‘I got implants after having a baby. I truly thought, ‘No big deal.’ I started having pain, EVERYWHERE. I pulled in to a gas station and called my husband. ‘SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME.’

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“10 years ago, I got implants after having a baby. I was young and highly impressionable. I breastfed and my boobs went from normal to huge to virtually nothing afterwards.

And so, when I went to a plastic surgeon, I was nervous but excited and truly thought no big deal… Everyone has them. Men glorify boobs as do us women. We think we need cleavage to feel sexy and desirable and good about ourselves. And they definitely gave me that boost in confidence. 

I waitressed and bartended all over and got my fix making quick cash in a fast-paced atmosphere of attractive people. I felt sexy and confident and amazing for about 4 years.

Then I started to notice myself getting tired more and more. I had a second baby. I was out working every weekend and not coming home until 3-4 in the morning. I was going to college and juggling play mom and wife and keeping up with household chores. So, I figured the fatigue was normal and part of my life. But over time it got worse. I started going to doctors and they ran blood work. It seemed to come and go. I always had bad depression growing up, so I often thought maybe that was the root cause of it. Or maybe my eating habits. Or maybe just my overall daily life.

As the years went on it got worse. We moved out to the country and got horses and it was amazing and peaceful. My husband started traveling for work and was gone a lot but made enough money that I could now stay home and focus on work from home jobs and taking care of kids and animals. My life from the outside looking in seemed perfect and incredibly easy. But then why was I so tired all the time? 

Then I started having pain…. Everywhere. Joint pain. Pain in my chest. My back. My legs started to swell a lot. My hair was falling out in bizarre places. I was always freezing even if it was hot outside. I had dark grey circles under my eyes and would bruise all over. My hormones were all over the place. I was emotional. Irritable. 

Then came the brain fog…. And with this I started to feel like I was going crazy. What I mean by brain fog is my memory was disappearing on me and my brain was not processing things the way it should… people could be talking to me face to face and I was not processing what they were saying. I could read something and then would have to go back and read it a second or third time to process it. It got so bad that one day I was driving on the highway and my brain was not processing the fact that traffic in front of me had slowed down to a dead stop. Here I was still going 65+mph. Suddenly at the last second my brain clicked that everything was at a standstill and I swerved to exit the freeway avoiding hitting the dead stopped vehicle in front of me by maybe a foot and when I did that the vehicle behind me had no chance and they smashed in to the car I avoided. I was shaking. What had I just caused? I was not on my phone. I was just driving, and my brain turned off. Luckily no one died in the accident and technically I wasn’t at fault according to a friend that was driving in another car and witnessed it because he told me not to blame myself for swerving to avoid an accident….but internally I knew that it was my fault and now these people would have to deal with their vehicles totaled and pain and who knows what else. I tried to put it out of sight and out of mind, but I am an empath and emotional and things like this haunt me. A week later I ran a red light and did not realize until I was running it. Again, I was not on my phone and I was looking straight ahead, and my brain just did not process the red and stop. I immediately pulled in to a gas station and started crying and called my husband and told him ‘SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH ME’. I was scared to drive. I went back to doctors. I had them test me for everything. I started Googling and trying to self-diagnose myself. I was heavily involved in doing dog rescue at the time because it was the only thing that would physically force me to get up and out of bed or off the couch and move and interact with people besides getting my kids to school in the morning. This is how tired I was. This is how much pain I was constantly in. If I walked up a flight of stairs I felt out of breath. My heart rate and blood pressure were so high that my doctor was telling me if I did not find a way to lower it that I was going to have a heart attack by the time I turned 30. 

On the outside I looked normal to people. I put makeup on to always cover up all the darkness under my eyes. I was quiet and friendly and being active in dog rescue or going out with friends to try to combat this constant depression that plagued me from not feeling good had people thinking nothing was wrong. But then when I would privately share how I was feeling or post about it often times people would label me as a ‘drama queen’ or an ’emotional wreck’ or claim I just wanted attention or sympathy. I was confused and hurting and feeling like I truly was crazy and losing my mind. I clung on to the only thing I felt like I was good at and gave me a sense of identity and purpose and would produce endorphins to try to mask my pain which was saving dogs.

