One woman says she completely lost the use of her hand after the contraceptive implant got stuck, so deep doctors couldn’t remove it.
Danielle Jarrett had a small flexible plastic rod , called nexplanon , It was inserted into her arm three years ago and didn’t have any problems until she went to replace it.
But when her GP couldn’t remove the 4cm implant, she was referred to a specialist – who also couldn’t be found.
The 24-year-old, from Dartford, Kent, said another two-hour operation to remove it also proved unsuccessful.
After the operation, Danielle says her hand became “numb” and floppy, and despite reassurances, the feeling never returned.
She visited her local A&E and was told she suffered nerve damage, but that movement would resume after 12 weeks with regular physiotherapy appointments.
A year after the operation, Danielle says she still hasn’t felt any movement or feeling in her left arm, which she can’t use at all.
The insurance worker has been forced to rely on her 53-year-old mother, Alison, to help her cut her food, wash her hair and get dressed.
Danielle said it “ruined” her life.
She explained: “I’ve completely lost my left hand. I can’t use it, I can’t feel it, nothing.
“I suffer from a disability now but you won’t even think of looking at me.
“I took what I could do before, seriously. Now I can’t use a knife and fork. I have to get someone else to cut my food.
“One time I went out to dinner with my friends and they had to do it for me and I just looked like a lazy diva.
“I can’t wash my hair. Zips are a no-no. Forget trying to put on a bra by myself.
“It really changed my life when I was doing something responsible.
“I worry now that when I go out shopping and I take a long time until people are going to be angry with me.
“I don’t know what it’s doing to my body or whether I’ll be able to have children.
“I really regret that.”
The contraceptive implant is a small flexible plastic rod that is placed under the skin in your upper arm by a doctor or nurse.
It releases the hormone progestogen into your bloodstream to prevent pregnancy and lasts for three years.
Danielle visited her GP in May 2019 to have the implant removed, but was told it had sunk too deep into her arm and would need to see a specialist.
She was sent to a sexual health clinic for removal, but was again told it was too deep and was to be booked for a hospital operation in January 2020.
After a two-hour attempt to remove the implant, Daniels says doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital in London told her they had to leave the implant inside her left arm because they couldn’t remove it.
She left the hospital feeling “numb” in her left arm, but when she returned home she noticed that her hand was floppy and resembled a “Harry Potter scene.”
Danielle said: “When I first pulled out it was quick five-10 minutes of work.
“I was expecting exactly the same this time.
“When I was asked to go to the sexual health clinic they said they couldn’t find it in my arm which was a little worrying.
“She said she didn’t feel comfortable enough to start biting.
“It was coming up on ultrasound but it was very deep. So they told me I had to go to the hospital for an operation which was my worst nightmare.
“I went with it but they were digging around and trying to figure it out for two hours but still couldn’t get it.
“I was sent home in a sling, but when I was on my way home I realized I couldn’t feel my ring finger.
“Then it started getting worse.
“I really don’t know how to describe it.
“It was just like that scene in Harry Potter when his bones are removed from his arm and it all turns floppy.
“That’s what my hand was doing but I thought it would get worse.
“I went to bed and thought everything would be better in the morning.
“But when I woke up I couldn’t feel my forearm and was unable to separate my hand from the little finger.
“I went to A&E and they told me I had nerve damage but said it would get better in 12 weeks and was told I needed a little physiotherapy
“But it didn’t get better after 12 weeks.”
Danielle says she wants to understand “what went wrong” and wants the implant to be detected and removed.
For the past year, she has been adjusting to living life using just her right hand.
She says she now relies on her 53-year-old mother, Alison, to help her with her everyday tasks such as cutting her food, bathing and changing.
Danielle said: “I’m lucky I have but I can see they get frustrated at times.
“I’d love to be able to do everything for myself again. It’s not a matter of whether I’m lazy or not.
“If it were my right hand I would be completely screwed because I am right handed.”
Danielle had an MRI scan last year to monitor the effects of the overdue implant on her body, but the permanent damage and if her fertility has been affected is unclear.
Danielle believes the implant was not inserted properly, having already had an implant inserted and taken out three years ago.
A spokesman for St Thomas’ Hospital said nerve damage may have occurred at the time of removal rather than at insertion.
Danielle said: “I just want to warn other women about this.
“It’s one of those things you don’t really think about.”
She said: “I’d really hate to see someone else know what I’m doing.
“I didn’t have a problem while I was on it, it was taking it out that that was the issue.”
She said that now everything is a “real struggle”.
“I used to volunteer at an animal rescue center but I’m unable to do so because I don’t have access to two weapons.”
Danielle says she’s trying to keep “as positive as possible” about the situation.
She said: “The doctors thought it was temporary but nothing was getting better.
“They are indicating that this will be something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.
“It’s just devastating.”
A spokesperson for St Thomas’ Hospital said: “Due to privacy we are not allowed to comment on individual patients.
“We can confirm that contraceptive implants are deep-seated or that migration after insertion is unfortunately a recognized problem. Nerve damage is very rare.
“Guidance is not to attempt to remove implants that are difficult to palpate, without scanning guidance. So we do not attempt to remove any implants that are difficult to grasp.
“It is important to be clear that any nerve damage would likely have occurred at the time of removal rather than at insertion.”
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