She’s a Survivor // Breast Implant Illness

Today, I am so inspired and proud to welcome my mom as my first guest blogger. She is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known and her journey hasn’t been an easy one. Here is her story:

I’m a Survivor // My Breast Implant Illness Story 

Who decides at 50 that is finally the right time to get the breast implants that you’ve always wanted? This girl. To be fair, breast feeding had long ago proved that small breasts do in fact sag, being an empty nester was right around the corner, and I did just have a large cyst removed from my left breast (it was not cancerous, thank God). But my daughters wedding was coming up and shopping for “Mother of the Bride” dresses made me want to cry in the “my body really sucks” kind of way. My thoughts were this, “hey I’m healthy, I work out hard to keep my body in shape, and after 23 years of devoting my life to my kids and hubby…I’m finally okay with deciding to do something for myself.” Who knew it would be the absolute worst decision of my life. 

I had my Mentor Memory Gel Silicone Breast Implants in for 3 1/2 years. My symptoms started with brain fog, joint aches, hair loss, & insomnia. All things that could be easily explained away as “just getting older”. Within 4 months of getting my implants in, my sinuses were so bad that I needed sinus surgery. A year after that I got fibroids that were so painful, I needed a full hysterectomy. My pathology report said – endometriosis on both ovaries, my uterus was filled with fibroids, & my cervix was filled with cysts. Then, eight months after that, my body completely crashed in a way that’s almost unexplainable. I felt like I was dying. Like all of my body was completely shutting down. My brain felt like it was mush. I felt like all my vital functions had been put into a low “stand by” mode. I felt completely trapped in a body and brain that no longer worked. The weirdest part was, I felt zero emotions about anything. Those were gone too. Physically, I couldn’t leave my house much and I spent most of my days in bed. Mentally, I was really scared and struggling. I was nauseous, I struggled to breathe, I felt like I couldn’t handle lights, noises, or stressors of any kind. If I tried to do things like visit my grand kids, I would feel my body crash into this type of exhaustion that was beyond anything I’ve been able to put into words. Clinically, my blood pressure was running dangerously low – 47/67. I found out my cortisol/cortisone levels had dropped to just above zero, which explained so much of what I was experiencing. When your adrenals are that low, it’s tough for your body to maintain all of its functions so your body actually does shuts itself down to a type of hibernation state. It does that so it can focus on the most important functions needed to keep you alive, which left me in a body that struggled with maintaining things like my hormones, thyroid, digestive functions, regulating body temperature, and even just staying awake. My brain was so dysfunctional that I was unable to read. My clinical diagnosis at the time of my crash was stage 4 Adrenal Failure / Addisons Disease. After thinking long and hard about it, my decision was to not follow the medical doctors advice to go on the standard treatment – Hydrocortisone. Mainly because of the long term really bad side effects that case with it. I had already spent 10 year of my life (throughout my 20’s) watching my mom slowly die from complications from kidney disease. I was now just three years older than she was when she died and I didn’t want to eventually go what she went through. I wanted to try alternative medicine first to see if I could find the root cause of my rapidly declining health. My biggest obstacle was that my brain just didn’t function properly.

So after doing research for me, my daughter Taylor found a D.O. for me that practiced Functional Medicine and specialized in Adrenal Failure. This new doctor started me on weekly high dose IV vitamins and glutathione for 6 weeks, while she ran lots of test trying to find my root cause. Sure enough, just as she suspected, I tested high for Mercury. High mercury levels made sense because too much mercury can wreak havoc on your endocrine system (adrenals, thyroid, hormones). But what was really strange was that I tested high for lots of other weird toxins/heavy metals too…like lead, antimony, arsenic, cesium, cadmium, barium, thallium, & tin. What was that all about? Where did they come from? 

After building and restoring my body up with the weekly vitamin IVs, my next step was weekly IV chelation (which is a way to detox those heavy metals). She warned me that I would experience bad symptoms and I hung in there for 3 weeks until I completely crashed again. Only this time, I could tell it was so much worse. Worried, my doctor checked my liver and kidney function levels, which lead her to find that my kidney’s were in stage 3 renal failure. She panicked and then I panicked. We needed to support my kidneys and get this turned around without it getting worse. She told me that she hadn’t seen this reaction in the 17 years that she’s been practicing. Great, lucky me. Thank goodness within a month we were able to get my kidneys functioning at normal levels again. My doctor was puzzled as to why that had happened to me and how to move forward in treating me. Which meant that I was still left living in this ultra low functioning body that I was convinced hated me…and let’s be honest, I didn’t like it much anymore either! 

