Symptom Spotlight – “Ascites”*

Today’s Spotlight Symptom is:  “Ascites”

Many mesh-injured women and men suffer from this condition, yet it seems to be one of those symptoms that many doctors write off as “idiopathic” when seen in mesh-injured patients. Please refer to yesterday’s blog post to understand how doctors use the term “idiopathic” in a clinical setting.

Click here to learn how to Pronounce Ascites

Definition of Ascites: Ascites is the accumulation of fluid (usually serous fluid which is a pale yellow and clear fluid) that accumulates in the abdominal (peritoneal) cavity. The abdominal cavity is located below the chest cavity, separated from it by the diaphragm. Ascitic fluid can have many sources such as liver disease, cancers, congestive heart failure, or kidney failure. (SOURCE:


Below are actual pictures of Ascites in mesh-injured patients. These four women have shared these intimate photos in hopes that their injuries will help YOU, the reader, or another injured person you may know.




“While a tense abdomen filled with fluid is easy to recognize, initially, the amount of ascites fluid may be small and difficult to detect. As the amount of fluid increases, the patient may complain of a fullness or heaviness in the abdomen. It is often the signs of the underlying disease that initially brings the patient to seek medical care.” (SOURCE:

As I explained in yesterday’s blog, when a patient goes to the doctor with a symptom that doesn’t present in the most common medical context, many doctors do not pursue further understanding about why a common symptom is presenting in an uncommon way.

For example, the most common cause of Ascites is cirrhosis of the liver. So, say a mesh-injured woman presents to her physician with Ascites, but has no history of liver disease or alcoholism, and no cirrhosis of the liver. What happens next; or more appropriately, what should happen next?

The process of diagnosing the underlying cause of any symptom is performed by using the method of differential diagnosis. In the case of Ascites, one other possible explanation for the symptom is:

“Those who have spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (an infection of the peritoneum) develop abdominal pain and fever.” (SOURCE:

It is now well known that mesh can cause life-threatening and recurrent infection. So it seems to me that further investigation would be crucial to any patient with mesh who presents with Ascites.

Differential Diagnosis – the determination of which of two or more diseases with similar symptoms is the one from which the patient is suffering, by a systematic comparison and contrasting of the clinical findings.

Physicians are taught to follow these procedures to continue to rule out every cause, until a fotolia_5910589_XSshort list of possible causes remain. Ruling out underlying causes of any symptom(s) is carried out through a sequence of examinations and diagnostic testing.

With this symptom in particular, I am hearing from many women who are sent away by their doctors with some variation of an excuse, claiming ignorance, or at best, simply treating the condition with pharmaceuticals while refusing to perform simple diagnostic procedures and testing that could provide that doctor with more information and eventually to a better form of treatment, or cure ,and the underlying cause of the symptom.

So, when a mesh-injured patient presents with Ascites, and the physician has ruled out the most common cause of this symptom (cirrhosis of the liver), then his training requires that he begin to rule out additional possible causes.

In graph form, the process of ruling out causes for Ascites might look something like this:



Doctors are trained to use the above method with every symptom or illness. It is part of their daily scope of work, so why do I so often hear from women that they go to the ER, to their family physicians, to their OB/Gyns, and to their Urogynecologists with this disturbing symptom only to be told something like this, “I don’t know what this is,” or “I’ve never seen this before.”? The above process for differential diagnosis is relatively simple. Even the diagnostic testing is relatively simple, as noted above.

To find out more about testing used in the diagnosis of suspected Ascites, refer to the below pictures, and click on these links to learn more.

Abdominal Ultrasound

abdominal ultrasound

Diagnostic Paracentesis


Computed Tomography (CT Scan)


These women describe to their physicians that this symptom is not simply uncomfortable, but it’s PAINFUL. They describe shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, naseau and vomiting, and the obvious limitations in lifestyle and decreased quality of life – not being able to fit into clothing, not being able to lie on their stomachs, pain when sitting, etc. Imagine all the uncomfortable symptoms of being nine months pregnant, except this situation doesn’t end in the birth of a beautiful new family member.

