Ramblings- from "itty bitty titties" to explant... Part II - Big BOOB is a BURST

July 12, 2019

Today is MY BIG BOOB DEATH DAY. 

I'm finally getting the TIG OL BITTY OUT. 

No more hunching over to disguise the PORNOGRAPHIC TEAT.

No more artistically patterned shirts to trick your looming eyes from the MONSTROUS MAMMARY. 

No more perfectly placed sweat shirts or purses over my shoulder to hide the ENORMOUS UDDER. 

No more rubber chicken cutlets to stuff in the other bra cup and try to camouflage the elephant in the room. 

 

FREE THE NIPPLE!!!

 

NOPE, just a four hour surgery to remove two choices I made back in 1994 because I wasn't happy with my body the way it was. Two 420cc McGhan Style 168, textured breast implants.

 

A huge fear I have of going under and possibly not waking up to see my loved ones again. BUT I need to do this and move on. 

 

SO, how the fuck did I get here? 

 

May 2019, I find out the right boob is a bust, but how did it BURST?!

 

It wasn't that simple knowing exactly when it ruptured, and the irony is that I had been going to doctors for over a decade with issues...

 

2018

Dr: So how long have you had this headache?

Jo: Since 2009

Dr: So how long have you been telling your husband you have a headache? 

Jo: Since 2007 LOL.

Dr: What kind of things have you tried for the headache? 

Jo: Motrin, Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Alcohol, juicing, birth control pills, meditation, yoga, hormone regulation, sex, sleep, EFT, pot, massage, cryotherapy, exercise, water, vicodin, oxycontin, norco, topomax, herbs, essential oils...

Dr: Has any of these things given any relief or worked?

Jo: No

 

HINDSIGHT

2009 - I was at the ob/gyn following a failed IVF procedure. I remember complaining about the headaches I was having. At that time, she told me it was probably hormones, maybe a fluctuation in hormones from going through the IVF process, but no testing ordered. AND I did not request testing. I wish I had advocated for myself.

 

Those headaches continued and became chronic. I told myself I needed new glasses, or spent too much time on the computer at work. Once my daughter was born in 2011, the headaches were from lack of sleep, or I wasn't eating right, or maybe just the stress of a new baby. I'd get home and lay down with my eyes covered and most often go to bed with same headache. They would go in cycles and last for a few days at a time. Often, they would just nag me, like hang out in my forehead or eye socket teasing me -- never truly gone, just waiting to reappear again.

 

Occasionally I would have a hard time taking deep breaths, and in 2014, I went to the doctor because I had a tight chest, a chronic cough with phlegm that I couldn't not cough up, It just rattled in my throat constantly. I sounded like I had smoked cigarettes for 40 years. I'd wheeze and whistle all night long, I could barely sleep. It lasted for months. I went to the dr thinking that I had walking pneumonia or something. I was diagnosed with allergy induced asthma at the age of 45.  I was prescribed an inhaler and this asthma would show up about twice a year for the next five years. It took weeks or months to go away, and I was always coughing up horrid thick mucous. 

 

My feet and hands would go numb while I was asleep. I would get night sweats and wake up soaked. My skin and eyes became very dry and my vision steadily decreased every two years when I'd get a checkup.  None of these seem related, but in hindsight, I never ever thought that my breast implants could be the cause. 

 

In March of 2018, I was in the ER for severe pain in my right side of abdomen and down the front of my thigh. I felt like I was dying. I didn't know if it could be a gall bladder or ruptured appendix. They did a ton of tests and scans and couldn't come up with anything so I was referred back to my ob/gyn who said that the ultrasound appeared to have an ovarian cyst that could have ruptured causing all the pain. But, even he was not clear because they sent me in for another scan and whatever had shown up a few days earlier had disappeared. I asked about the severe pain in the right groin area for which they couldn't explain and said it was not related. Yet, it persisted. The stomach pain was gone, and no further scans or tests were done for this groin pain. I was told I must have pulled a muscle. To me this was ridiculous because I rarely exercised and had not done anything to pull a groin muscle of late.  In hindsight, I suspect that I may have had a breast implant rupture because of the right sided groin pain and the pain in my right armpit. The groin pain continues for months and in late September of 2018 I noticed that my right breast was very enlarged. I was having extreme pain in the side of my breast and in my armpit area, as well as my groin.  I made my own assumption that I had capsular contracture because it was very hard, and that my left breast had probably ruptured because it was so much smaller. So I lived with my own diagnosis and didn't go to the doctor because I was embarrassed. I had just lost 30 lbs too, so I blamed it on that I just didn't notice. 

 

My right breast continued to grow and grow and I was in denial. I had done some google research and fell down a rabbit hole. I found some groups with thousands of women who claimed to have something called breast implant illness or (BII). When I read through the list of symptoms, I couldn't believe it. It described my life for the past ten years. Initially, I checked off the items that jumped out at me my first time through the list, but as I reflected on the past 25 years, I realized that I had many other "random" symptoms. NOW, if someone had ever handed me this list to take home after having the implant surgery aka breast augmentation, I could have very well made myself think I had these symptoms, but never seeing this list until after 25 years with implants... I KNEW had them, yet I had felt like a hypochondriac all these years. I felt bad for whining or complaining, and I pretty much stopped complaining because I know people were tired of hearing about my headaches and pains. I was tired of it too. 

 

While in these groups,I stumbled upon something called BIA-ALCL (Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma). That was a mouthful. AND my very swollen breast was one of the very first signs women have in many cases of ALCL. Many people were urging me to go to the dr so I did.  Finally. 

