Making a Big Decision
My Breast Explant Journey
The older you get, the less you care about stuff. Maybe I should rephrase that. The older you get, the more your priorities shift. Well, speaking for myself anyway. I don’t care as much about having the newest iPhone, trendy clothes, or manicures (although looking at my nails, maybe I should, LOL.) And more and more, I care less about what people think about me. That’s not meant to be arrogant in any way — it has actually taken me quite a few therapy sessions to get to that mindset. I’ve even gotten to the point where I fantasize about pushing my grocery cart down the aisle at the Jewel, audibly blasting farts, and not caring who hears it — if it wants to come out, then let ‘er rip! (That one may take a few more years, though.) Being in my 50s, things like vanity, trying to fit in, and how I look in a bathing suit just don’t matter as much. Or so I thought.
Some of you may know I’ve had quite a healing adventure over the past few years — healing not only from a mold illness called CIRS but also from the grief of losing my mom, my job, my house, my dream business venture, and my marriage. Yeah, wtf? Having weathered that storm, I can say I am actually grateful for everything each of those experiences taught me. And I never would’ve made it through — without becoming a raging alcoholic — had it not been for going back to church and praying…. A LOT.
In addition to my spiritual healing, healing my body required detoxing the mold. And holy shit, was that complicated. I’ve researched enough about detoxing to write a book! I’ve done everything recommended to rid my body of toxins — from moving out of my house and removing toxic dental work to castor oil packs and coffee enemas (greatest thing ever, by the way — trust me on this one!)
But there’s one last thing I need to do. I’ve been in denial for a long time that it needed to be done. Yeah, back to that bathing suit thing. Turns out I DO care what I look like in a bathing suit. Not necessarily a bathing suit, per se, but how I look physically. Many, many years ago, after nursing two kids — each for a full year — my ‘barely B boobs went to a ‘barely-A,’ and I got breast implants. It felt so vain and superficial at the time, but I literally had NO boobs. AA bras barely fit me. The deciding day came when I was at the beach with my kids and best friend from high school — the friend who holds nothing back — and when I bent over to pick up my daughter’s ice cream wrapper from the sand, my friend said, “Oh good God, get a better bathing suit. I can see clear down to your vagina!”
Hard to tell my ‘flatness’ here, but this was the suit! This is me in a PADDED bra! (Ed Burns)
My implants aren’t enormous; in fact, many people don’t know I have them because I only went back to my size B. They look natural. And I felt ‘normal’ again. Well, I felt like I looked normal. Turns out having these capsules in my body for almost twenty years is a problem.
After My Implant Surgery – Back to a “B”
In my research on detoxing the body, I came across some shocking statistics and stories about BII — Breast Implant Illness. Seems it’s a thing. I thought I was in the clear because they were saline, not silicone, but discovered they have a silicone shell. And the valve in saline implants can be defective, harboring bacteria, viruses, and mold, leaving the body vulnerable to contamination (not good for someone who can’t process mold toxins!) That could explain the intermittent pain I’ve had in my left breast for over three years now near the implant valve. When I looked at the symptoms list, I checked off every one of them.
- Adrenal fatigue
- Panic attacks
- Exercise intolerance
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Heart palpitations
- Gut issues
- Brain fog
- Difficulty learning
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Sensitivity to light
- Metallic taste
- Sinus changes
I went on the social media pages for BII and saw more and more women talking about how incredible they felt after their explant surgeries; some felt better immediately.
This has to be done.
I scheduled my consultation. (Funny…. I just accidentally typed consolation.) Yeah, I feel like I’ll need some consoling about this! I hung up the phone and started crying.
Are these tears of relief? Sadness? Fear?
Likely all of the above.
Relief because removing the implants will remove the toxic ‘invaders’ my body has been fighting for almost twenty years. Sadness over losing what gave me a sense of ‘fitting in’ — something I’ve struggled with my entire life. And fear over how this will affect my self-esteem, my attractiveness, and my ‘womanhood.’ Yeah, I know a woman shouldn’t be defined by her boobs but if we’re being honest about it, society has groomed us to believe appearance does matter. Then I see many women sharing their explant experiences who went from a DD to a B. They still have boobs! This explant will leave me with nothing but saggy nips. When I asked my doctor about doing a lift when the explants are removed, he responded, “I’m sorry, Kathy, but there is nothing to lift. You have zero breast tissue.”
That’s just fucking awesome. Zero breast tissue.
Suddenly I’m 15 again, at a high school dance; my date is trying to ‘cop a feel’ and can’t find anything. I didn’t need a bra until my sophomore year. Yeah, I was the girl that got teased about being “flat as a wall” and was voted president of the IBTC — Itty Bitty Titty Committee.
I’m scared. