that she isn’t feeling well. Then there are the days that she just fights to function. We were talking about yoga, and she said “can’t do a downward dog with these elbows.” Something as basic as extending her arm, something many of us do all the time, isn’t possible because of the inflammation in her joints. She has days where she simply can’t eat; swallowing is uncomfortable. She is okay in the morning, just okay, and that is on a good day. By the afternoon, she is fighting to make it through the rest of the day. In the evening, the umbrella brought with her for the rain became her walking stick.

Last Thursday, I was able to watch my friend Kim as she was a participant in a senate briefing speaking about the adverse implications of FDA approvals. This was the first time I heard Kim speak in front of an audience, and I simply don’t have words to describe how proud I am of her. There was not a dry eye in the room. I knew her story, and she even got me teary. The speech we prepared ended up being too long, so she just ‘winged’ it. She was so genuine, so sincere, and so open with her story, her fight and even her battle.

Kim is my hero and I’m so thankful that the tragedy of Essure brought us together.

Here's the link to her speaking.

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