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.




Dr. Raz Debates: To Mesh or Not to Mesh?

Shlomo Raz, MD

Shlomo Raz, MD

Dr. Shlomo Raz, known wide and far by our Mesh Warrior community as the preeminent surgeon for full transvaginal mesh excision, debates a fellow urogynecological surgeon at the 2015 American Urological Association Annual Meeting, held in New Orleans in May of this year.

Below is the video of the debate.


What do YOU think about the merits of each position?

2015 Debate: Surgery for Stress Incontinence – With vs. Without Mesh

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.17.50 AM

Dr. Raz Debates at the AUA’s 2015 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, taking the position that mesh SHOULD NOT be used to treat SUI.

*WARNING – There is graphic medical content including live-action film of genitalia and surgical interventions.

“2 Doctors 2Day” – Dr. Kevin Benson of Sioux Falls/Dr. Vincent Lucente of Allentown, PA

Hello Warriors;

Coloplast Restorelle Direct Fix for POP; the device used in this FDA 522 study.

Coloplast Restorelle Direct Fix for POP; the device used in this FDA 522 study.

Below are two more physicians who are participating in the prospective cohort study, ordered by the FDA:

Restorelle® Mesh Versus Native Tissue Repair for Prolapse

If you live in or around Sioux Falls, SD or Allentown, PA, please be aware of these recruiting physicians, and please share this post with friends and family members who live in these areas.

Kevin Benson, MD, MS of Sioux Falls, SD

Kevin Benson, MD, MS of Sioux Falls, SD

Sanford Research

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States, 57104

Contact: Jessica Howard/605-328-1389  

Principal Investigator: Kevin Benson, MD, MS

Dr. Vincent Lucente, a Coloplast Proctor, recruiting new women for implant with Coloplast Restorelle Direct Fix.

Dr. Vincent Lucente, a Coloplast Proctor, recruiting new women for implant with Coloplast Restorelle Direct Fix

The Institute for Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery 

Contact: Marcie Taff, RN/610-435-9575   

Principal Investigator: Vincent Lucente, MD, MBA  

It is no surprise that Dr. Lucente is recruiting for the Coloplast Restorelle study that would implant new women with a Coloplast product. The doctor touts his role as a “Proctor” for Coloplast. A proctor is usually a doctor, paid by a manufacturer, (in this case, Coloplast) to tour the U.S. or other parts of the world to teach other physicians how to use the manufacturer’s product(s). In this case, Dr. Lucente has been touring Australia, teaching physicians how to use Coloplast’s “Altis Single Incision Sling” for SUI. Many of Coloplast’s products under litigation, for SUI and POP, are still sold.

See below for a video describing the placement of the “Altis” device.

The important point here is that many doctors (and very obviously Dr. Lucente) have an incentive to recruit patients for these studies, because THESE DOCTORS ARE PAID BY THE MANUFACTURER TO DO SO. To me, that represents a clear conflict of interest for any FDA-ordered follow-up study (522 study) to render unbiased science.

Coloplast “Altis” Procedure Animation

I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m ending this post on a high note, but I am ending it on a note. . . from the great Billy Joel and his famous song, “Allentown.”

Dear Allentown, PA:

Don’t let the manufacturers of ANYTHING “take all the coal from the ground” again or return under a new name to take your mothers, grandfathers and fathers who “met at the USO” and fought and survived World War II at home and abroad. Mesh manufacturers, too, will “crawl away” leaving a generation of your families demolished by polypropylene mesh. 

I wouldn’t say it if I hadn’t seen it myself.

Generations of families are being wiped out by an enemy of a different name.

The rest of the country thinks of your community as the great, sturdy, American, Allentown.

Stand up to mesh in your community!

“Allentown” Lyrics/Billy Joel (1982)

Well, we’re living here in Allentown
And they’re closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line

Well, our fathers fought the second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey shore
Met our mothers in the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow

And we’re living here in Allentown
But the restlessness was handed down
And it’s getting very hard to stay

Well we’re waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved

So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke
Chromium Steel

And we’re waiting here in Allentown
But they’ve taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face

Well, I’m living here in Allentown
And it’s hard to keep a good man down
But I won’t be getting up today

And it’s getting very hard to stay
And we’re living here in Allentown

One Doctor, One Paragraph – What I Wish I Had Known

One doctor’s paragraph explains what I wish I would have known before my mother was approached and recommended to receive a polypropylene transvaginal mesh implant.



The Talisman

Today, my @WeGoHealth community asked the community of Health Activist Writers (#HAWMC) to write about “Things Remembered,” – items we’ve kept which remind us of an important time in life – whether it was a good day, a stressful time, or a happy moment in life.

Several years ago, my husband and I had a very intense conversation about “The Talisman.” Our lives were getting so out of control with illness, job stressors, family stressors, daily stressors, etc. that it was difficult to stop the world from spinning just long enough to look in one another’s eyes, breathe, and remember that many of those negative stressors, though urgent, are not ultimately important to our lives, to us individually, to our marriage or to our family.

I laugh when I remember that evening. While at dinner, we used a cut lime as an example of a talisman. A talisman is really just any “amulet or charm,” but it’s also “anything whose presence exercises a remarkable or powerful influence on human feelings or actions.”

The “amulet or charm” that evening was a lime slice. We wanted, needed even, to mark our conversation in time and space so we wouldn’t forget the depth of our conversation, the meaning of those few precious minutes suspended in time, marked by our lime-talisman.

Small turquoise rocks, found in the Arizona dessert.

Small turquoise rocks, found in the Arizona dessert.