Now rewind about 7 months to when I first crashed, my life long bestie, Pegi, had started sending me these links and articles talking about Breast Implant Illness (BII). At the time, I just laughed them off. I mean, if my implants were not safe wouldn’t I have heard about it before? Wouldn’t I have been given this important information or been asked to sign some kind of warning before I got my implants? They’ve been around for over 30 years. Not knowing where to turn, my daughter started researching. Her research lead her to this fb group about BII. She started reading and so much of it made sense. At my next doctors appt, my hubby ran the possibility of it being my implants by my doctor. Her response was…”can you find out what they are made of & let me know?” The next day Tay found my implant information and looked online to find out what was in them. The list of chemicals was long and scary. She grabbed my heavy metal test results and I think she stopped breathing for a minute as the look on her face read…panic. Sure enough, my test results matched identical to the heavy metals in my implants. And not just similar, I mean an exact match!!! So were they leaking and I didn’t know it? I immediately called my doctor and her response was…”OMG, that makes sooo much sense. You can’t chelate a body without removing the source first or you’ll only pull the toxins into your blood stream and eventually it will be to much for your body to handle.” Whatttttt? Had we finally found the answer? Ironically enough, my left breast had been hurting for months now. So much so that I could not hold my 2 month old granddaughter on my left side because of the pain. Compared to every other symptom I lived with, I really didn’t give it much thought before now. Then, I had my hubby look at my left breast and his eyes popped. It’s shape had changed and it had a pocket of what looked like fluid. Okay, now I was kind of in panic mode. Were my implants leaking and were they trying to kill me? 

Fast forward through the crazy 3 weeks it took to find the right surgeon to take my implants out with my capsules intact (to avoid further toxins entering my body) & here I am 14 days post explant. My doctor was able to remove my right breast in tack, but my left breast had formed scar tissue that had traveled through my ribs and attached to my lungs. So he had to leave about 10 % of the scar tissue in there because being attached to my lung, it was too risky to try and remove it.

So here’s my truth. From the moment I woke up from my explant surgery my brain fog was 70% better and I could breathe again. I hadn’t realized because it happened so slowly over time, but it was getting really hard to breathe in a full breath. I felt alive again, like someone turned on the lights for me and I could breathe deeply again. On the way home from surgery my hubby took a picture of me asleep. He showed me and we were both in awe, my color was back. I was olive skinned again and not pale white/grey. My joint pain is all gone. So much inflammation I had in my face and my entire body is gone. I’m not loosing my hair anymore. And most importantly, I haven’t felt any of the intensely debilitating symptoms of my Adrenal Fatigue. I can read and understand again!! I can tell I have some detoxing to do to fully regain my health, but I finally feel like I’m on the road to recovery!! And I have hope again!! I fully expect to make a full recovery within a year and be back to working out and living the active lifestyle that I once enjoyed, and honestly took for granted. 

It’s funny how being sooo sick for so long can give you a whole new perspective on life. My face and body has aged greatly in the past year and 1/2 and I’m back to the ittty bitty club (only now with a whole lot more scars on them), but I couldn’t care less! I’m sooo grateful to have finally found the answers. I’m able to travel on the road to recovery and I don’t even mind that the doctors say it’s going to be a long road with ups and downs along the way. I’m just happy to be one it and looking forward to all the tomorrows ahead! 🙏🏻💗

I wanted to share my story with you, because looking back, I sure wish I had heard my story or the thousands of other stories I’ve heard, before I decided to get my breast implants. So if you, your daughter, family member, or friend are thinking about breast implants…or maybe experiencing symptoms and just want to find out more about BII, here’s a link to the group of ladies that helped save my life. You might be surprised to know that there’s over 84,000 women from around the world in this group and their hash tag is “The heal is real” #thehealisreal. Breast Implant Illness is real, and I am here for you. – Deb Dooley

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