I am a self-proclaimed “Professional Story-teller”; meaning I just LOVE to talk!
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I stare straight up into the bright lights over head. The cannula is quickly inserted and he starts rubbing my arm gently. His kind eyes and his gentle touch are an attempt to reduce my fears.
“Just a quick sleep, Bianca, then everything is going to be okay…”. From somewhere in the corner of the artificially brightened room; the music is turned up. I start to hear the contagious sound of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”, as my eyes begin to feel heavier. I drop off into a deep sleep.
…All I want for Christmas, is to be able to play with my children. All I want for Christmas, is to be able to get through one hour without wincing, yelping or vomiting in pain. To actually feel rested from the amount of sleep I’m getting. To stop having to check phantom nerve pains, to ensure I’ve not sliced myself open. To stop having random spasms and twitches all over my body, which are serving absolutely no purpose and making me fearful every day of which part of my body is next to fail me. To be able to get things from the top shelf without having to ask for help… To be able to reply “I’m fine thanks”, and not feel like a liar, because I actually mean it.
All I want for Christmas, is my body and my life back.
I’m staring at my reflection in the mirror, not liking the person looking back at me. Where did my boobs go? I’d breastfed two beautiful babies throughout their neonatal journeys and beyond, an achievement only understood by other NICU mums. Why could I not see my breasts for what they are? A successful method to feeding and nourishing my two children. Instead, I see two sad, empty sacks of skin. I feel ugly. My previously perky DD “pre-children” breasts now just a mere shadow… a reminder of who I used to be, before I became “mum”.
I didn’t see my reflection for who I truly am. I saw a person who didn’t exist. I didn’t understand my worth and value as a human, mother or wife. A common thought process amongst my peers; I let my appearance define me.
Following on from a long history of body image issues; all it took to push me over the edge was a few negative comments from people close to my heart. Before I knew it, I was going against everything I had ever believed in and found myself sitting in a plastic surgeons office.
Most plastic surgeons live up to their profession. In my experience, they will agree with anyone’s self-doubt or negative views of oneself, in order to close a sale. I’ve had numerous friends confide in me that they went in for one small issue, and came out self-conscious about a whole range of flaws that they’d had pointed out to them by the plastic surgeon or cosmetic nurse.
I personally find this very dangerous, as it should be in their duty of care to give an unbiased opinion and present a more accurate representation of the pro’s and con’s of surgery. But unfortunately, that attitude won’t fund their expensive lifestyle!
In 2015, I did something completely out of character for me. I got breast implants in front of the muscle, in order to restore my boobs to their former size and glory (before my kids sucked the life out of them!).
A few months after my surgery, I was hospitalised for 2 weeks with influenza and meningitis. After this, I was never the same. I assumed this was due to the meningitis. An assumption that I later discovered, was wrong.
Over time, I got sick. Really sick. I slowly started developing very serious health issues, including migraines, nerve damage, asthma, arthritis, body spasms and twitches, joint inflammation, nerve and muscular pain, chronic fatigue, slurred speech, memory issues… the list goes on. I was becoming a shadow of myself.
My close friends and family saw me slowly retreat from myself. To the outside world, I may have seemed okay. The outside world were lucky to receive the few hours of my brave face that I could bare to put on every day.
Behind closed doors; it was a different story. I couldn’t lift my arms above my head to wash my own hair, hang washing or even play with my kids in the playground. I woke up every morning feeling battered and bruised, as though I’d been in a serious car accident. My body would spasm uncontrollably and I couldn’t get rid of the infections I was continuously treating throughout my body…
I was trying everything. I altered my diet and implemented supplements, mindfulness and meditation. My second home became the GP’s office. I saw hypnotherapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, pain specialists, neurologists and more. I was receiving diagnosis after diagnosis and treatment after treatment. Thousands and thousands of dollars spent in an attempt to get better. Thousands of dollars that I didn’t have. I sold my belonging, borrowed money – anything just to get some relief from treatment. I couldn’t work to my same capacity, so I fell further and further behind.
I just continued to get worse.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been diagnosed with chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, occipital neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia and asthma; amongst other things. No cause was ever identified. No-one could figure out what the cause for the sudden onset of so many conditions was.
(Refer to my earlier blog which details all of the treatments I have been having to assist with my chronic pain).
My quality of life had been destroyed and I could barely function as a mother, partner or friend. I felt guilty for my children not getting a real mother, and to my partner for getting only a small part of the real me. My partner, who had fallen in love with a person who no longer existed. Who had proposed and committed to a lifetime with me and my children, despite meeting me just before my health started to decline. What had he signed up for?