I find it maddening, sickening, detestable, and downright cruel that so many doctors refuse to treat mesh-injured men and women, especially when these patients present with odd or “out of the box” symptoms.

I encourage you to print and use the above graph if you suspect you have this symptom. Bring it to your doctor. Earlier this week, I spoke with a woman who went to her Ob/Gyn with this symptom, and he simply told her there was nothing he could do to help her. What?! She even asked for some of the testing in the above graph, but still the physician refused to help her.

The question we should be asking is “Why?” The action we should be taking is to educate ourselves about our own bodies and what our bodies are trying to communicate to us through symptoms. Our physicians must understand that we know they are refusing treatment, and we know that it’s wrong to do so.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Spotlight Symptom.” I hope this information will help you when you visit your doctor, seeking treatment and a better quality of life.


*I am not a doctor. This information is for educational purposes, and is based on my own experiences. Seek medical attention for this or any other symptom.




Taking a Break from “A Doctor A Day” to report some GOOD NEWS!

Hello Warriors;


Ms. Esperanza Worley, Deputy District Director for U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (left) and Joleen Chambers of FIDA speak passionately about preventable harm by med devices.

This morning was a great morning. Fellow patient advocate, Joleen Chambers of FIDA (Failed Implant Device Alliance), and I met with Ms. Esperanza Worley, Deputy District Director for U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas’ 30th District. We met with Ms. Worley for more than an hour, and we covered quite a bit of ground.

We asked that the Congresswoman, a former RN herself, take immediate action regarding the serious, life-altering and PREVENTABLE injuries affecting mesh-injured patients and patients of Bayer’s Essure device for permanent female sterilization.

Jeffrey_ShurenWe emphasized the FDA’s lax, highly-negligent oversight of the medical device industry in general, even calling for the resignation of, Jeffrey Shuren, Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health since 2010, who has come under scrutiny regarding clear conflicts of interest, which render him unfit for such a position with the FDA. Read more from Joleen’s FIDA blog, here: Injured Device Patients Blitz CDRH’s Shuren.

Allison W. Shuren, Partner and Co-Chair of the FDA/Healthcare Practice Group at D.C.-based Arnold & Porter, LLC.

Allison W. Shuren, Partner and Co-Chair of the FDA/Healthcare Practice Group at D.C.-based Arnold & Porter, LLC.

Also of great concern, Shuren’s wife, Allison W. Shuren, is a partner at Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter, LLP and is co-chair of the firm’s FDA/Healthcare Practice Group. As her bio states, she “advises a broad group of clients, including pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology companies, physician practice management companies and physician practices, hospital and academic medical centers, ambulatory surgery centers, healthcare professional societies, diagnostic imaging centers, and Internet-based healthcare companies.”

Notice Arnold & Porter makes the list of Large Public Policy Practices in Law Firms. *Source: National Law Journal

Arnold & Porter – In “The Influence 50” as one of the number of law firms that counted almost $100 million or more in revenue from work intended to influence federal policy.

One can easily conclude that the couple’s entire household income is dependent upon the success of a failing and harmful tax-payer-funded regulatory agency – maybe the most important regulatory agency responsible for the domestic safety and protection of the American people. Read the National Law Journal’s article in its entirety here: How Large are the Public-Policy Practices Within Law Firms?

Ms. Worley and I discuss important patient safety issues and the failure of the FDA to serve the American people.

Ms. Worley and I discuss important patient safety issues and the failure of the FDA to serve the American people.

We found in Ms. Worley a sympathetic ear, and as a woman herself, she took great interest in our shared causes. She was emphatic that she would share the information we provided her with EBJ and Washington TODAY! We spoke at length about the preventable harm that is befalling so many patients under a regime of stakeholders who stand to benefit from rushing devices to market and keeping them on the market.

I shared my family’s story of the horrors of mesh, and I shared about the recent and tragic death of my mesh-injured friend, Linda Batiste. Other topics we covered:

  • The FDA’s MedWatch Program for reporting adverse events: Passive and reactionary, MedWatch is a convoluted interface that’s difficult to navigate and not well-publicized to patients who would seek to report complications. MedWatch doesn’t serve those who have no internet access and/or are not technophiles, and thus, contributes to the under-reporting of serious adverse events.
  • Issues with Informed Consent: How is a patient enabled to provide true, informed consent when the medical device company, who stands to benefit from the patient’s consent, is responsible for educating that patient’s doctor and thus, the patient (conflict of interest, perhaps)? And how were doctors or patients to know of PERMANENT adverse events when vaginal polypropylene mesh was not studied long term before coming to market?
  • The FDA’s antiquated and deeply-flawed 510(k) process for clearance of medical devices: The current legislation for regulation of medical devices was put into effect in 1976! The FDA’s website states, “The Medical Device Amendments of 1976 followed a U.S. Senate finding that faulty medical devices had caused 10,000 injuries, including 731 deaths. The law applied safety and effectiveness safeguards to new devices.” What has legislation done to protect the millions of harmed patients since then? Clearly, it’s time to modernize this legislation, as the healthcare climate was SUBSTANTIALLY different in 1976 than it is now, almost 40 years later.
  • The FDA’s 522 post-market surveillance program often churns out faulty science. A current 522 study seeks NEW participants to compare Coloplast Restorelle vs. Native Tissue Repair.
    •  This 3-year study cannot possibly accurately reflect outcomes and complications from the implant of a PERMANENT DEVICE.
    • The study is recruiting patients as young as 18!
    • The study seeks to “exclude” patients with “a known sensitivity to polypropylene.” How are doctors going to measure that? To my knowledge, there is no test for “sensitivity to polypropylene,” and if there is, WHY wasn’t this metric used BEFORE millions of people were implanted?
    • Why is the FDA 522 study a prospective study, rather than a retrospective study? The latter would measure outcomes from a patient population already available, which seems a MUCH safer approach and the study could be longer than three years, giving more comprehensive and longitudinal data.

I am ENCOURAGED today, for this is another step towards exposing the dangers of our country’s Healthcare System AND its primary regulatory agency, the FDA. Thank you Esperanza for giving voice to our community, and for opening your heart and mind to our pleas for help.

Thank you Ms. Worley and Congresswoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson!

Thank you Ms. Worley and Congresswoman, Eddie Bernice Johnson!


Please find my latest blog for #TMWF supporter Baron | Budd PC in Dallas. Great people, and I’m so grateful that they have given me a louder voice on a larger platform. Grateful for them. This blog is about the recent Mrs. Joan Budke (deceased) v. Ethicon, regarding its Prolift product. Saldy, Mrs. Budke did within approximately nine months of the implant of the device. Johnson and Johnson


#TMWF’s NEW “Yes M.A.M. Market!” just in time for gift giving!

Hello Warriors;

We at #TMWF are so excited to launch our e-store TODAY, December 1, 2014! Here is the link to our NEW “Yes M.A.M. Market!” e-store! Wow, a store just for YOU!

Give the gift of HOPE, HELP and progress towards HEALING. Visit and our new "Yes M.A.M. Market!" estore.

Give the gift of HOPE, HELP and progress towards HEALING. Visit and our new “Yes M.A.M. Market!” estore.

The store is also accessible via the foundation’s website: Just click on “Yes M.A.M. Market!”

100% of the proceeds from each of the #TMWF Awareness items go right back into The Foundation so that we can continue to layer in more programs and more of our MISSION | VISION | and VALUES as the foundation grows. As we grow in funding, we are able to grow in the services we’re able to provide for the mesh injured and their families!

The “Yes M.A.M. Market” will be part of what helps us fulfill our monthly financial obligations, so that we are not solely reliant on donations and the continued support of sponsorships and fundraisers. We will still need traditional fundraising efforts, but the e-store will help raise awareness and keep us solvent.

