Nikki Morris has three very busy little girls at home in Haines City. Her husband works full-time and she stays home and home-schools the oldest while looking after the little ones.
Her pregnancy and delivery with her third daughter was a rough one, so she spoke to her doctor about permanent birth control options.
The Essure procedure sounded like a convenient option, because it could be done in the office and had no recovery time, as opposed to tubal ligation which is more invasive.
The device works by inserting flexible coils into the fallopian tubes. Eventually tissue will grow around the coils causing a permanent barrier that blocks sperm from reaching the eggs for fertilization.
Morris said within four months of having the device implanted she couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't stand and was in debilitating pain.
"I remember telling my husband every night before bed to please check on me and make sure I keep breathing, cause I would go to bed every night scared to death I wasn't going to wake up the next morning," she said in an interview with Local 6's Lauren Rowe.
During a phone call with her mother, Morris discovered she had experienced a childhood allergy to nickel and wasn't even able to have pierced ears.
The Essure coils contain nickel alloy, and a warning is even given in the product's information for use, or IFU, provided to doctors.
Morris believed the coils were poisoning her body and contacted her doctor.
"He said there was not enough nickel to be causing those problems," she said.
After more months of pain, she ended up at Florida Hospital Celebration in the office of gynecological surgeon Dr. Steven McCarus. Dr. McCarus felt the coils had to be removed from her body to get her feeling normal again.
The only way to do that was to perform a hysterectomy and remove Morris' fallopian tubes and uterus.
"I was 25 years old and had to have a hysterectomy, I don't think that’s acceptable at all," said Morris.
She is not alone. Thousands of women across the country say they’ve had to get hysterectomies after having the Essure device implanted. They have joined together on Facebook, and have the help and attention of consumer advocate Erin Brockovich.
Heather Hare, a 44-year-old mother from the Tampa area, is among those women.
She chose to have a hysterectomy in October and said the minute she woke up from the surgery she felt better.
"My body and my mind was that of an 80 year old and I just thought to myself everyday that I couldn't imagine living another day like this," said Hare.
Like Hare, many women who’ve had the procedure talk about getting a ‘brain fog’ where they cannot remember daily tasks.
Trish McFarlan, a 34-year-old mother of two from Orlando, has had that fog along with nagging pain for over four years and blames the device.
However, she said she is not quite ready to give up her organs to have Essure removed and is looking for a doctor who will remove the coils themselves.
Dr. McCarus does not think that is an option.
"It's a device that can't be removed easily so patients need to know that. Patients that have a nickel allergy or who are on steroids, patients who are not sure whether or not they are ready to be sterile or not should not have the device," he said.
Morris, Hare and McFarlan said they were never asked if they had an allergy to nickel prior to getting the Essure implants.
When Essure was first approved by the FDA in 2002, nickel was listed as a contraindication in the information for use.