At this point, I was already past my expiration date, so to speak.  While it was wonderful that I was still chugging along, disease was also still chugging along, despite thousands of dollars, my best research, and others’ best attempts.  By now I had developed a condition called malignant ascites.

“Malignant ascites can occur in patients with colon, pancreatic, breast, and lung primaries with the development of peritoneal carcinomatosis.202 The life expectancy of such patients is generally limited to weeks to months after the onset of ascites. Of the three major complications of liver cirrhosis—hepatic encephalopathy, ascites, and variceal hemorrhage—ascites is the most common.203 The development of ascites in the natural history of chronic liver disease in the absence of malignancy is an important landmark as approximately 50% of patients with ascites succumb in 2 years.204  (Holland-Frei Cancer Medicine. 6th Edition. Kufe DW, Pollock RE, Weichselbaum RR, et al., editors. Hamilton [ON]: BC Decker; 2003.)

As you can see, this is considered a very end-stage process.  I was looking like I was six months pregnant by this time but without the hormone cascade to handle it.  Wow, how can I begin to tell you what ascites feels like?  For me, it involved about seven litres of fluid all compressed in a small-framed abdominal cavity, squishing all my organs and pressing everything upward.  Aches, pains … like a pregnant woman in her last month, but no baby … just cancer juice.  Acid reflux was constant, and my appetite started to dwindle.  Where before I was miserable at family functions because there was so much I wanted to eat and couldn’t, now there was so much to eat but I didn’t want it.  Now, the mainstream medical world will put you on proton pump inhibitors and all sorts of nasty things to stop heartburn.  But honestly, it is more of a lack of acid than an overabundance of it.  I know it sounds weird, but there is a lot of data out there to support that and any natural medicine practitioner will tell you the same.  If you can possibly help it, do not take the drugs for heartburn.  A better solution is betaine hydrochloride or any of the plethora of natural acid relief products out there.

What used to be a navel is now a dent

At this point, however, I had no choice.  That esophageal acid irritation is dangerous too and I had to stop it.  Plus I really didn’t want to eat with all that fire in there.  So Pepcid became my new buddy.  Here is where it gets challenging.  My head knew that Pepcid wasn’t in my best interest, but my body was miserable and I was really worried about my esophagus.  I had to sleep on an incline because I would wake up choking on bile in the night.  So yeah, sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do and just be OK with it. I’ve learned so much about that particular attitude.

Those of you who know me know I used to be really rigid.  So when I was having to use something I knew wasn’t “good” for me, everything in me resisted even though I was doing it.  At this point, I was starting to feel like one of those clown punching bags.  You know, the kind us boomers used to have as kids that you could wallop.  They’d fall down and bounce right back up.  Well that was me.  I kept getting bad news after bad news after bad news and kept bouncing right back up again.  I just needed a break in the action so I could catch my breath.  I just had no relief.  I was having labs done every month and the numbers kept rising and rising, telling me that every pill I swallowed was a waste of time.  Vincent kept telling me to be patient and not be hasty because, after all, I should’ve been dead and I wasn’t.  But after a year or so, and no measurable results, I was getting quite restless and anxious.  Vincent can tell you that … I drove him crazy!

All while I was seeing Vincent, I had discovered a wonderful massage therapist who was also a Reiki master.  I had never heard of energy work or Reiki at all.  I had gone to the massage therapist because of some immobility from a previously broken collarbone.  My shoulder was all frozen and full of knots, so we worked together for quite some time.  During that time, we talked about many things, the most of which was energy.  I had always been curious about why people believed what they believed anyway, and seeing that many Christians are real leery of anything that isn’t specified in the Bible, I hadn’t heard much about it.

This was the next piece of the puzzle for me.  And so cool how it came about.  I was seeking relief from my shoulder pain and I typically look out in town (as opposed to on the military base) for them because military bases typically don’t have massage therapists.  But this one did.  I only found them because I googled massage therapists in my area.  This one came up with a base phone number, so of course, closer is better.  I called and that was that.  For some reason. Vandenberg had contracted for masseuses there.  And that masseuse changed my life.  Did you know that, Louis?  You changed my life, dude!

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