Since then I’ve taken the concept further in my life. I keep and give small remembrances to mark special moments in time. Since most of us don’t need just one more “thing,” these things remembered generally fall into two categories for me:

1) Pebbles, shells or unique rocks found, and. . .  2) Bracelets. Lots and lots of bracelets.

The found items usually come from a long walk, one I take to pray, clear my head, make a difficult decision, unwind from an emotionally stressful or tense situation. Last year, while staying with a mesh-injured friend in Arizona, I had one such difficult decision to make. I took a 45-minute walk in a nearby park. In the sand and dirt of the dessert, small rocks of turquoise and/or quartz are easily found. As I combed the dirt, I prayed for each person involved in the situation and picked up a piece of unique rock. I prayed again. I rolled the rocks between my fingers as I remembered each person. At the end of the walk, I had six rocks for six people and one decision that I knew was the best decision I could make, with the information I had at the time.

#TMWF's Mesh Injury Awareness Bracelet

#TMWF’s Mesh Injury Awareness Bracelet for sale at

Similarly, I have an inventory of very special bracelets, given to me by close friends and family members. I don’t know if it’s a Texas thing or a me thing, but I feel naked if I leave my home without at least four bracelets on my arm and lipstick on my lips and in my purse. 😉

Ok, maybe it’s a weird idiosyncrasy, but the bracelets serve as talismans for me. I have several special ones, given to me by women in the mesh injured community. I have one very special bracelet given to me by mother, which I seldom, if ever, leave the house without. I look down throughout the day and remember those I love. The bracelets remind me to be in continual prayer for women in my community and to be ever mindful and thankful for their unique influences in my life. They are each so indescribably special to me, and their efforts to love me by noticing that I wear bracelets and then sometimes even making bracelets for me – these are nothing short of exquisite gifts that fill me with gratitude in joy. bracelets_resized_retouched

Music holds a similarly strong effect over me, and I often make playlists (formerly the items known as “mix tapes”). 🙂

Music is the greatest language of the world. It unites all people, no matter what their primary language is. I can share love, hope, anger, frustration or determination with my whole community through the miracle of music and how easy it is to share music today. I often post playlists on SoundCloud, and these too serve as deep-seeded reminders of a past time, sometimes good, sometimes painful, but always powerful.

Other items I have in my home serve as talismans. If you know me, you know there is NOTHING in my home which doesn’t hold a very dear memory for me of a person or of a special time. Not even one glass or piece of furniture is meaningless to me. I guess you could say I’m rather sentimental. But these items represent very important times and people in my life. I dare not risk forgetting. I want to dwell in and among the memories as long as I can. After all, much of what makes us unique is the compilation of our unique set of memories.



Izzy’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow Remix – FREE DOWNLOAD!

This definitely put a spring in my step this morning! I love music as a healing toy, so I share lots of it using SoundCloud. If you want to see all my playlists, just create an account. Otherwise, enjoy this gem I found!



 An open-source article bylined by The Mesh Warrior

and contributed to by his patients

November 26, 2014


Dr. Veronikis

Dr. Veronikis

We begin Part II of the II-Part Interview with Dr. Veronikis where we left off, with this quote by Dr. V:

Third Edition, “Vaginal Surgery,” by David H. Nichols and Clyde L. Randall

“Dr. Nichols taught me how to do slings.”




After he runs through his list of mentors and/or collegues, Dr. Veronikis rapidly lists his use of differing protocols for repair of POP and/or SUI, some using organic material or the body’s own material, some using polymers, INCLUDING SYNTHETIC POLYPROPYLENE MESH.


Specifically, he lists these procedures and products by name:

  • Fascia Lata Sling

(Source added by author:

  • Abdominal Fascia Lata Sling

(Source added by author:

  • Mersilene Mesh

(Source added by author:

  • Polyetheline Synthetic Sling

(Source added by author, Google Scholar:

  • Polyethylene Terephthalate

(Source added by author:

Dr. V. makes reference to studies done by others, some I recognize, as they are often cited in the courtroom by both plaintiff’s and defense attorneys (specifically the now-infamous  Ulumsten study). He’s still doling out the information as if throwing tennis balls for me to catch in rapid succession, and I am grabbing them all out of the sky somehow in a juggling act of words and phrases. His speech is an impassioned rant of sorts, and finally, this statement:

“If they aren’t slings, they’re swings.”

Dr. Veronikis punctuates his list with a sentence.



Dr. V. continues:

“A Mersilene Sling could give us enough material to suture the sling to the abdominal fascia, so these things fail the least. When we are doing abdominal slings, that’s not enough material so you have to attach a suture onto it. “

He stops to ask me a question, as if teacher to student,

“Aaron, think of a swing, where the rubber seat attaches to two chains and attaches to the bar at the top. When the swing breaks, where do you think that happens?”

I answer, “I would think where the rubber seat connects to the metal chain.”

“Yes,” he says, “You are a very smart woman.” I actually said, “Thank you. I know that.” Not sure where that came from, but Audrey Hepburn once said, “You know you have become a lady when you’re able to graciously accept a compliment.” Not sure I was so gracious, but I guess I felt the question to be condescending. It seems obvious to me, like common sense, basic physics. I’m sure he was trying to teach me with good intentions, because he’s a teaching physician, so I think that was a bit snappish on my part.

Anyway, I am trying to keep up with him, because the question I asked originally was:

“When and how did you first learn about mesh?” And what was your initial reaction? How did you think through the new procedure and device?”

. . .  and I’m still waiting for the answer. We are now well into an hour of our conversation, and still I’ve not found a succinct answer to my first question amidst this list of connections and colleagues; credentials; products; procedures and polymers; or even buried somewhere in his hasty pace – quite rapid indeed.

