There are few regrets I have in life. One of them is choosing the option of implants for reconstruction after my breast cancer. I researched as best I could at the time, but honestly, I didn’t know nearly enough to make an educated decision. Looking back, knowing what I know now, I would have never chosen that option.
After my mastectomy, I chose to have a silicone implant put in for reconstruction. For various reasons, that surgery took place almost two years after my mastectomy. Three years later, when my younger son had weaned, I decided that something needed to be done about the vast difference I saw looking down at my chest. I chose to get another implant on the left side to even things out and make the left match the right. That’s when my health took another plunge and my body revolted.
About two months after I had the surgery for the second implant, my health declined. I was tired! After listing a myriad of symptoms to my family doctor, he suspected a low thyroid. Blood tests confirmed what he suspected and I was put on a natural thyroid medication.
Over the next two years, my symptoms spiraled downward. The unrelenting fatigue was overwhelming. Everyday tasks were laborious. One outing such as grocery shopping would put me out of commission for the day… and the next. It was hard getting anything accomplished.
My doctor (he’s my cardiologist as well, however, I call him my holistic preventative doctor) had been keeping an eye on my heart along with up to date blood tests, scans, screenings for cancer, and other illnesses. When I told him about the thyroid and other symptoms that were starting he did a full blood panel.
Some of my symptoms:
- brain fog
- muscle pain
- muscle weakness
- hormone imbalance
- hair loss
- extreme fatigue
- memory loss
- speech problems – mixing up words when I would read out loud
- joint pain
- numbness in my feet
- chest pain/heaviness
- urinary tract infections
- compromised immune system – prolonged recovery from simple illness
- sensitivities to light, noise, cigarette smoke, chemical perfumes and scents
- night sweats
- panic attack
My blood tests confirmed those symptoms and I was testing positive for:
- H. Pylori
- Lyme Disease
- Epstein Barr Virus was active and chronic
- other viruses and bacterial infections
These were just the most prevalent symptoms. There were others. While most of these symptoms could be indicative of Lyme Disease, we started treating that. I went through multiple rounds of antibiotics and doubled my immune boosting IV’s. After several months, my symptoms did not relent. In fact, they were getting worse. I traveled out of state to find a LLMD (Lyme Literate doctor) that specializes in Lyme Disease. I started on different supplements and protocols, but after prolonged treatment, my blood work did not change. Something was preventing me from getting well.
Frustrated, one day I just searched online a bunch of symptoms to see if there was any correlation to anything we had been missing. The one thing I had feared, but it was always in the back of my mind – I had a nagging feeling that it was my implants that were contributing to my ailing health. I had finally typed in the right combination of symptoms. What was staring me back from the screen?
My mission shifted to now getting these implants removed as quickly as possible. I researched day and night. Finding a doctor to remove them enbloc was not as easy as it sounds. Enbloc means that they remove the entire implant intact. It requires a vascular plastic surgeon skilled in this type of procedure. It is absolutely crucial that implants be removed this way, otherwise they can make you sick systemically. My plastic surgeon that I had been seeing was not skilled in this area. In fact, I had to travel out of state for this next surgery. When making my initial consultation visit, the nurse read off a questionnaire. I answered “yes” to every question. After about 25 questions, she paused and said, “I think we’ll stop there. I’ve never had anyone answer yes to EVERY question. You definitely have silicone poisoning. Let’s get you scheduled for a visit with the doctor.”
I had the implants removed about three months later. While I’d like to say that was the end of my illness, sadly, I cannot. My health drastically improved immediately afterward, however, there were many symptoms that have never fully recovered.
So this is my PSA for the day: If you or anyone you love is considering implants of any kind (because the saline implants can still cause silicone poisoning), please, PLEASE, reconsider. Will they make everyone sick? No, of course not. Could it happen to you? Yes. Do you want to take a chance? There is much more to my story and I am willing to share. Today, you got the abbreviated version. I am willing to talk to anyone considering this and share what I’ve learned. It’s a topic not often talked about when women are diagnosed with breast cancer. At diagnosis, women are overwhelmed and bombarded with new information left and right. It’s not a decision that even needs to get made at the time of mastectomy. You can wait. If you want to talk more, please reach out. I’m serious.