I didn’t want breast implants. I *really* didn’t want breast implants! They didn’t fit my sensibilities and I didn’t believe they could be ‘safe’. When my husband suggested I get breast implants I was hurt and surprised. I said, ‘no’. He persisted and I caved in. When we flew to Vancouver for the augmentation surgery I was crying, pleading that I didn’t want to do it. The surgery was done under a local anesthetic. I laid on the table angry with myself; asking myself why I was letting them do this to me when I so desperately didn’t want implants. On that table I decided I would never again give away my personal power.
During implant the surgeon ripped an entire bundle of nerves in my left breast so I was in a LOT of PAIN from the start! The nerves took about six years to heal and the pain finally subsided, but that was also the time that my implants had unknowingly ruptured. Immediately following implant I also noted that my breasts were really, really cold! And, the worst thing, which broke my heart, was when I returned home I realized that from that point I wouldn’t be able to feel my children against my heart and their experience of hugging me would be of cold, plastic beach balls.
On my 6-week follow-up visit I asked the surgeon to please take the implants out. He told me that removing them would be far more dangerous than leaving them in. He said the risk of any complications was so low it was really negligible, but taking them out could present serious risk. He put the fear of explant in me. I decided as he said they were ‘safe’ that I’d wait till my youngest daughter had graduated high school till I explanted because I didn’t want to risk my children losing their mother when they were young over such a senseless thing. By the time my youngest graduated I felt too ill to face the surgery.
Around 1995/96 (which on explant was confirmed as the point of rupture) I started experiencing a string of very strange illnesses, including the entire left side of my body (face to foot) ‘stopping working’, and a red measles-like rash on my torso, thighs and hands. From there I developed masses in my armpits and the list of strange symptoms grew. My blood work was always ‘normal’. All the tests I had were ‘normal’.
By 2010 I had developed esophageal motility issues; dysphagia; laryngospasm; systemic fungal infection; interstitial cystitis; inflammation in my bladder and uterus; joint pain; muscle and connective tissue issues; symptoms of scleroderma; pain in my breasts & chest wall; neurological issues including numbness in my arms, fingers and feet; brain fog; respiratory illness; chronic sinus infections; sensitivity to environmental mold; chemical sensitivities; strange over-reactions to nearly all medications; uterine hemorrhage. ALL of which are common illnesses experienced by women with breast implant failure and silicone toxicity. I was virtually bedridden.
I felt seriously ill, but all the tests doctors did still were ‘normal’ so they decided it was all in my head. An all too common scenario. From that point I was broken in more ways, more times and more deeply than I could ever have imagined possible and developed anxiety. I knew I was truly ill and that I was going to die if I didn’t get help. I felt completely on my own medically. I was so afraid.
In 2013 a young, kind, brave resident doctor who’s care I’d come to be under looked me in the eyes and asked if I really believed there was something wrong. I told him I KNEW there was something really wrong, and showed him where I could feel it. An ultrasound diagnosed rupture in both breasts. And MRI indicated that the rupture was contained within my breast on the right side, but on the left silicone had migrated deeply into my chest wall. I was told there was no way to get it all out. The MRI also revealed that the EXACT places I’d shown the doctor I could feel something was wrong were EXACTLY where the migrated silicone was.
Although we knew that there was rupture and migrated silicone you never know the full story until the explant surgeon opens you up. After the procedure the surgeon stressed to us multiple times that ‘it was really, really bad in there!’. My chest wall was a disaster. In addition to silicone there was extreme calcification and an acute type of inflammation specific to silicone breast implants. Not to mention biotoxins.
Explant had involved removing the implants, capsules, silicone-soaked muscles and granulomas (tumors comprised of silicone which had been leaked for so long it had converted to an oil form and an outer layer of clustered immune cells). My body had been fighting a very hard fight, for a very long time. The surgeon indicated she stopped at the point where she would have been into my lung if she’d gone any deeper; a thin membrane layer between where she’d gone and my lung. She had to remove muscle from between my ribs. My chest wall was gutted, but it was not possible to retrieve all the silicone.
My fight is not over.
In 2013, after rupture had been diagnosed, I learned that the implants I’d gotten either late 1990/ early 1991 (I can’t recall the specific date of implant) were RECALLED in October 1992. I was NOT INFORMED. I had no idea the model implants in me were at the center of a major class-action lawsuit. Dow Corning knew the devices were faulty, but deceptively tried to make it appear as if they were ok. They had a near 100% failure rate around the 5-6 year mark, which is exactly when mine ruptured. All news to me in 2013!
In sharing my story of how I ended up having breast augmentation surgery, and the length of time it took for rupture to be diagnosed, I want to be clear that I don’t blame my husband (*I* allowed myself to be implanted) and I don’t hold hard feelings toward the doctors who failed to diagnose I had ruptured implants. This has been a steep learning curve for everyone, especially for ME. There are so many implanted women in my region and globally. From here the goal is to move forward, educating women (and their family, friends, significant others) and doctors so that we can hopefully prevent implanted women from becoming ill. It’s my ultimate wish that women will stop being implanted.