Prior to my operation, these were the symptoms I was experiencing the week before.
Tinnitus. This had got really bad. It was a constant alarm bell in my head driving me nuts.
Joint/ muscle pains. They had been behaving themselves, considering I had been so blummin poorly over the last month with the never ending virus, I had a few little moments but they never seemed to last very long. However the night before the operation, I started to get swelling around the lower knuckle of my little finger and on the tops of my feet (which was odd) but there was no pain or stiffness.
Fatigue. I had been tired over many years but the months up to the operation I had been so fricking tired I could barely move. It was hard to pin point it just on the boobs because of the virus, and then prior to that, the chemo drug had played a huge part in my exhaustion. But I was hoping that I would notice a difference in my energy levels once I had explanted. Only time would tell.
Spots. I seemed to be having an out break on my face like a pre-teen but that could be the detox of the methotrexate.
Hair loss and lack of hair growing. My hair at this point was in a really bad way, brittle frizzy ends and worst of all, it just fell out when I ran my fingers through it. This wasn’t a recent thing either. I can’t tell you how much money I had spent on my barnet over the years. I am sure I could have bought a small island off the Caribbean with the cash I had shelled out. I originally put the lack of hair down to having babies, but the agony of trying to grow my hair long became a running joke with my hairdressers. It just wouldn’t grow. This wasn’t just the hair on my head either, it was my under arm hair, bikini line, eyebrows and leg hair, none of it wanted to grow. I had heard from other women with Breast Implant Illness (BII) that their hair loss stopped after explant. So I was very excited to see if my hair would start growing a few inches, once the toxic bags had been removed.
Dizzy spells.. The minute I stepped foot out of bed each morning, I would be walking like a drunk person to the other side of the room! If I got in a lift, I would feel sea sick as I stepped out of it. If I went into a room with those crazy school/hospital tube lights, I got really bad vertigo that made me feel incredibly sick. Dizzy spells has had a huge effect on my life and I have seen many a specialist about it. It has nearly ruined holidays, days out and my general day to day life. My grandmother had Meniere’s disease, so for years I thought it was simply a hereditary thing. However, learning that this was a common side effect of BII and that the timing of my dizziness started about a year after explant, I was looking forward to seeing if these dizzy genes had been passed down to me or if maybe it could be related to my implants and be one of the symptoms to go.
Another thing I had developed over the last couple of months before the explant was very cold hands and feet. I was constantly wrapped up in a blanket to warm myself up and the heated blanket was turned up to its highest in bed to keep me warm through the night.
Lets not forget the brain fog, heavy irregular periods, random headaches, sore throats & swollen glands, blurry vision, neck and back ache and poor sleep.
I felt very apprehensive the night before. It was more to do with the fact that this was it. If this didn’t work then I had to accept my fate of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the Methotrexate (mxt) and a smug consultant (DR X). But I wasn’t going into the hospital with that on my mind NO WAY. I was going into my operation with positive vibes and excitement, that this was the day I healed myself and turned my life back around, returned it to ‘normal’. I constantly kept saying to myself a little positive affirmation to keep me going; “I am so happy and grateful for my health and happiness.”
April 5th 2016. I made it. I have to admit, there were times over the past month I thought that I was going to have to reschedule thanks to the lurgies and virus’s that had set up home inside me. But here I was, ready to go into surgery and finally get rid of my implants and find out if they were the cause of all my troubles.
I arrived at the hospital at 9am. My husband, Curtis, had to take my eldest daughter to her musical theatre rehearsals, so I went in on my own. I was taken down to my private room and the nurse ran through a few health checks. Her name was Mary, she was really lovely. “So you’re having your implants removed today” she said. “Yes” I replied. “ Not having any new ones put in” she asked. I told her a shortened version of my story and how I was hoping that my implants maybe related to the inflammation in my joints etc.
“ It’s common knowledge that women can get sick from implants” she said not looking up at me, as she carried on filling in forms and sticking stickers over bits of paper. I just looked at her in awe and amazement. The timing of her beautifully worded sentence couldn’t have been better. “ Do you know how much I could hug you right now?” I replied. She looked up at me and said “ It’s well documented that women get symptoms similar to that of M.E!”. There was one lovely lady, Katie, that I had become friends with on the support group that would have paid good money to hear her say that. She was incredibly ill and had been diagnosed with M.E. and Fibromalaga. Could barely eat, walk and after her explant a week prior to mine, had to have a cathata put in. She was bed ridden for weeks on end and was praying that her implants were the cause of this nightmare journey. I couldn’t wait to tell her what Mary had said.
After all the form filling and urine samples and special sock fitting instructions were given, I was left to chill out in my room. It was 9.30am and my operation wasn’t until 11am. I tried to watch a bit of Netflix on my iPad, but I just couldn’t concentrate, the nerves had started to kick in. By 10am I decided to put my bright white, very long and ridiculously tight elasticated operation socks on and you have to make sure that certain sections are on certain parts of the leg. I went into my little ensuite bathroom and managed to get the first sock with ease. But typical timing, just as I was putting on the second sock, there was a knock at my door, it was my Surgeon, Mr Haywood. I was already hopping about the bathroom struggling to pull the next sock up and I could hear him chatting to me as he entered the main room. Not wanting to keep him waiting, I decided to give up on sock number 2 and come out with one sock on and one sock off. I looked good!
