It was a Friday afternoon in August when I decided to get breast implants. To be completely honest, the idea wasn’t something I was wildly obsessed about or had been harnessing a long-time insecurity with. I had accompanied a friend to a plastic surgeon’s office for a consultation she was on. While in with her I mentioned my breasts had lost volume & started to droop. “Sad boobs,” was what I referred to them as. The surgeon coordinator smiled, “I have a cancellation next week! You can feel great too!” Full disclosure- I was going through the worst breakup ever & losing a family member to cancer. I remember thinking, “Perfect! I can feel externally good, something for me!” I have never given something less thought or research. I booked the surgery for the following week.
The saga of symptoms…
Almost immediately after surgery I started to notice some complications. I subsided them and downplayed to how good I felt I looked externally. I had already struggled from PTSD from an accident I was in. I created an internal dialogue that each new symptom was my body just “catching up.” The first eight months following my surgery were the hardest.
My hands were starting to numb and swell quite frequently, I was having anxiety attacks and my blood pressure was dropping so low I would faint. Upon blood-work/comprehensive labs I was diagnosed with Hashimotos, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, & Sjögrens. These are all autoimmune diseases, as in, the body is attacking itself for some reason. I would also get blanket diagnosis here or there.. “It’s probably anxiety and depression causing you IBS.” “Sounds like chronic fatigue!”
More diagnosis would continue for the next two years until I reached a whopping seven autoimmune diseases. Most doctors were quick with a prescription, but I needed to know why. I started to search high and low for answers. I had become a conspiracy theorist with my own body. Was my makeup toxic? Was losing a loved one and having PTSD causing me to go crazy?… Was I crazy?
At this point seemingly normal tasks started becoming very complex and shame overthrew my being. The more pain I felt, without validation, without reason, the more determined I became to prove everyone wrong.
I made a folder of all of my blood labs, hormone testing, expanded GI panel results, and I would go from doctor to doctor. Some days I would walk in to a new office and just break down in tears. I wanted to be understood, I wanted to be better. But how?
“I had become a conspiracy theorist with my own body.”
“Could it be your boobs?”
I decided to be more transparent with my health journey on social media. I would miss things here or there and needed a little grace to be raw. I had posted an image detailing autoimmune disease misconceptions and received a message, “Could it be your boobs?” *Insert an eye roll from me.* “No, there is no way.” But, could it?
I didn’t want to believe it but I could not get the question out of my head. I joined a private Facebook group on “Breast Implant Illness,” for the sake of research. Sure enough, there were thousands of women. Just like me. The myriad of symptoms, the isolation, the anxiety, hair loss, autoimmune disease. Just here in plain sight!
Why had no doctor mentioned this?! I booked an appointment immediately with my initial surgeon, and much to my dismay.. he discredited my new research. “This isn’t proven by the FDA. You have anxiety. You are fine.” I left frustrated. I visited six more doctors before meeting Dr. Jon Bradley Strawn.
Dr. Strawn validated my pains and explained how we are all different, and what will work for some women, will not for others. I booked the surgery to explant. If there was even a one percent chance this could help me, I was in.
Be Your Own Advocate
It has been three months since my explant surgery. I can say without a seed of doubt, that listening to my body and demanding answers was the right decision. A lot of my symptoms have disappeared and we will draw new blood work soon to compare pre and post explant labs. Yes, some days I do double takes in the mirror.
The mechanics of my body have changed. But I would do it all over again. With this, I urge women to be their own advocate. If your body is challenging you, keep seeking your truths. You may get the eye rolls, the shame, the pushback, but you are strong. It’s okay if some people don’t empathize or validate your experiences or pain. You know where you stand, and that is the only validation you need.
Lacy is a lifestyle & wellness influencer and philanthropist. After a traumatic accident, being diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases & endometriosis she decided to shift her perspective from an internal struggle into how to help others who are battling the same. She uses an all-in approach to battling shame & the side-effects that accompany it. Lacy currently speaks on victim advocates panels on how to recapture your sparkle after trauma. Instagram: @Lacyoc