My Story: Breast Implant Illness

June 19, 2019

Last year I started having rapid heart palpitations. Alongside chest pain, I decided to book an explant consultation with a local plastic surgeon recommended by a good friend who also explanted with him. I explained that since my surgery in 2003, I’ve had numbness, swelling and pain. The chest pressure had become uncomfortable for months and I wanted to discuss options.

We talked about explanting. We talked about risks and the reality of being left with small, deflated breasts when I awoke from surgery. I sat there nervous, anxious, ready-but-not-ready to see this through.

When my husband and I left the doctor’s office, we sat in the car and I started to cry. In the past he jokingly said my implants would need to be replaced one day (and I should go bigger!) He also discussed possibilities of upgrading to ‘better implants’ that were ‘lifetime guaranteed’ (both are not possible).

I was mad.

I was mad because I felt my pain didn’t matter. I was mad because I never encouraged him to mutilate his body to satisfy my attraction to him. I was mad because when the surgeon said he could drain my implants that day, suddenly my courage subsided.

I was scared.

As much as I didn’t like getting a breast augmentation (for competitive purposes) years ago, as much pain they caused me or how uncomfortable it made me feel – they had become a part of me. I was scared of the change, scared of my husband finding me unattractive, scared of my swimsuits not fitting and scared of the risks involved in any surgery.

So I waited.

I saw a physical therapist who massaged my scar tissue, which relieved my immediate chest pain. I filmed a LIVE video talking about breast implant illness with my good friend Sandra Augustin, while denying I had any present symptoms of it myself.

For years I dealt with joint pain, chronic fatigue, adult acne, unexplained weight gain and brain fog. For years I wrapped my tender wrists while training or attributed my ankle and shoulder pain to muscle imbalances from an old injury in my twenties. Every month I added to my list of food intolerances and even created a belly ball to overcome my bloating and digestive issues. I thought it was normal to take regular naps from exhaustion or wake up feeling unrested after 8hrs of sleep.

I normalized the pain. Despite being a “No Excuses” person, I made excuse, after excuse, after excuse – why I was always tired, why I felt ok with chest pain, why so many had BII symptoms, except for me.

You can make excuses, until you can’t anymore.

I announced my issues on my social media a few days ago. I knew by ‘putting it out there’ it would not only help women dealing with similar symptoms, but also help me find a community of people who overcame this illness. I knew because of my blood clotting disorder (Vons Willebrans) that I would never do regular maintenance on my boobs. I knew that silicone, even if it’s just a shell with saline inside, was toxic – and that my body was fighting this foreign object, out. I knew it was better to do this while young and relatively healthy.

I know better so it was time to do better.

As I cried in the car after our first appointment, I wasn’t mad at my husband. I knew he would love me regardless. I was mad at myself…for caring what he thought or (still) caring about how I externally looked.

One year later I came back to my surgeon’s office. This time I put a deposit. I set a date. And it’s getting done. Wish me luck.

I wish I could tell my 23-year old self, you ARE enough. I had 225cc saline implants placed underneath the muscles. For those who think saline is safer, it is, however, the shell is made out of silicone – which is toxic to the body.
This picture was taken 4 months after my breast augmentation. The day after my surgery I had a hematoma (internal bleeding), I lost my period two months after for two years. I became depressed and was a binge eater for years after. Removing my implants feels like stepping forward to woman I am TODAY and letting go of the insecure woman I was then.
I began my journey towards Body Positivity and self-love in 2005 after gaining 30lbs as a result of my binge eating. I love this picture taken in 2013. It proudly shows my excess skin after having kids. I knew I would eventually remove my implants and encourage others to do it while they are still young (and can heal faster!) I wrote about my breast implants when I kept getting questions from moms in 2013.
I love this image with Sandra Augustin. She was a trailblazer for me in educating me about BII. She endured multiple breast surgeries and ended up explanting a couple years ago. Her inflammation went down, joint issues declined and she lost a lot of weight (I thought she gained weight due to menopause!) Special shout out to Kim DeLorenzo, a FB friend, who I also saw raising awareness of BII from afar.
I created the first massage ball for the tummy, the Flat Belly Ball, because I struggled with so much bloat. My food intolerance kept increasing every year. I realized this idea in 2012, sold out of my first version and filmed my first infomercial (seen here) this year. While it hurt being in constant pain, I am thankful I was able to create this short term solution for relief so I was able to deal with bloating, cramps and constipation.
This was my breaking point. For months I woke up and once I hit the floor my feet hurt when walking (like pins and needles). I was always tired, inflamed and suffered from chronic fatigue the last month (which showed low iron levels despite no change in my diet). I realized I couldn’t do this anymore. I wanted to be awake and present to truly experience LIFE. God Bless all of you who are struggling with pain or the hard decision to explant.

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