Do I have breast implant illness? This is a question I've asked myself a thousand times since learning about it in 2019.
I got breast implants in 2012 after getting divorced. You can read every post in my mommy makeover series here.
I loved having implants even though I started having complications within a few months. The first thing I noticed was a ripping and burning feeling when I would do a pull-up. It almost felt like my implant was going to bust out of its pocket. I didn't worry much about it and decided to stop doing any exercises that caused discomfort.
Last year my friend Stacy added me to a group for women suffering from breast implant illness, and I cried for hours after reading their stories. I knew I wasn't crazy. These women were all experiencing the same things I am.
Breast Implant Illness Symptoms I've Experienced:
Below I will share the symptoms I started experiencing over the last few years.
- Increased Migraines & Sinus Headaches (Hospitalizations Required)
- Diagnosed with Chronic Sinusitis
- Unexplained weight gain
- Night Sweats
- Hormonal Issues
- Started getting dark brown patches on my face (had them removed by a dermatologist)
- Petechiae appeared on my trunk (small red blood blister looking spots)
- Night Sweats
- Bladder incontinence
- Constant shoulder pain (My trapezius muscles are huge)
I started having terrible migraines. I've always had migraines, but these were different. I went to an allergist, and she ordered an MRI. I learned I have both hydrocephalus and chronic sinusitis. The first day of my period has become so heavy I try not to leave the house. Tried progesterone cream hoping it would help. It seemed to at first and then my hormones seemed to go crazy so I stopped. During this time I feel like I went to the doctor non-stop trying to figure out why I was gaining weight so easily and struggling so much. I had my thyroid tested, cholesterol, and everything else I could think of. Nothing helped until I started keto. That seemed to give me some relief for about three years.
- Yo-yo weight gain and loss
- Binge eating
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Premature aging
- ADHD Diagnosis (Started meds)
- Lack of motivation
- Edema (face, hands, legs)
- Sensitivity to foods that never bothered me before
- Constipation (never had this problem)
- Vision loss overnight and dry eyes (explained below)
- Purple, blue, and white hands and feet
- Severe temperature intolerance (explained below)
- Chronic fatigue (2 weeks out of the month I have to nap every day)
- Brain fog, memory loss, difficulty concentrating
- Slurred speech
- Not recovering as quickly after exercises (unless I take a supplement that helps people with autoimmune disorders recover)
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes
- Terrible BO two weeks of the month
- Breast pain
- Changes in smell (I can smell metal on people's breath)
- Restless leg syndrome
The past two years were when my symptoms grew to the point where I started researching my issues non-stop. Everything always came back as an auto-immune disorder. Nothing made sense to me, and I couldn't understand why my life had become such a struggle. I work out, I try to stay as healthy as possible, yet nothing was helping me.
My husband always said I was just getting older, but being in your thirties shouldn't cause your body to go downhill so quickly.
Many of my cognitive issues made ADHD look like the answer to most of my problems. What didn't make sense was that I hadn't struggled like this since going through puberty.
Losing things have become a part of life for me. I can't remember conversations I've had in the past two weeks. Wanting to work and actually getting things done doesn't connect. I am easily distracted . My stimulant meds are as high as I can go, and they are no longer helping.
The two most glaring issues that set my mind at ease in regards to breast implant illness and the likelihood that I have are my vison loss and sensitivity to cold foods.
Denial Isn't An Option
These two things can not be explained away. One day my vision was fine and the next I couldn't see. I drove my kids to Carowinds in 2018 and had no problem getting there. On the way back home I couldn't read the road signs or the plate on the car in front of me because everything was so fuzzy. I got home and could no longer read digital numbers (clocks) or the TV Guide on the TV. Some colors are better (so if the numbers are in blue, it is better than when they are in green). This baffles me.
The second issue is eating cold foods. I love (or loved) yogurt and frozen fruit. Now, if I eat either of these, I instinctively (meaning, I don't even think about what I'm doing) get into a hot bath right after eating. My internal temperature is so cold I can hardly stand it. As someone who is addicted to ice cream, I can tell you that this is not normal for me. This is a new issue.
Another thing I want to share is about my incontinence. Women who've had children are no stranger to peeing a little when they laugh or cough, but my issues beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The week before my period, I can just think I have to pee, and I do. It's nothing massive, but it's enough to be concerned. The week after, the act of needing to pee and walking can cause constant leakage. This is more concerning for me because it's pretty embarrassing.
The Last Straw:
In February of 2020, I started working for Pepsi. In just a few weeks my hands were swelling so bad in my sleep that I'd awake to hand numbness that lasted for thirty minutes. I also had shoulder pain that would not go away.
I went to urgent care and learned that I had carpal tunnel. They took a chest X-ray and when I got the results this is what I saw.
The image above is what finally convinced me to move forward with this surgery. I had a feeling I had capsular contracture, and this image sealed the deal. The pain I have been experiencing is most likely due to the scar tissue and possible slow leak of saline. I should know more after my surgery.
Time For Surgery:
I had called a surgeon on the recommended en bloc list in 2019 and had my consult with Dr. Stanwix last month.
I scheduled an en bloc with a fat transfer on September 21st, and I can't wait. I'll share more about my experience in future posts.
If you are considering implants, please do your research. If you have implants and your health is suffering, join Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole on Facebook. I honestly can't wait to get these implants out of my body.
I hope by sharing my experience that you can find the information and healing you need.