I thought that by saving animals I could ‘save myself’. This ultimately ended up being what caused me to spiral even more and more because I was physically over exerting myself. I was head under water and sinking deeper and deeper. I was failing as a mom. As a wife. Family was disowning me. I did not have the time or energy for friends. I was so lost and confused. 

Things got so bad at one point that I started having dizzy spells and would physically fall. I was in the dentist one day with my daughter and the dentist asked me to come look at her tooth and I stood up and my legs completely gave out from under me and I fell in front of everyone and my vision went blurry and I had trouble standing back up. I was embarrassed and I told them I was fine. But the look on their faces showed concern. This was not normal and deep down inside I KNEW I should not be feeling like this and having these bizarre symptoms day after day after day. 

Of course, I had ‘good days’ where I felt relatively normal or fine or the pain was minimal which was confusing to me and made me feel even more crazy.

Doctors could not diagnose me. I had test results come back saying I had some sort of auto immune disorder, but they did not know what it was. I was sent to a rheumatologist. Sent to a psychologist. Sent all over. Never receiving answers. 

Some days were so bad and the feeling of worthlessness and feeling crazy became so overwhelming that all I could think was how much of a burden I had become to my family. How much I was hurting and how things were never going to get better and I would just be better off dead…. Then I would not keep disappointing everyone. Then I would not be such a terrible mom and wife. Those thoughts started to plague me more and more. I was constantly envisioning myself driving off a bridge or just taking something that would make me fall asleep and not wake up again. I started to drink constantly to try to numb my pain both on the inside and outside. I started going out more and more just to distract myself. To try to find some sort of fix or happiness or fill this empty void I had inside of me. To try to feel normal and just pretend like I was not constantly in pain or short of breath or on the verge of falling in front of everyone. 

Energy drinks and coffee gave me a false sense of energy. I would take Adderall or Vyvanse to be able to wake up and function. And I always made sure to smile and make eye contact with others so people wouldn’t look at me like I was crazy or falling apart but would be nice. I was spiraling and I knew it. 

Then one day I met someone. And she told me about Breast Implant Illness. She added me to a group on Facebook called ‘Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole’ that currently has over 73,000+ women and is actively growing. I started reading the posts and asking questions. And I found woman after woman with stories that mirrored mine. Women that when I clicked to their Facebook pages looked like normal, happy, healthy and beautiful women on the outside that were living amazing lives but then reading what they wrote they were ME! I was THEM! In so many ways! Then I read stories about some women that were so sick they were on the verge of death LITERALLY. They looked horrible. Open sores and rashes from their bodies not being able to function properly. Frail and fragile 90 pound hallow shells of their former beauty because they couldn’t stomach food or became intolerant. Women that also talked about wanting to end their lives because their family and friends made them feel like how they felt was all in their head and no doctor could give them an answer as to how to feel better. Reading post after post and seeing the pictures of these women without their makeup and realizing suddenly I knew what was making me sick. My Implants!!!

This is when everything changed. Suddenly I knew I needed to get them out of me and ASAP. This is the sad part though… Implants are a multi-billion-dollar industry and there is no one in the medical field that will admit implants make women sick. There are more and more news reports coming out and studies now today confirming that implants are making women sick and causing cancer and all kinds of problems, but it is because of this growing group of women who now know the truth and are speaking out and telling their stories. How is it with such advances in today’s technology and the health industry, people seem to be sicker than ever before? Crazy to think about. Secondly for most people, like me, health insurance does not cover removing your implants. It is considered a cosmetic surgery and because doctors will not acknowledge implants make people sick, insurance won’t cover it. There were literally women in this group hospitalized on the verge of death and their insurance would not cover removing their implants and they didn’t have an extra $5,000+ on hand to pay a doctor to do it. 

I now knew no matter what I was going to get these things out of me because I continued getting worse to the point, I ended up in the hospital several times either having trouble breathing after falling down or something else. But I am still a girl that wants to feel pretty, and I was terrified of how I would look if I had my implants removed. I researched and found out that I could do a fat transfer which was LIPO from other parts of my body that would be transferred to my boobs after my implants were removed to essentially give me the same size I had with implants after surgery that may or may not absorb some over time based on an individual’s metabolism. However, to properly remove your implants via enbloc which means removing the toxic tissue shell around the implant and then having a fat transfer was going to cost me over $10,000+! 