Peace on Earth; Goodwill Towards Men

Peace on Earth; Goodwill Towards Men

You will see more items added to the store as we are able to buy more inventory. In the meantime, please check out what we’ve created with our mesh-injured loved ones in mind! We’ve thought about everything from very creative and stylish “#TMWF Awareness bracelets” to “Hospital Helpers,” a line of cross body bags for injured patients going into surgery.

We welcome your suggestions, product ideas, and feedback on the products you buy

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanakkuh!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanakkuh!

for yourself and/or others. It’s our hope that the holiday season will deplete our current inventory, so that going into 2015, we have a great springboard to delve more into the help we’d like to provide and the programs we have planned to launch next year!

We continue to EDUCATE | ADVOCATE | and BUILD COMMUNITY as the core of who we are as an organization, and the pillars of our Mission Statement. Thank you for being part of our community, and part of the solution to create a customer-centric healthcare system. After all, we are the consumers who pay in ways we should, and in PREVENTABLE WAYS – ways that we certainly never should have – MEDICAL HARM that we paid for with our dollars and with our lives, and that we continue to pay for after we’ve been egregiously harmed by a healthcare system we believed was trustworthy.

At #TMWF, we believe the more we HELP, the more we HOPE and the more we advance towards HEALING as a “Family of Chance.”

Much love to you and your family this holiday season, and as your friends consider where they might spend their charitable dollars this giving season, please ask them to consider helping the ONLY NON-PROFIT that exists solely to help you, the mesh-injured patients and your families.

Thank you for being a part of our growing community!

Your humble servant warrior,

Aaron Horton/The Mesh Warrior

#MESHTAKEBACKS/EPISODE TWO – Free Downloadable Mesh Warrior Foundation Calendars – Take back your family fun!

Hi Angels!

With the help of a free software, I was able to created Fun & Free #TMWF Downloadable and Printable Calendars for yourupcoming and (likely hectic) holiday season! Fun to do with your kids or grandkids, and quite necessary with all of the holiday goings on sneaking up on us already.

The calendars print large enough so they are easy to ready, and they are in a different format that is a bit easier for my brain to manage- vertical days instead of horizontal (you’ll see)!  See what you think and let me know!




Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 8.25.05 AM

“THE WHERE’S WALDO” #TMWF CALENDAR – is for engaging smaller kiddos or grand kids! Have them help you spot the #TMWF flowers with you to get started. 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 8.25.15 AM





FREE, Downloadable Sticker Set! Just use glue or tape. :)

FREE, Downloadable Sticker Set! Just use glue or tape. 🙂

f you’re a techy, use the symbol browser to edit your calendar from Power Point and add symbols like these:

 =family fun day

Ø =rest day for Mom or Dad

=surprise for kids (get little gifts or hide something sweet under pillows for them when they awaken!)

 =(this symbol  is commonly called a “hamburger” in the world of Geeks – use it to denote a day of family cooking or family dinner together at home).

These are just some ideas IF YOU NEED TO STAY IN. If you can get out, grab some of those tiny stickers of stars and check marks and turkeys and presents, etc. and build a family calendar together, or OMG – draw!  🙂

Expectations set during the holiday are GOOD, early and often, especially in blended families like mine! Watch your kids learn a new sense of “normal” even within the crazy world of this MESH and the craziness of the holidays. I hope this idea helps in some small way!

Here are some sticker sets which I’m sure Michael’s, Joann’s, Walmart, grocers – any store with school supplies will have!

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.07.02 AM

Have fun and let me know if/how it helps set expectations. Make sure you build in days for YOUR NEEDS, YOUR OWN REST and RECUPERATION for the demands of the holidays. It is stressful, but this is a tool, hopefully, to help you manage that stress.

HAVE FUN! MOST IMPORTANTLY, Add #EveryDayLevity to your life!

FREEBIE-Printable-TMWF-Calendar-Posters FREEBIE-Printable-TMWF-Calendar-Posters (PDFs – smaller file; ready to print and plan or email to friends & family)

FREEBIE-Printable-TMWF-Calendar-Posters (Microsoft Power Point Doc – larger file but ready edit from your computer’s Power Point software and/or print as-is)

Bioactive Leachates from Lab Plastics Use of Plastic Disposables May Compromise Bioassay Results

If that headline and this picture don’t get your attention, well I just don’t know what will! Read this scholarly article on polymers and our use of plastics in the environment and in our bodies.