I had next to no family or social life, forever making excuses as to why I couldn’t meet up with friends or attend an event. Excuses that didn’t involve sharing the truth, that I physically wasn’t up to it. The worst part of it all, was having no idea what was going on. I was undertaking various blood tests, MRIs and assessments. All I could see was the damage, restriction of movement and inflammation markers, worsening every time. But why?
I didn’t want to continue to live like this, in a world full of pain and torture. I was running out of hope. As a normally positive person; I used to try to convince myself that I would wake up one day and the pain would be over. That I would get better.
Instead, I continued to get worse. I would burst into tears at the drop of a hat, walking around wishing that I wouldn’t wake up, despite the fact that I have an amazing husband and beautiful kids that I adored. I didn’t want to burden them anymore.
My wedding was just around the corner, so I popped in to Peachy Skin to have a beauty treatment in preparation. While we were getting ready to start the treatment, I had to explain to my therapist Kristin that it was too difficult to get into the position she was asking of me. By pure habit; I was preparing myself to launch into a full-blown explanation; but Kristen didn’t ask. Instead, she asked me point black if I had breast implants.
At first, I was a little taken aback … I wondered what this had to do with anything? Once I got over the initial shock and admitted to her that I indeed did have implants, she continued to share her story with me…
I wasn’t alone. Here was another woman roughly my age who had the exact same medical issues and concerns. The same loss of quality of life. The same fears. But this woman was cured.
She discovered that her implants were causing her illness and booked an explant (implant removal). She passed her surgeons details to me and I made an appointment immediately.
While waiting for my appointment date, I couldn’t stop researching breast implant illness (BII).
Not one to usually turn to Dr Google, I was trying not to get too excited by what the results were telling me. But every story was the same. The same timeframes of illness setting in after implant. The same illness symptoms. The same concern over not having an answer. The same cause.
Lightbulb moment…. I finally felt like I had an answer to what was causing my body to shut down.
I couldn’t get back to my GP quick enough to share my findings with her. I was prepared with evidence to show her, as I assumed she would disregard my concerns. She didn’t. My own GP agreed that this was the best lead we had to date, and recommended I get an ultrasound of my breasts and see the surgeon immediately.
Waiting in the plastic surgeons office; I was slightly nervous but also excited. As the minutes dragged on, I prayed silently that he would give me a clear answer. That he would be able to tell if my implants were causing all of my issues.
Immediately as I met him, I knew he was going to help me. Dedicated and honest; he was fantastic! He couldn’t promise me any results or that the implants were definitely the cause, but he did however explain to me the extensive results he is finding from his research on implants causing pain and illness, especially in women in my age-group:
He suggested my likely reasons would be number 1 or 4; but recommended that in order for me to attempt to get my quality of life back, I had no choice but to explant regardless. That I owed it to my children. (I couldn’t agree more!). If I wasn’t any better afterwards, he suggested that I could always get them re-implanted.
I was desperate and willing to try anything, even for the slightest chance of health improvement. I honestly had nothing to lose! (Except the boobs of course!). I booked my explant for the next available appointment.
Unfortunately my insurance considers the surgery as “cosmetic” and not “medical”, and cost me even more money I didn’t have. I couldn’t afford not to try this. (This needs to change! Patients who experience severe medical illness as a result of any surgery should have their expenses covered by medicare or standard private health insurance. People have a right to their health!).
My explant with full capsulectomy was undertaken on the 13th December 2018. Following my surgery, it was discovered that both my implants were discoloured and leaking. As a result, I lost most of my breast tissue. At the time of writing this post; it’s only been 72 hours since my surgery and not long enough to determine the full extent of the effect on my body.
That being said; today I can honestly say, is the least pain my head and neck has been in for over 2 years. I have regained movement in my neck and shoulders, and my sinus pain is gone. If that’s how I’m feeling already; then I can’t wait to see what my full recovery looks like. I have a feeling that Bianca is coming back!
PS: Do you want any more information on my specialists or specific health conditions? Please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further as I would love to share my story with you!
RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://healingbreastimplantillness.com
For the past few years, I have been dealing with chronic pain; which I haven’t let hold me back from growing my career. I love my life, and all the craziness that comes along with it. However living the busy lifestyle that comes with running my own business is hard enough, without adding being a parent and wife, all while dealing with chronic pain. I love blogging about my tactics to manage my pain; as well as tips to reduce stress in your every-day life.