Nonetheless, I appreciate his thorough education. It is a very good base education for all of us. I am appreciative of his time in this regard and I gave my full attention to every word he said, though, at this point, I’m wondering if he’s trying to front-run me so I don’t capture all the info, or if he’s just pressed for time. I would think if it were the latter, he would just answer the question, but still he continues at this rapid pace, talking about history. No matter; I like history, so I’m still intently listening and typing away.

He continues, “In 1994 we were already redoing and undoing procedures. They’d [the patient] then either get a Fascia Lata Sling or a Mersilene Sling. The ideal approach then was Rectus Fascia Retropublic, to the abdominal ‘swing,’ where the “chain” goes to the pole all the way around,” (this a reference to his earlier analogy of a rubber swing hanging from two chains, where the rubber seat connects to the metal chains, as in a swing set). . . . “From the poll, to underneath the swing to where the swing connects to the rubber. Suture attached to the sling, and it will almost always fail.”

Veronikis cites a “98-99% cure rate for SUI, with the synthetic Mersilene Sling,” (petro-based polymer sling, produced by Johnson & Johnson). This fact pulled from the mid 1990s he says.

“[As doctors] We’re trained to care about people. We view medicine as a calling, not a business.” This sentence seems to conclude the answer to the question, which I feel clearly seemed to “set him off” somehow.


. . . and, finally, the answer to my first question!

The first approach by Ethicon came while Veronikis was still a fellow in 1997 and again in late 1998 and 1999 in St. Louis at his practice, he says. The salesman’s name was Will Irby. When Mr. Irby came to visit, Dr. V. listened to him:

“I base my decision on common sense and the philosophy of ‘should I consider this?’ I told him [Mr. Irby] that his procedure is flawed. There is no way they [J&J] put something together that has common sense.”

Dr. Veronikis makes an interesting point, and he makes the point as if it’s common knowledge. “They are engineers and scientists, not doctors,” when he refers to the developers of the device Mr. Irby is pitching to him. This writer would have thought a team of doctors would be working together with engineers and scientists in the development process. Now, that IS new information to me. It seems like that collaboration amongst these disciplines would be as obvious as the collaboration between an architect with a builder to supply a client with a custom-built-to-spec home.

Anyhow, the visit(s) from Ethicon also include a man named Brad Patel at some point. Dr. Veronikis tells them, “You didn’t go to the experts to ask these questions…. Why? You put this in the hands of untrained surgeons.” And then Dr. V asks the Ethicon team to leave his office. At hearing Dr. V say this, I feel a sense of hope: He asked them “Why?” At least now I know that someone in a position of authority asked someone else in a position of authority the simple question, “Why?” and asked that person a long, long time ago. In my opinion, so many more doctors should have acted as Dr. V did. When I was watching the the Linda Batiste vs. Ethicon trial, I watched Dr. Tom Margolis testify. His response to these sales reps was the same. In my own words, on the stand during Linda’s trial, Dr. Margolis testified that he basically said, “What are you people nuts?! I’m not putting this horrible stuff in women!”

And Dr. Margolis made the decision from the beginning, to never put ANY polypropylene mesh in women, not even once, as he testified.

Dr. Veronikis tells me he himself went to Ethicon’s training courses in Cincinnati. He was trained by AMS in Chicago for the Apogee & Perigee systems. He was trained by Avalta in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) and attended training seminars in 2005 for Bard and was sought out by the VP of C.R. Bard.

He tells me he once confronted the president of J&J saying, “You all are engineers, not doctors,” regarding the Prolift product which he said has “way too much mesh.”

Dr. V continued, “Vaginas are supposed to be soft and pliable – ‘Yiasoo!’” he says. I giggle and ask if that’s a Greek colloquialism. He chuckles briefly and keeps talking.

“TVT (referring to Ethicon’s TVT Team) came and talked to us in Boston.” He says he stopped getting invited to trainings. The reps would come by and give him the DVDs. “Prolift was the most radical,” according to Dr. V.


In a word, “Yes.”

In a whole lot more words, Dr. V. told me he’s performed more than 10,000 procedures using polypropylene slings. The Suburethraeal Retropubic Sling is a procedure that uses mesh, and it’s my experience that most established, well-experienced OB/GYNS or Urogynecologists use the mesh for this specific procedure and maintain that the procedure and products they use are safe and effective in the hands of a skilled surgeon (themselves). When Dr. V. told me he’d performed approximately 10,000 polypropylene slings, he stressed that he used Uritex® (made by C.R. Bard) but that the company “got rid of that.”

Bard's Align Mesh Product

Bard’s Align® Mesh Product


He switched to a product called Align® (Link to PDF Brochure), also made by C.R. Bard. When Bard came out with that product, he began putting in about 550 slings per year, but he says he never liked it. He tried it for a month or so and saw that too many patients were having problems, so he stopped using it.


Caldera Desara® Mesh Product

Caldera Desara Mesh Product



Dr. Veronikis now performs approximately 700 slings/year using Caldera Desara® (Link to PDF Brochure) for SUI and C.R. Bard’s Alyte® for Sacral Copoplexy, a procedure for Pelvic Organ Prolapse or POP, as it’s most often called (Source added by author:

Again, this practice to correct vaginal prolapse using mesh is NOT UNCOMMON among OB/GYNs and other female pelvic health specialists and surgeons. As one who believes there HAS NEVER BEEN ADEQUATE SCIENTIFIC STUDY DONE ON THE PERMANENT PLACEMENT OF PETRO-BASED SYNTHETIC, POLYPROPYLENE IN HUMANS, I respectfully disagree with Dr. V’s continued use of mesh. My role in this MESH MESS is to educate patients so they can make their own decisions, with Dr. V. or whichever doctor any patient might choose to treat SUI or POP. One’s own health and other factors like co-morbidities make a one-size-fits-all recommendation impossible and irresponsible. I would not choose for myself to ever have synthetic, petro-based polypropylene implanted in me anywhere, ever. In my experience, the mesh “cure” has proven to be worse than the original problems of SUI and/or POP. That’s my decision for myself.