Link here:

Fun with Polymers!

Fun with Polymers!

Even Warriors Get the Blues . . . .

— UPDATED as of July 18, 2016 — 

 I’m sorry I have been doggone-blog-gone for a while, Warriors.

My first-ever original painting...

My first-ever original painting…

I have a feeling this is going to be one of those, “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way” entries. You see for me, these entries are, each one, original little flowers waiting for me to water them so they can bloom.  This flower’s been buried deep in my heart for weeks, and it refuses to die, even though I’ve ignored it, deprived it of water, food, sunlight and any meager nutrient of thought.  It’s still there, hanging on to life in my heart and mind.  So, you see, it’s not my fault for writing it . . . for who wants to watch or should watch such a lovely, strong yet delicate flower slowly die?

YOU, Mesh Warriors, give me a reason to get up every day.  It’s a good thing.  Now that I’m a bit older, I look back over my life and see that an adversary always ignites a fire of love, energy and justice in me.  I’ve been participating in this community – vocally anyway – since around sometime in early July 2013.  Some of you, I’ve known longer than that, because you kindly reached out to me, recognizing my agony at watching a beautiful and strong, yet delicate creature slowly die – my own mother.

I’ve NEVER, NEVER, EVER met stronger people, stronger women in my life. No CEO of a multimillion dollar company, no celebrity or author I’ve had the fate to meet or spend time with, no self-made businessman or woman or real estate mogul. The physical pain you endure daily obviously doesn’t even compare to someone who can get up and out of bed regularly every day, and for those of you who can still work, how you work, veiling your pain and getting through each day, I’ll never know. The emotional and mental anguish is there too, from constant invalidation, dashed hopes, unanswered questions, doctors who are of zero help, to family who can’t understand or won’t participate or believe in you, and this last one is the one we all share, and one of the most difficult for me:  EVIL.  Confronting the face of pure evil every day, while trying to believe (some days more than others) that you can actually defeat this adversary.

EVEN WARRIORS (and Cowgirls) GET THE BLUES       Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 12.17.25 PM

The Blues

The Blues

It doesn’t compare to what YOU, the REAL Warriors go through, and I know many of you don’t have another Warrior, in your corner, fighting with you. For those of you who don’t, that is why I get up in the morning – to fight the battle for you, with you, and for my own mother and family.

And here’s the thing:  Your Co-Warriors get wounded too, in different ways than you, of course; and we do not tell you, because we don’t want to increase your suffering.

Please understand that I am not comparing the pain of those of us who are not injured to the chronic, daily, unrelenting pain of what you all endure.


This ordeal is a journey that each family member traverses at different paces. Some arrive at the ugly truths of this brutal mesh saga sooner than others; some stay in denial, hoping the pain will somehow evaporate; some take on the atlas, burning their bright light out, shrugging it with tired arms- now too weak to help anyone, even themselves. You can probably think about each category and put one of your family members or friends into each one. Each category has its own benefits and pitfalls.

I’m probably writing this sentence more for myself than for you. This is not a battle; it’s a WAR. And it will be a long one, I fear. This journey isn’t for delicate flowers, which shrivel at even the first sign of a Winter day. Come to think of it, you know, I’ve never understood that American phrase we use during competitive games of Pictionary or as a member of a sports team, or when smack-talking during college football season (OU Sux!). Had to take that opportunity . . . .  sorry, I digressed or regressed possibly.

We say, “You’re such a Pansy!” But why do we say that? The colloquialism basically means, “Dude, you’re a wimp!” but pansies are one of the strongest flowers on the planet, if not the strongest. They don’t wither; they don’t sulk and hang their elaborately-colored, little faces at the days-on-end of a hard freeze; they do not refuse to regenerate, or refuse to LIVE in their cold and harsh reality. Through a C.S. Lewis, Narnia-like winter that could last for ages, they would proliferate, flourish, thrive, and might just be the only sign of the beautifully-victorious spring to come.