If it meant I would regain my health, then it was worth it to me. So, I found a Doctor and scheduled the surgery. 

You see when you get implants your body goes in to ‘attack mode’ on them because they are a foreign object being placed in you. Your body immediately creates this scar tissue to surround the implant and protect your internal organs and that shell starts to squeeze on the implants within your chest. Your body is constantly going in to over drive trying to fight the foreign object, so your immune system lowers, and you get sick easier and easier and start to feel tired. Every woman is different on when they will start to feel bad or at what level their symptoms get. For me, before I had my implants removed, I noticed one of my boobs seemed to slowly be getting smaller than the other one. When my implants were removed neither of them were ruptured but the one that came out of my ‘problem boob’ was much smaller than it was supposed to be. This meant that the implant was actually breaking down inside my body and the silicone inside of it was slowly leaking out over all these years and poisoning me. Which explains why I was getting more and more sick. 

After I had my implants removed everything changed for me. I immediately felt better. I still had good and bad days. I realized I had to heavily detox by changing my diet to try to get some of the remaining toxins in my body out.

But I went to my doctor after I explanted, and her jaw dropped when she took my heart rate and blood pressure and she told me they were completely normal! The swelling on my legs started to go down. My skin started to glow and the darkness under my eyes went completely away. My hair started to grow and grow again, and I was cold less and less. My energy was amazing compared to before and rarely did my kids come home from school to find me laying down. I could actually run again without being out of breath or feel my chest get tight! Of course, I still had depression on, and off which can affect this, but I knew this and gave myself realistic expectations. I felt like a normal person again after feeling so sick for so many years. 

So, for those who actually took the time to read all this since I know it was realllllly long…. I just have to say this – Society glorifies big boobs. And I know plenty of women that have implants and are gorgeous and either say they don’t feel sick or if they do, they don’t care because looks matter more to them. That is fine, it’s your life and body and I am not trying to bash or shame you. If someone would have told me the first 4 years I had implants when I was bartending that they were going to make me sick I would have told them to go away because I felt fine and felt sexy with them and there was no way I was going to go pay a doctor to remove them when the whole reason I got them was to feel better about myself. 

HOWEVER, hindsight now for me looking back I regret having ever got them. I regret that when my kids are grown up they will forever remember the first half of their childhood being me always tired laying on my bed or on the couch and telling them ‘maybe tomorrow’ or ‘mommy doesn’t feel good’ when they would ask me to play with them.

It is easy to put on a mask and cover up how you feel inside to the world around you. Because truthfully no one wants to always be around a ‘Debbie Downer’. Or if you constantly hear someone complain or say how sick they feel but then you see them out all the time or pictures posted, and they look completely fine on the outside you label them crazy. 

Just know that in the end it doesn’t matter what size your boobs are if you feel sick and hurt every day. I feel so good now and I am feeling more and more alive every day. I am eating better. I exercise. I find balance in life. I still struggle and have bad days. But the way I feel today verse how I felt over the last 5 years has been a night and day difference for me. 

Implants are not worth it in the end. They don’t last forever, and they eventually do break down inside your body. The damage they do on your body isn’t worth your health. Sometimes we just need to remember to love ourselves and know that we matter verse letting society or men or even other women or our own inner dialogue convince ourselves that we need huge fake boobs. I would rather be healthy and sane and feel beautiful inside and out then feel like I am dying every day just so I can house silicone bags inside my chest. It isn’t worth it.

And if you have implants or know someone that does that feels sick look in to Breast Implant Illness. It is very real. And from someone who lived it…. there is light at the end of the tunnel and a way to find your health and reclaim your life again I promise.” 

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Barnes, 30, of Texas. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey.Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read another woman’s story of breast implant illness:

‘I was self-conscious after having a baby, so I got breast implants. I got the ‘healthier’ option. When I woke up from surgery, it felt like the air got knocked out of my lungs.’

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