In fact, my own OB/GYN’s practice in Dallas, Women’s Health Central, uses mesh for the Suburethraeal Retropubic Sling procedure. I called my doctor, Dr. Francesca Perugini, whom I have adored for many years. I asked her to call me personally by leaving a message with her nurse. She returned my call within the same week, and I told her my family’s problems (and that of many other women and men) with the mesh and spoke about the scientific papers and FDA warnings I could share with her. She became a bit exasperated and hurried the conversation. I told her, regretfully, that I would not be able to come back as her patient, after many years of loyalty, because she was choosing not to take my comments and the research I offered seriously enough to read or even entertain the notion of a “conversation” about it, like one where we might sit in her office. Is that kind of appointment even billable? I don’t know. So, that is how I held my doctor accountable. I do the same with the mesh manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson. I hold them accountable where I can and where it matters to them most – with the use of my dollars. I do not buy their products, not their Q-tips, not their air fresheners, not their cleaning products, not their hair or skin care products- none of it. I believe when it comes to companies and service providers, the only way we can hold them accountable is to take our hard-earned dollars away from them, use them with companies who do actually honor customers and families. If we do not like the way they behave in the marketplace, which is RUN BY THE CUSTOMER, and if we can gain access to being informed consumers, then we can choose to invoke our own punitive damages, not awarding them our dollars. I know this is difficult to do with many of the manufacturers since they are mainly Business-to-Business service providers, not Business-to-Consumer service providers, but you can experiment with informing yourself about everything J&J makes. It’s a good place to start to take back some of your own power in this equation.



A Patient Treated by Dr. Veronikis:

“He was my surgeon and used mesh. It eroded into my bladder but he was doing what he could to repair something no other surgeon would touch. I now have a permanent urinary diversion. I hold noting against him.”


When I tell the doctor about the patient above (who approached me without using her name). He said, “She is the only one.” He asked if I would relay a message to her, asking that I invite her to email him.

MY conversation with Dr. V has been well over an hour, close to two now. I haven’t even asked the second question on my list!


“How has your opinion about polypropylene mesh changed after the last many years and after removing it?”

DR. V.:

“Hasn’t changed much from my initial perception. The least amount possible [of mesh] if you have to use it, placed precisely by high-volume surgeons who are trained. Not all polypropylene is created the same.”

Dr. V. concedes he has become aware of some immune issues and says he is still learning about that. He says he’s always believed the least amount of material in the right spot is the best option.


“Do you have the additional three years of urogynecological surgical education that, for example, Dr. Michael Hibner has? Do you think it’s necessary?”

DR. V.:

“He [Dr. Hibner] went away for six months, to think about things. “Dr. Hibner wants them [patients] to know how much mesh is left in them.”

Dr. Hibner has gone to his hospital administrator and lobbied, pleading “Please do not allow mesh kits in this hospital.” The same is true for Dr. Veronikis. In the case of Dr. V’s lobby, his actions created a credentialing process. Dr. Veronikis sits on the credentialing board for Mercy Hospital in St. Louis and considers POP repair using POP Kits with mesh to be an experimental procedure. He sits on the board that certifies doctors in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.

The admirable actions by Dr. Veronikis took the POP Kits off the table at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis. As a result of his actions, POP Kits cannot be used in his hospital at all now, by any doctor with privileges there. That is a demonstration of his care and character as a physician. He is in a position of authority, and he used his position within his sphere of influence to make things better. If we’d only had more people on the manufacturers’ side of the equation making small steps towards the right direction, things would probably be quite different.

According to Dr. V., “Any overseeing medical board will not tell any hospital what they can or cannot do in their credentialing, Dr. V informs me. Boards use the ‘Practice Bulletin’ – as the official published communication, which creates the acceptable “Standard of Practice.”

In the experience of this patient advocate, this “Standard of Practice” is a code most doctors follow rigorously, as it comes with the support of their credentialing authority, in this case, The American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The many and varied medical boards across the nation are very, very powerful, and doctors pay a fee to belong to the boards and retain their credentials. For purposes of discussion and elucidation only, you can think of any medical board as a “doctors’ union” of sorts, just as an easy comparison. If a doctor is following his or her credentialing board’s “Standard of Practice,” then in my experience, the doctor does not feel it necessary to question that standard, for example by questioning the still-sanctioned Suburethraeal Retropubic Sling procedure, which can and does use any number of mesh/synthetic polymers. I believe it also adds to the psychological belief held by many doctors that they need not do or accept further study or research on any procedure or device, because if it’s sanctioned by a “Practice Bulletin” than research could only serve to strengthen the view that is already held, or conversely, present unanswerable questions which cannot be answered by a “Practice Bulletin.” I assume that could be an uncomfortable place for a doctor to be in – go along with the flow, or create a decision point, a fork in the road between what the doctor may think is the best course of action for any treatment and what the accepted “Practice Bulletin” says is best. It’s at least a good question to offer you, my reader, in my opinion.