 

It's now May 2019, I get a referral to plastic surgery. For BIA-ALCL, there is a very specific protocol to be followed based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for testing. The doctor ordered an ultrasound, which detected that my implant was actually ruptured and the capsule was full of fluid.  I was told that if a saline implant ruptured, the saline would be absorbed by the body. She ordered a fine needle aspiration or biopsy of the fluid and what came out was not saline. It was thick and brown and resembled chocolate pudding. I waited a few days to find that those results for the cancer markers came back negative. That was a huge relief, but with this type of BIA-ALCL (Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma) it cannot be ruled out until the capsule tissue is tested and comes back negative. This is all based on NCCN guidelines. It is NOT breast cancer. It is a cancer of the lymph and it occurs only in the breast capsule tissue of women with textured implants, and does not occur in women who have never had implants. BIA-ALCL is not super new, but the case counts are not very high considering that there are millions of women with breast implants. The diagnosed cases are around 450 for the entire world and possibly in the 65 range for the USA. Detection started over the past 5-10 years, but it has grown. It is EMERGING. As more and more women are getting educated and "woke" about it, they will not continue to ignore their seemingly random symptoms. The symptoms that many doctors have dismissed because they could be related to something else, or blown off because it is probably "nothing". The one thing that every single case has in common is that every single case of BIA - ALCL has occurred in women with "textured" implants. It knows no race, size, or ethnicity, country etc. Could be saline or silicone. So not all women with textured implants will have BIA-ALCL, but so far every women with BIA-ALCL has textured implants. I have even heard that it's possible there is one case in a smooth implant, but I haven't seen verification yet. So there you have it. Do you have textured implants? Do you have or have you had any of these symptoms? 

Symptoms

 

 

 

It seems we (Ok I will speak for myself), I wait too long to address health issues, or is it that we/I don't make the time? I knew a man who ignored some minor things long enough and by the time he went to the dr, he had stage 4 pancreatic and colon cancer. My father in law was also diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer, with little symptoms. he died a few months later. I've always thought that I would know, there is no way that I could not know. 

 

WELL, 

The seemingly random symptoms get pushed down. I wonder how many years I pushed down symptoms of breast implant illness. Maybe ten years??? 1994. 

 

I was diagnosed with depression in 1994. Hmmmm, the same year I got the implants. Coincidence? Maybe. BUT leaving the military was a  transition. I was also secretly dealing with sexual assault and rape from the military, and honestly, just trying to figure out how I fit back in the civilian land. How I fit in with dating. My self esteem was low. I had a flat chest. BOOBS would fix that right?  

 

I guess I drifted many years and age was finally catching up to me right? I was nearing 50 and my body was hurting. Well DUH, I was 100 lbs overweight and had done so many things to try and lose. My mind was ready at 49. One last shot to give it a go. I had left a toxic job in 2017, I was emotionally healing, and the weight loss focus was finally here. I lost 30 lbs but the pain wasn't going away. My hips actually started hurting. My neck and back pain was more persistent. I was more mobile, but still out of breath doing things. I still had this nagging rattly cough that kept coming back. Sleeping and finding any comfy position was very hard. I always woke up sore. 

 

So, GREAT, I made it to 50 without any crazy diagnoses, well, unless you consider anxiety and major depressive disorder or obesity a crazy thang. I mean, every other person has it right? or not? Losing 30 lbs put my blood pressure lower, so I was very happy about that. I didn't have diabetes...yet. 

 

BUT Did I know that my breasts implants could kill me?  Um, NO!
When I made the choice to get implants, was it vanity? NO! 

It was self esteem. It was not feeling good in my own skin. It was a body image disorder. 

There was a lack of self love going on big time. I was never good enough (on the outside). 

 

I wanted to have boobs. I wanted to fill out a sexy bra. I wanted a chest. I thought that was going to make me feel womanly. Except, once I got the boobs, I suddenly got attention that felt uncomfortable. AND I can say that almost every woman I have met in this BII/ BIA-ALCL journey has expressed this same thing. 

 

It might be safe to say that they haven't expressed it exactly, until the realization that the implants were making them sick. Why? because now there was a reason to really  take a deeper look at something that had always bothered them. 

 

The fantasy of BOOBS and the truth is that my implants never felt like a part of me. I was always very aware of the balloons in my chest. I had a tough time adjusting to them. I could feel the seam pinching inside my chest. Although I always carried extra body fat (and weighed a whopping 165 lbs when I got them... the PS made it very clear that I would never look like the Playboy model in which I showed him a picture of). I also told him I realized that, the picture was just for a size ideation. I mean, he told me to bring in a picture so he could get an idea, then he tells me this. It secretly crushed my soul.)  I went from a size A cup to a full C I guess. But over the years, I would gain 100 lbs and was crushing a big ol DD for sure. At one point, I was measured for a bra and told that I was a G. OMG! 

 

Anytime I hugged someone, I could feel them pressing and once I hugged someone else with implants, I instantly knew. And she knew, and it was like a little secret. I mean, no one really knew I had them. Like I said, I carried extra weight and they looked natural. I didn't have the classic rounded chest that you see on many thinner women with implants. But as I got bigger, they did too, and they started to sag. Oh, the sag. And the sweat. AND truth is that I never really found a bra that I loved. 

 

The surgery to remove the busted burst booby is July 12, 2019. 

Both sides will be removed and I will again be blessed with what I was gifted by nature. 

AND I will know what my next step is. AND I am learning to be ok with it. 

 

Deep down I know that the reason for my experience is that I am meant to share my story, advocate and empower other women to make the best possible, educated decision before deciding to implant. 

 

I hope I can help someone. 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR PART III BOOBY BEATITUDE

 

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