I underwent breast augmentation surgery in 1991, implanted with Dow Corning Silastic II smooth silicone breast implants, over the muscle. They were unknowingly faulty, and recalled within a year of getting them (though I was not notified).
In 1996 (later confirmed to be the point of rupture), I had a strange onset of symptoms which included neurological issues that affected the left side of my body, head to toes. My muscles stopped working; they became very fatigued and painful. I experienced flu-like symptoms and developed a measles-like rash on my torso, face and extremities. I experienced uterine hemorrhage, and insomnia.
Above photo: Rash on shoulder (this rash covered my torso, face and extremities)
As years went by, those symptoms worsened and I developed new ones. I had difficulty swallowing. I’d presented to doctors but, my test results were ‘normal’. I noticed a lump in my left armpit and months later, a mass in my right armpit.
By 2008 it was becoming more difficult to push through my symptoms. In 2010, the esophageal and respiratory issues became severe enough that I presented multiple times to E.R. Eventually I was admitted to hospital. I believed I would finally find out what was happening, but after a 10-day admission I checked myself out of the hospital believing the doctors would end up killing me with their meds and misdiagnosis.
I had no idea that silicone is an adjuvant which impacts the way some medications work; apparently the doctors didn’t know either. They insisted the meds I was reacting to should not have been causing reactions. And YET, they were.
Their diagnosis was psychosomatic ‘somatization’. I knew they were wrong and I felt plunged into the Twilight Zone.
Unfortunately when doctors misdiagnose a patient, especially when they perceive the underlying cause to be a mental health issue, they stop looking for answers. In the years they left me hung out to dry, silicone continued migrating more deeply into my chest wall, creating serious, life-threatening complications. I continued getting sicker, until my body had finally gone as far as it could go. If I’d not been explanted when I was, I’d not be here to share my story now. I owe my life to a young resident doctor that broke from the pack.
If rupture had been diagnosed and my implants removed even by 2006 to 2008, my prognosis would have been much different. I’d had a couple friends that suggested they thought my breast implants might be making me sick, but doctors categorically denied that implants cause health issues.
I knew nothing about my breast implants, breast implant related illness, and complications. I share my story in hopes of preventing others from losing their health so unnecessarily.
PARTIAL LIST OF SYMPTOMS:
(These were what I experienced, though others commonly experience them also.)
Symptoms of scleroderma
Symptoms of ASIA
Symptoms of Sjogrens Syndrome
Symptoms of Raynaud’s Disease
Esophageal motility issues
Respiratory issues / COPD
Hormonal imbalance with hemorrhage
Impaired kidney function
Anxiety (onset 2010)
Cognitive impairment and brain fog
Systemic fungal infection
Saliva was so thick I could barely swallow it, and often had to spit it out
Acute inflammation in my bladder
Inflammation in my uterus and throat
Hundreds of benign cysts(?) in my uterus
My breasts were ROCK HARD, painful and misshapen
Localized masses, lumps and enlarged lymph nodes (confirmed to be silicone-filled)
My implants were cold gel packs over my heart and lungs. I’d have to warm my breasts in order to fall asleep. I’d wake multiple times through the night from them being cold and would have to re-warm them so I could fall asleep again. During the day I had to wear a vest.
My symptoms became so unbearable I felt I didn’t know how to be human anymore; but, in truth, I didn’t know how to be human with toxic devices within me that had failed so horribly.
ULTRASOUND: MAY 22, 2013
‘THIS PATIENT DEMONSTRATES BILATERAL INTRACAPSULAR RUPTURE OF HER RETROGLANDULAR SILICONE IMPLANTS. IN ADDITION, ON THE LEFT, THERE IS A LARGE EXTRACAPSULAR SILICONE RUPTURE, EXTENDING FROM APPROXIMATELY 3 O’CLOCK POSITION TO 7 O’CLOCK POSITION LATERAL AND DEEP TO THE IMPLANT, ALONG THE CHEST WALL.’
Showed I had extra capsular silicone in the exact places I’d shown doctors that I could feel something wrong inside my chest. It was an exact map of what I’d expressed, but had been discounted as somatization.
DISCOVERED AT THE TIME OF EXPLANT:
Multiple silicone filled granulomas (one of which was an open-ended portal)
Silicone migrated deeply into my chest wall, and up to my lungs
My explant surgeon remarked, “It was really, really bad in there, for multiple reasons. Your implants really needed to come out.”
My first thought when I woke up from the anesthesia was that I could take a full breath for the first time in years.
Post-explant I continue to have silicone filled lymph nodes, lesions, and masses. I have new ones popping up constantly. I have confirmed enlarged lymph nodes throughout my chest wall and neck. I’m in pain 24/7. Many symptoms have either fully resolved or lessened in severity since my implants were removed, though the long term consequence of residual silicone presents continued health challenges.
Storyboard photo above: I lost my spirit, my health and my smile after the point where I was hospitalized and misdiagnosed. I went into the hospital one person and came out someone else – completely broken. I had so much hope I was finally going to get help, but instead they left me to die. I used to have so much ‘life’ in me. I feel a shell of my former self, though in moments, 4 years after having my implants removed, I feel like ‘me’ again.
I’m hopeful that I will make continued progress. Time will tell what happens with the migrated silicone and lesions in my left breast. Regardless of what the future might bring I try to enjoy as much in each day as I can.