Mr Haywood is one of the nicest, kindest consultants I have ever met. He sat down and spent a good half an hour with me, going through what he was going to do. I had written down a list of questions for him, knowing I wouldn’t remember them all on the day. I wanted to make sure that I would be having a full capsulectomy, this is where the implant and the scar tissue thats formed a capsule around it, is removed as a whole piece. I also wanted to make sure that I would definitely be getting my implants back after the operation and that my scar tissue would be sent off for analysis for ALCL (anapaestic large cell lymphoma – is a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Like all lymphomas, it’s a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the body’s immune system and now linked with breast implants.) He confirmed that it was all going to happen and then added that he would like to get the scar tissue checked under a microscope for any foreign bodies, silicone being the main culprit! I was so touched by his suggestion, to me it showed that he had listened to what I was trying to achieve. He totally understood why I was doing all of this and my hopes for better health. At that moment, I felt 100% relaxed and that I was in the right place with the right team of people around me. It really doesn’t take much to make someone feel special or cared for. Dr X could seriously take some consultancy /people skills from this guy!
My husband and littlest monkey showed up, which was wonderful support and I am so glad they came back. It gave me something else to focus on before I went down to theatre. Just as I was about to attempt to get sock number 2 on, the anaethatist came bowling in. He sat on the desk in the corner of the room with my file in his hands and his opening line was “Oh I see you have RA, who is your consultant?”, “ Dr X” I replied with a fake smile. “ Oh he is nice fellow” he said looking up at us. We just stared back at him blankly as if he had just spoken utter gibberish. An awkward silence filled the room for a brief moment until he moved swiftly onto my anaesthetic. After he agreed to put the cannula in my arm and not in the back of my hand (it hurts way too much) he stood up and walked over to where I was standing, which was on the other side of the room, and with the palm of his hand he gently pushed my face away, not once but twice!! Completely bewildered as to what the hell had just happened between me and the guy that was putting me to sleep in less than half an hour, I glanced over at Curtis who looked just as confused as I did. Mr Anaesthetist then bounded out the same way he arrived. It was such an odd moment and definitely not something I was expecting to happen. I am so really relieved Curtis was there, as I think I would have just picked up my stuff and done a runner.
I managed to finally get sock number 2 on just as the porter came to collect me. It was time. No turning back. I was tucked into my bed and wheeled all of 100 yards down the corridor and into the anaesthetic room. I then had to get out of the soft, comfy warm bed and onto the operating bed, which was colder, harder and not so comfortable. Mr Anaesthetist was now all gowned up and in his scrubs, waiting to send me to sleep. I chatted nervously knowing that I was about to go under and having had a few operations in my life, I knew what to expect. I hated this bit. As the liquid made its way through my body, I squirmed with the feeling. But within two seconds I was out cold.
The next minute I was being woken up in the recovery suite. The nurse that was looking after me had a voice like a firkin fog horn. I wanted to ask her to use her indoor voice, but I didn’t think it appropriate as she was in charge of me and I was still super drowsy. Mr Haywood came over to check on me and even though I was disorientated, I still managed to bombarded him with questions; What were they? Were they ruptured? Was there any mould? He definitely answered the questions, but to this day I can’t remember what the hell he said. As they wheeled me back to my room, I was handed over to nurse Mary, which was a relief as she spoke at a normal acceptable volume. I started to feel really sick from the anaesthetic and so Mary decided to shove a persary up my rear end and then give me an anti- sickness injection. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling as she stab me quickly in the leg . She was very lucky I was feeling too rough to care or I may have smacked her one in the face. It bloody hurt.
I slept off the anaesthetic for the rest of the afternoon and at 6pm Mr Haywood came in to see me. He has such a great manor about him, he really cares for his patients. He sat with me for half an hour explaining exactly what he found and never once did I feel like I was taking up his time or he needed to be somewhere else.
So, here it was, the moment I had been waiting for all these months. I was finally going to find out exactly what implants I had inside me for 14 years.
Drum roll please…………………….
The implants had no name on them. Just the weight of 200CC. Mr Haywood reckoned that they could possibly be the old Allergan silicone implants. But the answer I was looking for was not going to be revealed today. He said that they looked of good quality and that he had cut into one to find the composition. They were silcione gel. There was no mould, no rupture and the capsules (scar tissue) was thicker on the left implant than the right. I had no black gunk or leaking silicone inside me either. So all in all, it was a really good result. He explained that with the textured silicone shell, the outside can flake off onto the capsule/scar tissue. These silicone flakes can then get into your body and as your immune system can reach anything anywhere, this can possibly lead to an immune response. So I would only know if anything like that had happened when I got the results back from the lab once they had analysed the scar tissue/capsules.
It was then that he wanted to have a look at me and check there wasn’t any bleeding or problems. This was the first time I had a look at myself without my implants. Bearing in mind that I was flat chested prior to having the implants, I knew that I wasn’t going to be left with much, but I’ll be completely honest, it wasn’t a pretty sight. I was hoping to have a little something, a little form in my breast but nothing was there. Just two nip nops sitting on a couple of little saggy sacks that were slumped over a couple of plasters. My heart sank, but remembering why I was doing this, helped me suck up the tears and hold it together in front of everyone in the room. I still had a glimmer of hope though, as I knew that it takes time for the skin to shrink back to normal, a bit like when you have a baby. I also knew, thanks to the support group, that they can ‘fluff out’ in time, so you get a little form back. Maybe all would come good in the end. Mr Haywood was happy with everything and discharged me that evening.
From the minute I woke up from the operation, I consciously started to go through a mental check list of all my symptoms pre operation. I think I was hoping for miracles and to wake up completely cured. So I was highly disappointed that my tinnitus was still ringing in my ears and the lower knuckles on my little finger were still slightly swollen, all the other symptoms would be a wait and see. I had read a few posts from ladies on the support group that said they felt great straight away, even one of the ladies said their tinnitus went immediately. I was ever hopeful that that would be me. Maybe with my situation, it would just take a little time. Nurse Mary said it ususally took at least 2 months.
The one thing I did know, was I was on the right side of recovery. I had finally done it and at this point in time, I certainly didn’t regret it.
Click here to read what happened next…. xx