My Breast Implant Illness Story
When I was growing up I absolutely loved the show, Baywatch. I looked forward to it every week and it wasn’t long before I aspired to look like the female lifeguards, Pamela Anderson in particular. As cringe worthy as this is, I remember announcing to my friends when I was only 10 years old that I was going to have boobs like her!
18 years later my childhood dreams came true and I had my very own insanely large breasts. The only thing that changed in my goal was I walked in the plastic surgeon’s office with a photo of Carmen Electra for reference and not Pam Anderson. During my consultation we decided on 475cc saline implants. My goal was to put back what breastfeeding took away. The surgery was a breeze and I’m not going to lie, I loved them. My clothes fit differently and I had a newfound sense of confidence.
You would think that I would have stopped there but unfortunately only four years after getting my first set of implants I was ready for an upgrade. I went in with a GO BIG OR GO HOME mindset and maxed my implants out at 800cc. For reference, my bra size was a 32GG. (Insert eye roll and forehead smack) I also went with silicone this time for a more realistic feel. If I’m being honest there was absolutely NOTHING realistic about them.
Seemingly everything was so good. I was in the best shape of my life, I had the breasts I always wanted and I was recently married to the man I had a crush on forever. We bought a house, were expecting a child and were blending our families. My daughter Kiley, and his 3 little dogs. Everyone was adjusting to their new surroundings.
My pregnancy this time was nothing like it was when I was carrying Kiley. I was sick every day. Horribly sick and nothing would help me. When the baby arrived it was worse but it was so easy to pass my symptoms off as “normal” since I had a c-section.
About a year after my daughter was born I woke up one morning and was convinced I was dying. I felt like I was trapped in someone else’s body. I would experience violent bursts of vomiting. I had diarrhea no matter how clean I was eating. I had no strength left in my hands.I couldn’t grip my toothbrush properly, and forget about opening up a jar. My thick hair, the hair I always got compliments on was coming out in clumps. I had eczema all over my hands, horrible headaches, blurry vision, brain fog so bad I had to keep a journal because I was unable to hold onto my thoughts and complete tasks, my joint pain that was indescribable, my nails were weak, my teeth were crumbling, my skin was awful and my anxiety was through the roof! Honestly the anxiety was the only thing that wasn’t concerning to me. I knew why I was anxious, I had a whole host of unexplained ailments happening to me.
When I went to the doctor, every other symptom was ignored and anxiety was the one that was focused on. Everything I was experiencing was blamed on the anxiety so I was told I needed an antidepressant.I argued that I was in fact NOT depressed and I was dismissed with a script in my hand that I refused to take.
I found another doctor who ran a bunch of tests. Tests I really couldn’t afford at the time but I was so excited because I thought I would finally get some answers. To me that was well worth the thousands of dollars my insurance coverage didn’t cover. When it was time for my follow up appointment, I woke up that morning sick as usual only this time I was so eager to get to my appointment and know what the heck was going on I didn’t let it get me down.
“Everything looks fine” he said “there’s nothing wrong with you”. He also strongly suggested that even though Rheumatoid Arthritis didn’t show up on the tests he insisted I I must have it, so he diagnosed me with it and told me my treatment plan was the following: I start taking Methotrexate, along with Percocet and Lexapro for the postpartum depression he also said I had. All three of those drugs he wanted me to take long term. All 3 have a BLACK BOX WARNING. (If you don’t know what that is it’s the highest safety-related warning that medications can have assigned and in my opinion should be avoided at all cost)
“I’m not depressed” I told him. He responded, “I think you’re so depressed, you can’t see you’re depressed, that’s how depression works.” I stood up crying and said, “I’m NOT depressed, I’m sick and just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not true!“
I got no response. He thought I was crazy. My appointment was over and I felt worse than ever.
I was so deflated walking to the car holding my scripts in my hands. I couldn’t see straight because my eyes were full of tears.
I had a 30 minute drive home and I’m not going to lie,I felt pretty bad for myself. I knew I wasn’t taking any of the medications prescribed for me and I decided when I got home I would find a way to live with what I was experiencing and just deal with it.
That same night, I was laying next to my husband, scrolling YouTube, and a video popped up by a woman named Karissa Pukas who was sharing her story all about her experience with Breast Implant Illness, BII for short. I popped up in bed and said, “this is what I have!” My husband thought I was grasping at straws and honestly so did a lot of other people. Some people thought I just wanted to be sick. Some thought I was crazy. Some thought I would miss my implants and I’ll never forget one of my best friends at the time saying, “even if they are making you sick, you’re going to hate the way your chest looks when you take them out so I don’t know if it’s even worth it.”
I followed my gut and went ahead with removing them! Breast Implant Illness is exactly what I had. I walked into the operating room feeling like I was knocking on death’s door and I woke up feeling like a new woman. Instantly over half of my symptoms were gone. It was the hardest and longest recovery of any surgery I ever had but every day I kept getting better and better. Detoxing from something like that is very difficult, I’m still healing from it all but I’m in such a healthier place than I was.
I had what’s called a silent rupture. It’s silent because you cannot see from the outside that it happened. My less than 4 year old, 800cc silicone breast implant had someone broken open inside of me leaching silicone all on my right side. I was being poisoned from the inside out and my body was shutting down trying to fight it.
Be. Your. Own. Advocate. Don’t let anyone make you to feel crazy. Do your research and know that just because you didn’t go to medical school, doesn’t mean you don’t know your own body better than a doctor! You have one life to live and if I would have listened to Dr. Stubborn, I wouldn’t be sharing my story today!
By the way I called the doctor’s office that diagnosed me with RA numerous times to let him know what I had and I was not only denied another appointment, he refused to call me back. I simply wanted him to know what I had, so he wouldn’t make the same mistake with another patient. I wasn’t given that chance, and it’s something to this day that bothers me.
If you have any questions or think you are experiencing Breast Implant Illness feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]