Whether a product is “safe” or “effective” beyond any board’s “Standard of Practice” is at the discretion of any singular doctor or hospital alone to decide. As in the case of Dr. Veronikis, any doctor can approach his/her employer and appeal to them that a specific procedure or product used hospital or practice wide is an issue. But again, to do so, can be out of alignment with the accepted boards “Practice Bulletin,” which remember defines the “Standard of Care” for the bulk of doctors. Doctors making decisions outside the “Practice Bulletin” are taking some measure of risk to do so.

There are NO stupid questions! Especially when it comes to demanding answers from your doctor about your treatments.

There are NO stupid questions! Especially when it comes to demanding answers from your doctor about your treatments.

So, the battle for us, as patients and patient advocates, is to know the right questions to ask and to try our best to find out by any means possible:

1) Does our doctor think hard enough about the scientific and engineering questions like if the use of polymers is appropriate in humans at all?

  1. 2) What is the quality and quantity of research available and has my doctor reviewed it?
  2. 3) Was the research conducted according to solid scientific principles (Tier 1 Eithics) and using a diverse population that all demographics including both genders?

It seems to me that this level of participation and education regarding device manufacture and outcomes of procedures is knowledge a bit too in depth to require of any patient. These are complex issues, rigorously debated topics, even amongst scientists, physicians, and now attorneys. To require this amount of knowledge by any patient is quite unrealistic I think, especially since the patient is already ill and dealing with pain and suffering while trying to research and make an informed decision about a life-altering procedure that may be 4-6 hours in the OR for the doctor, but a lifetime of pain and suffering for the patient. All of these issues combined is why I think individual patient advocates and the notion of patient advocacy, as a career, WILL and SHOULD make its way into our healthcare system as an accepted and justified position very soon. My hope is that my work as The Mesh Warrior and as founder of The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured will hasten that day.

Still, Dr. Veronikis says, “The OB/GYN credentialing board is working on these issues, commenting that, “We need to create a fourth subspecialty.”

The board created a subspecialty last year last year for the first time ever. Dr. Veronikis tells me he took the credentialing exam, as did Dr. Tom Margolis of Bay Area Pelvic Surgery. “We passed, but we didn’t need to take it.”


Subspecialties will begin to be more and more required by the board certification authorities within any specialty including female pelvic health. He offers his thoughts about what subspecialties could be credentialed to ensure the right type of specialized physicians are well trained and prepared to perform specialty procedures. He gives some good examples off the top of his head to round out our discussion:

  • Board Specialty in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery with further refinement by also requiring a fellowship in Urogynecology
  • Board Specialty in Robotic Surgery
  • Credentialing by Experience, i.e.
    • How much mesh do you remove?
    • What kind slings do you remove?
    • What is the depth and breadth of your removal experience, etc.




“There is much confusion among the mesh injured about which doctor to go to (besides Dr. Raz of UCLA and yourself) because the cost of the trips is prohibitive for many. Is there any other doctor who you would personally and confidentially recommend for someone in this situation?”

DR. V.:

“The more doctors we can find who do full explants, the more chance there is that woman can afford to travel for surgery. (Author’s note: *See Part I of my interview with Dr. V for two suggestions, Dr. Issac Schiff in Boston, MA and Dr. George McClure in Tacoma, WA)”


“Do you have any recommendations (besides narcotic medication) about how to control/minimize the chronic pain that is so often one of the main complications of mesh implant (could include books, specific doctors or specific therapies)?”

DR. V:

“By far and large, the vast number of patients have the pain cycle stop. Botox to paralyze muscles and nerves. I call the patient’s pain management doctor and tell them why they have pain, and where it is coming from.”


“Have you confirmed any medically-resistant strains of bacterium in women with system infection or localized infection around the mesh?”

DR. V.:

“Removing the mesh is stirring the pot, making it an acute inflammatory response again. Your body recognizes the invader and recruits the immune system response and a brand new immune response begins: macrophages, polymorphonuclear cells, NK – natural killer cells, and these cells release a whole cascade of your body’s own chemicals and starts a whole new war. In this way, the infections leave with the mesh.”


“Have you tested the infection for type of bacterium?”

Dr. V:

“No. After the first surgery, it becomes a real battle with the body. Tissue dies, bacteria feeds on it, then bacteria feeds on the necrosis [dying/dead tissue in the body].”


“Would you be amenable to performing such tests routinely when it is apparent that there is infection? Would you be willing to share your finding informally with me [without patient-identifying information of any kind]? Some in the injured community have been diagnosed with very rare anaerobic bacterial infections, not usually seen at all within the human body. For example, some in our community have been diagnosed with a rare and resistant, but active Actinomycosis bacterial infection.”

(Source added by author:

DR. V.:



A Patient treated by Dr. Veronikis

“I had Dr. Veronikis remove my mesh. He was very rude to my spouse and I at the initial preop consult. He was very arrogant and insisted that he had women much worse off than me. He repeatedly asked my husband what he meant by, “he could feel it.” I understand that my being a nurse he might have thought he didn’t understand anatomy but for lack of a better way to put it that had been his playhouse for 24+- years! He told me he, ” would remove it if I insisted on it but he didn’t see how the mesh could cause what I was describing.” He told me that he refused to do repair w fascia because it shrank up too much and he would have to repair it again. (that was one of the biggest reasons I chose him. That and location.) He said that it would be different if he put mesh in because he would do it right.  He jokingly told my husband he would see if he could tighten things up a bit.  We went back to Haven House and were discussing packing up and going home! I decided since so many arrangements had already been put into motion for this to happen that if he would just remove the mesh I would see if I could find someone more local that will do a fascia repair. The day after surgery he came to discharge me to go home. When he showed me the picture of the mesh he removed he explained the process as follow: “on the right side it was stuck to the pelvic bone and was about like trying to remove bubble gum from the back of a chair you’re sitting in. The left side was the most extensive repair. The mesh was deep into the muscle and nerves to your leg, but basically that means I took care of your pain for you.” I asked him to please email me the picture he had just shown me. He told me that he didn’t want me to post it on the internet because he wouldn’t want anyone to steal his technique.

