We have dedicated Today as
Breast Implant Survivors Day
I had small breasts. I didn't like to dress in front of others in the locker room and my older sisters would tease me and say "After God gave us our breasts, there was nothing left for you".
At 26 I was married to a wonderful man who loved my small breasts. I was always busy teaching high school during the day and college courses at night. After having and nursing two babies at age 34 I decided that I wanted to look better in the clothes that I wore. I was shaped like a pear…small top, large around the tummy and hips.
I thought that breast implants might give me the proportion I was looking for.
During the consultation I was assured that these would be with me for life. Only a truck running over my chest might rupture the implants.
I don't believe the doctor was lying to me. I believe this is the information he was given from the company that made the implants. In November 1987 I got my silicone implants.
It is difficult to say when my health problems began and which were specifically related to the implants. I didn't have any local problems. My implants were soft and many people including doctors, friends and family didn't realize that I had implants. I didn't get particularly large implants because I only wanted a shape.
In 1992 when the scare about silicone implants came out, I only vaguely paid attention but preferred to keep my head in the sand because my implants had to be "fine."
I had always had seasonal allergies but my allergies began to get
worse. I began to have a constant cough and finally had sinus surgery to see if it might help the numerous sinus infections that I seemed to have all the time.
In about 1997 I began to have problems with pain in my joints.
I thought it was osteoarthritis, which runs in my family, but I was only 44 years old. I took a bad fall and after arthroscopic surgery on my knee the surgeon said he was concerned with how much deterioration he found in the joint. 2 years later I had to repeat the surgery because of increased pain.
2004 I was having shoulder problems and after lifting, I tore my rotator cuff. The surgical report said they also had to remove a bone spur and arthritis debris.
Because of my continued and increasing pain in my joints I joined a health club and began going to a water aerobics class 5 days per week.
Three months later, I developed a rash over my entire body within 3 hours after I left the pool. After several visits to dermatologists, they determined it was chemical sensitivity to the pool chemicals. I still tried to walk for exercise and found an outdoor pool open in the summer where I could work out that didn't have as many chemicals.
September 2006: My GYN discovered that the lining of my uterus was too thick and I had large fibroids. These needed to be observed because this shouldn't be happening after menopause.
By November of 2006, I was unable to walk 1 mile without having serious pain in my knees, hips and back. I became increasingly fatigued. I finally went to my doctor to see what could be done. After blood tests he told me I had a positive ANA and a high Anti-DNA double strand test. He told me this is often a sign of the autoimmune disease Lupus and he sent me to a Rheumatologist. Tests were repeated, I was observed. All still the same results.
April 2007: I developed a horrible reaction to the fingernail products I was using. The tips of my fingers and hands would itch to the point of blistering. I lost all of my natural nails. The dermatologist said there was no fungus and didn't understand what could have happened if it wasn't trauma to the nails.
June: 2007: I began going back to the outdoor pool (with less chemicals) to do water aerobics again. I broke out in a rash on my arms and chest. The dermatologist said it was an allergic reaction to the sun.
My blood tests continued to show a positive ANA and a high Anti-DNA Double strand. In addition to this my white blood count was now low.
I stayed out of the sun as much as possible but the rash remained and at times got worse.
August 2007: I did a 2-week course of steroids to try to get rid of the rash. It got better but 2 days after I stopped the drugs it came back with a vengeance.
I received an official diagnosis of Lupus. Described by my doctor as the kind that effects the joints and skin.
I began doing some "research" on the Internet on Lupus, sore joints, and rashes. Somehow I came across a site that said there might be a connection between silicone breast implants and autoimmune diseases.
Suddenly I know in my soul that this is what was wrong with me. I
spent hours and days doing more and more research. I will never
forget getting an email response from a women's health page that
gently told me that implants were only supposed to last 10 years and even if mine were not fully ruptured, I needed to have them removed.
September 2007: A follow up ultrasound on uterus shows thickening lining and fibroids. A hysteroscopy shows a "funny looking" polyp. I needed a surgical biopsy to determine if it is precancerous.
September 9, 2007: My husband and I left for Denver to have Dr. Linda Huang remove my implants and do some fat transfer from my hips to my breasts.
Sept 11, 2007: I went into surgery about 11:15 am and was out of surgery about 4:15 pm. We stayed 6 nights in a hotel to give me some time to recover before our drive home.
Sept 14, 2007: I had my post op visit and my drains are removed.
Sept 15-16, 2007 we drove back home. 12 hour drive in 2 days …it seemed long.
I began taking some supplements to detox my body from the implant chemicals.
I had to give many of these up after I had problems with allergic
reactions. I believe I am allergic to silicon dioxide but I can't
find a lab in the United States that will test for this.
Some did at one time but have all seem to have quit.
My surgical uterine biopsy has been postponed twice now because I had an abnormal chest x-ray and then a swollen gland.
A skin biopsy on my rash showed it was indicative of an autoimmune or connective tissue disease. Today 6 weeks after surgery my rash is almost gone.
Much of my joint pain is going away. I have more good days than bad
Sometimes the fatigue is terrible. I have to go back to bed, but those days seem to be further apart.
I am very happy with my explanted breasts. They are soft and all mine.
I wish I could say this is over but I know that I have a long road ahead to regain my health. I still have the surgical uterine biopsy ahead of me. I still need to deal with the damage this has done to my body.
I am sorry that I got implants.
I'm sorry that I was not informed about the risks at the time I was implanted.
I'm sorry for my family that I put my health at such a risk.
Even though I believed that my implants were "fine," their toxic effects caught up to me over time. When they did, it quickly had a devastating effect on my health.
I'm not sorry that I had them out. I believe now I have a chance at health again.