Beautifully-colored turquoise-blue pansies.

Beautifully-colored turquoise-blue pansies.

But when the warmth of spring seems so far away from this icy and desolate place – a place without any Hope, but for this one flower, what are we to believe?

Why is this one flower so different than the others?

Why is it hearty, surviving and thriving during the harshest of winters?

Why is it so unique?

I’m sure a botanist could answer these question easily, but the real question is: Why does the pansy exist at all?  And further, why have we been led to believe, even ourselves promulgated the lie that this is a weak flower, when quite the opposite is true?

If you’re a Mesh Warrior, in bed today, unable to do much of anything, but possibly read this blog, maybe you could follow that question to its end – for you – to the end that you are satisfied with knowing.

WINTER - but notice the still small light, a beacon of hope.

WINTER – but notice the still small light, a beacon of hope.

When people ask me about this mesh nightmare, I’ve started literally asking them,

“Well, which pill do you want to take: the blue pill or the red pill (another film reference)?

“Do you want to know how far the rabbit hole goes?”

Some answer directly – right away – and say, “I don’t really want to know the details.”

I don’t blame them.

Others take time to think, eventually saying, “Yes, I’ll take the RED pill.”

So I tell them the bad and the ugly. I say, “Ok, but once you know the things I’m going to tell you, you cannot UN-KNOW them. You will not see the world anymore, as you do now.” They brace themselves then. I ask them how much time they have.

I tell them about the toxicity of polypropylene plastic mesh, and how medical doctors actually thought putting permanently inserting plastic in a human body was a good idea. They called it medicine. They called it a minimally-invasive therapeutic intervention.

I start in with the medical jargon. I tell them about POP and SUI.

I move on to the policy and more jargon. I tell them about the FDA’s 510k process.

I tell them the transvaginal mesh device was not tested on humans.

I tell them about the FDA-approved device used as the predicate device for FDA-clearance of the currently-used transvaginal mesh devices, and how the predicate device was recalled, but was still used as proof to substantiate that the mesh, now in use (STILL in use!), is safe.

I tell them the difference between FDA Approval and FDA Clearance.

I tell them about the smoking gun at the first C.R. Bard trial, the third-party shell company used to gain polypropylene plastic from its source manufacturer, an oil company.  “Yes, they had to lie to an oil company to get their deeds done!” I say.

“SERIOUSLY?” they respond incredulously. “Yes, very seriously,” I underscore.

I tell them about the more than 50,000 pending cases against these medical device manufacturers (as of July 2016, that number has climbed to more than 100,000) .

I tell them about the kinds of injury these devices cause.  I use words like maim.

I tell them about the past four years; how much pain my mother is still in; how hard we’ve worked to find answers.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 12.06.05 PMI tell them how this has broken our family into pieces that, at times, are too sharp even to attempt to pick up and put back together.

So go ahead, call me a PANSY. I will take it as a compliment. Still, even pansies cannot reach for the sun forever.  You, PANSY-WARRIOR (what a ridiculous phrase) need rest and distance and to heal so that we can continue to grow through this – what will be a long, long winter, as holocaust survivor, prolific author and elite pansy, Elie Weisel puts it, “the dark night of the soul.”

But if you are a pansy, you too will survive this dark night of the soul, and you can thrive, just as Mr. Weisel did, until this month, July 2016, at the age of 87. You will not go extinct or be extinguished by this frigid and bleak time. Remember, WINTER is only one of four seasons, and it does not last forever.



In the beautiful poetic words of the Indigo Girls, I’ll leave you with this transcendent song, and its lyric,

“And I ask for Providence to smile upon me with HIS sweet face . . . ah, and I’ll tell you . . . My place is of the sun, and this place is of the dark, and I, I do not feel the romance; I do not catch the spark . . . But I will not be a pawn for the prince of darkness any longer.”

INDIGO GIRLS Album: Self titled Song: Prince of Darkness

Album: Self titled
Song: Prince of Darkness