At that point I just wanted to go home finally mesh free! My mesh was done through my groin instead of suprapubic so this was how he had to remove it. I had 3 stitches vaginally and about a 3-4 inch incision in each groin w about 20 stitches each. But I was mesh free!

I returned for my pistol visit and he was bragging about a website or something he was developing to direct more women to him. I was very rushed w a quick 2 second finger probe and asked if it hurt and not even really given time to answer. He asked if I was leaking and I told him no more than I had prior to surgery. He said, “I didn’t think you would after surgery from me.” Then laughed and asked me if I was a satisfied customer. I very sarcastically said, “I asked you to remove the mesh and you DID REMOVE IT!” Either he didn’t hear or chose to ignore the sarcasm. He told me something about a heart. He told me, “write like your initials and surgery date something to identify you and you can write how much you love me, how I saved your life something like that.” There were a crowd of people in the check out area. I very illegibly scribbled, “thanks for removing my mesh.” Put it in the clear container and left.

I still have SUI but I WILL not have it repaired anytime soon and most definitely not by him! I would like to remain anonymous since my case is still not settled. I spoke with Jane shortly after my surgery and after our conversation she said she was going to remove him from her site. I understand that every case and everyone’s experience is different but this is my story as I lived it.

I just pray one day this whole nightmare will be over, and my body will stop fighting me everytime I get out of bed.”



A Patient Treated by Dr. Veronikis 

Dr. V. does go through many leaps and bounds to remove the poisonous mesh that has ravaged our bodies for years which I’m sure is a very complicated and tedious job for him. He works tirelessly to help us in many ways. He is a very unique doctor that does not give up on removing the most complicated of mesh messes. He removed my mesh when I have had many doctors say that they would not touch me even when it was eroding and plainly needed to come out. I drove from my hometown in Louisiana all the way to St. Louis just to consult with him. Upon consultation with him, I just knew he would be able to remove my mesh! I had lots of faith and the utmost respect for him. I was also having rectal pain and asked him if he thought that it would resolve with mesh removal and he truthfully said “no”. I was not happy with that answer but who would not be?? I needed to come to terms with that answer which I did. It is not Dr. V’s fault that the rectal pain did not resolve and I know that. I can say that he did remove all of my mesh and for that I am very thankful. Yes, I still have the pain but I believe that it is nerve related and am pursuing other avenues with a specialist that deals with the nerves in the pelvic floor area. No, I am not 100% because my pain was not resolved but according to Dr. V. I am mesh free! Everyone has their own opinions on every situation dealing with mesh, I mean look at Dr. V., he still puts it in. God has given us the free will to do what we want and if women want the mesh then it is their decision although I would try to persuade them not to have it done with every caring inch of my heart. Every woman has their own experience with Dr. V., it might not be all rosy but at least he is truthful. I did not like some of the things he said to me on my followup visit but it was the truth and I know that I have to come to terms with that. There is one thing I can say about Dr. V. and it is that he is only HUMAN just like the rest of us. It is okay to tell the truth even if your experience was not a good one. I believe that it is not bashing him but just getting someone else’s perspective on the whole situation. We are all suffering and Dr. V. is our glimmer of hope. My overall experience with Dr. V. is that he tells the truth which we do not want to hear because we just want to hear that we will be whole again which can be impossible for one doctor but at least he was willing to remove my mesh mess so for that I am very thankful. I love all of my mesh sisters! I will always respect those who respect me and others. I believe that we should live by Gods word to be kind to others and live our lives loving others. I always want to find as much information on mesh as possible and that is why I would love to read the Mesh Warrior’s interview with Dr. V. When I was implanted with this disgusting stuff, I did not know a thing about mesh but sure wish I would have done my homework. I trusted my doctor and now my body is ruined. Unfortunately, we have to become our own advocates and do our own research and if it was not for the information from other women on these pages with their stories and information we would be alone in that cold dark place called depression. We could all use more information. I will not give up on my endeavor to become pain free so that my husband could get his wife back and my children can get their mother back! Much love to the Mesh Warrior and to all of the ladies on here! May we all become mesh free and pain free so that we can be free!



  • I know that every person is different, but if there are some conditions which you KNOW will prohibit you from safely attempting an explant, what would those be (e.g. uncontrolled diabetes, etc., etc.)
  • Anecdotally and within the mesh-injured community, it seems to be the consensus that a PARTIAL EXPLANT is MUCH worse than a FULL EXPLANT.  What is your medical opinion on that subject?
  • For full disclosure, are you currently consulting to any of the mesh manufacturers?  If so, which ones and why?
  • How many fellows or residents do you have in training under you, if any?  Given your the as-of-now very uncommon and highly-sought-after expertise for this kind of surgery, many of the mesh-injured fear there are not enough doctors to handle the hoards that coming.


TAKEBACKS: Episode 1/HALLOWEEN – Take back your Family Fun from the grasp of mesh

Hi Angels & Warriors AND Happy Halloween!

I miss you all when I’m not with you. The paperwork and busywork of getting a 501c(3) up-and-running is no easy task. I’m sure many of you know that from your own endeavors of those of friends. As those pieces are slowly but surely checked off the list, I find myself back to writing to you all, my first love. I love connecting with you, even digitally, and I relish in the times I get to meet you. Those meetings always leave me changed in some profound way. I am always grateful for having met an Angel. Somehow, I come away feeling the one who’s been blessed. It is indeed an embarrassment of riches to be so accepted and loved by you. I always want to give something back to you because you all give me so much, just by being who you are. This post is dedicated to my friend Sherri, who absolutely refuses to allow mesh to steal her joy and her daughter’s joy. Sherri, you inspire me, and this post is especially for you (I expect pictures!).


There are two reasons I do what I do as a patient advocate and founder of a nonprofit:

1) For love of my own mother and my own family

2) For love of you

I know, quite personally, the intimate and often intangible moments that mesh steals from our families. Playing in the snow with grandchildren has often become a distant memory, one even painful to try to access. Cooking and gathering around the kitchen to celebrate family traditions like college football gameday, Thanksgiving and so many other special times that are now not possible, and are simple pleasures in life that we see others taking for granted. It can leave us feeling left-out, angry, depressed, envious and simply hopeless on some days.

I understand that feeling, from a family member’s point of view. There are pictures that I come across of my mother and me, those smiling selfies, that were before mesh. I cry. As the holiday season approaches, we are all considering: What do we do NOW? We’ve always done “this” or “that” and now we can’t.

I never ask you to do anything that I am not going to do myself, so I’m asking you to consider the “What ifs?”

What if we did Halloween differently this year, since you maybe can’t take your child door to door candy-hunting?

What if we gave thanks at Thanksgiving in a different way this year? What if we focuses more on thanks and less on turkey?

What if Christmas wasn’t about running a million errands to make sure everything is just perfect (and perfectly stressful)?


Trust me when I say; I am not diminishing what YOU, as a mother or father have lost. I’m not diminishing what your family has lost. My family has lost it too.

I’m suggesting that we look reality in the face and say:

“I don’t like you. I’m going to change the parts of life that I can. I will have a NEW NORMAL in the face of the mesh’s continued greed to steal my joy!”

I’ve always gone trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew on Halloween. I have loved it. I love the suburban-ness of it. Families who know one another from sports, school and the local park getting together, basically to celebrate creativity, child-like wonder, and CANDY! I don’t get to do that this year either.

BUT. . . . We CAN all celebrate creativity! We CAN all celebrate child-like wonder, and we darn-sure all CAN celebrate with CANDY! No one can steal those feelings and little moments of joy from us, even though we are injured, even though our families are in shambles. So, I thought I’d share some ideas with you to help you see the light in the darkness; maybe establish your own NEW TRADITIONS and NEW NORMAL, a new Muse welcomed in, your creative juices a-flowing, your family sharing memorable moments that have been lost in your journey against mesh.

Think about the parts of your personality you’ve never dwelled in, because maybe you’ve been too busy planning, buying and executing the world’s definition of what these traditions should be. My wish for you and yours (and mine) is that you feel the hope building as you read, feel the excitement of creating “the new” and “the possible” for your family, whether you have children or not. I do not have children, and this year, I won’t be able to spend Halloween with my family or trick-or-treating with my niece and nephew, so I’ll post how I’m taking back Halloween too – how I’m creating a NEW NORMAL too! I hope it will give you some motivation and the good spirits to do the same!


Love you all! ~ Aaron



Host THE Halloween Block Party – the one where your children get to answer the door all dressed up in goblin gear and feel like the most special boys and ghouls on the block! 🙂 Instead of you running all over God’s green earth to make Halloween fun; call in those favors, and send your Hairy Husbands; your Scary Sisters-in-Law; your Ghostly Girlfriends; your Unnerving Neighbors; and that Bloodcurdling Boyfriend on the Eerie Errands for the All Hallows Eve party-to-be. Here are some ideas for family fun to dress up your host home for nada lotta:


Black lights in the lamps near your home’s entrance and in the kitchen makes for a fun and eerie atmosphere! You really don’t have to change anything. Just the lighting makes everything mysterious and melodramatic!

A treat of a table - eating candy under the eerie glow of black lighting!

A treat of a table – eating candy under the eerie glow of black lighting!

Even bath time can be a BOO of a good time! 

Black-lit Bath time!

Black-lit Bath time!

If you’re having an especially bad or painful day, you can just unplug the lamps and show your little ghouls how to put the new bulbs in place and watch as they delight in the transformation of your home! It’s a simple way to create a new memorable moment. Keep your camera in hand! I hope you’ll share pictures if you decide to take this idea and run with it!

Garish Garage Door – This one is so fun and easy to supervise. If you have a metal garage or a wood garage with a sealant, this tip won’t ruin your garage door!  garage_door_art

– Buy a few cans of Aqua Net

  • Again, minimally-supervised, but with supervision, watch your kiddos spray Menacing Messages on the garage! Your black lights will come in handy again here, as the hair-raising messages will only show up when a black light is installed. Ladder may be necessary for this one, so have a helpful friend handy for this project.

-Soap and water easily removes the hair spray, or hey, take the black-light down ad leave the message up for next year!

  • Sit with your grand-ghouls or your candy-craving children, and come up with fun scary phrases. Make it educational by teaching them to rhyme or teaching new definitions of words.

Spider Webs are an easy and affordable way to dress-up your entrance, especially if you exchange your regular porch light bulb for a black light! Here is a picture and where you can buy! Don’t go to those overpriced Halloween stores. Got to your local fabric store, like Joann’s Fabrics or Michael’s and buy the kind of stuffing used for pillows, etc. which is easily pulled apart. A couple of plastic spiders and you’re done!

spider_webs spiderweb_entry spiderwebentry_2


PLAY SCARY MOVIES ON ALL THE TVs – Hitchcock black/white movies are just as scary with no sound as are the newer (and often inappropriate for young audiences) movies. Sirius/XM or your local radio station will have spooky music you can play instead of the TVs. That way, it’s spooky in every room!


Alfred Hitchcock Presents!


The one and only real PSYCHO!


Janet Leigh in PSYCHO


James Stewart in VERTIGO




COOKING – easy recipes for kids!

I’ve spoken with many of you who long for the days when you could stand (or sit for that matter) long enough to cook with your children. Here are some easy recipes for Halloween that require minimal supervision and are lots of fun for your little goblins.


Some cashews and a little food coloring go a long way. Enjoy watching your child’s creativity come to life!

Ghost Cookies    

Even cuter in a hollowed-out mini pumpkin!

Even cuter in a hollowed-out mini pumpkin!

-Buy as many packages of Nutter Butters as you can stand!

-Buy white almond bark for melting (over a double boiler)

-Buy a candy fork, as it works best for dipping.

-Buy a package of the mini Hershey’s chocolate chips

-Buy some wax paper

To prepare, heat the white almond bark over a double boiler until melted. Place a cookie sheet coated in wax paper on the cabinet, and get your bowl full of mini chips ready. Use the candy fork to stick into the bottom of your Nutter Butter. Twist the Nutter Butter until it’s fully coated with the white almond bark. Immediately place your coated cookie on top of the wax paper, and while the almond bark is still soft, add two mini chocolate chips for eyes. Voila- Ghost Cookies! Let your kids be creative and make different faces with different candies if you like. 🙂

Halloween Punch that is “hands-on!” Your kiddos will really love this one!  PUNCH

  • Prepare your favorite punch recipe (combining marshmallows and sprite or another soda of your choice will give the foamy, scary look)
  • Buy non-powdered latex gloves, available at your grocer in the aisle where the paper towels, etc. are or sometimes the cleaning supplies aisle.

-Prepare your favorite punch or use Hawaiian Punch or Kool-Aid if you prefer. Put it in a big glass bowl with a ladle or cup for scooping.

  • Fill 4-6 latex gloves with water and freeze them.
  • When you’re ready to serve the punch, remove the frozen “hands” from the freezer. Cut away the latex. Do a quick rinse off, and place the floating hands in the punch bowl!

  • A clear-ish punch using pineapple juice and Sprite means you can make whatever Creepy Colored Punch your little hearts desire!

    A clear-ish punch using pineapple juice and Sprite means you can make whatever Creepy Colored Punch your little hearts desire!

    • As your “ice cold hands” will melt over time, be sure to have back-ups ready, and you may want to make your punch stronger than usual, as the ice will melt and dilute its flavor!

    Dry Ice is usually available during this time at your local adult beverage store, but be sure kids do not touch it. It is very harmful to the skin. If you wish to use it, put it in a second larger bowl, wrapped in a trashbag and cut holes in the trash bag so the magical mist can float out with a safety guard around most of it


    COSTUMES – Stay away from those costly Halloween Stores!

    For Dan & Mom or Grandpa & Grandma

    – Frankenstein & His Bride – usually easily accomplished with colored hairspray and green makeup! Have fun with it! Or, be interpretive and just buy the t-shirt! There is really no wrong way to do this costume!

    bride-of-frankenstein frankenstein_bride nick-lachey-2-6601

    t-shirt-bride t-shirts_frankenstein


    Easy, Affordable Costumes for the Kiddos (from age 1-92)

    Pea-sized Peacock – So sweet! A little peacock is easy to make with a turquoise onesie, orange tights and peacock feathers, usually sold at the fabric store or craft store!


    Cowgirl/Cowboy – All the necessary components are easy to find a resale shops, Salvation Army or other shops (I like to call them “junkin” shops!

    Texas, Texas - YEEHAW!

    Texas, Texas – YEEHAW!

    Google Maps! For Mom & Dad or Teen Couples with younger siblings to delight! Easy to make with cardboard, headbands, a color printer, and an old t-shirt. 🙂

    Google Maps - Routes A and B!


    Pre-teen or Teen girls who like to do EVERYTHING together! Uh, duh, Mom!

    Jelly Bellies!  Pre-teen or Teen girls who like to do EVERYTHING together! Uh, duh, Mom!


    TEENS LOVE THIS ONE since it's a recent movie and a little edgy. :)

    THE IDENTITY THIEF – TEENS LOVE THIS ONE since it’s a recent movie and a little edgy. 🙂

    Baron & Budd Proud to Support The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the Injured

    I’m very grateful to the law firm of Baron & Budd for giving of their time, talents, service and finances to help The Mesh Warrior Foundation, which started as a simple blog to find community for the hurting, my family included.

    The Foundation has its own website, apart from my blog here. Visit to get involved or see what we’ve been up to lately!

    So many shattered paradigms, as a result of being dragged through Mesh Hell, and the bright spot: Lawyers, yep, lawyers.

    Thank you Baron & Budd. You do protect what’s right – you really do.

    Baron & Budd Proud to Support The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the Injured.

    Why I Don’t Ask “Why?” Anymore via Baron Budd

    I am deeply grateful to Baron Budd for giving me a broader and larger platform to tell my story. I am honored to be part of their mission. They are good people who want the same things we, the mesh-injured and our families wan’t. I am truly grateful for their support of our mission at The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured, and I am profoundly changed by their grand influence in my life and the lives of so many.

    I invite you all to read my latest blog via Baron Budd & tell me what you think:

    I am grateful that they allow me to share my voice, as it is, as I feel. This is simply where I am today: one daughter in one situation, in the struggle to understand the harm that has been done to each of us and our great American “civil” and “just” society:

    Read more here: via Baron Budd

    I still look up. I just ask different questions now.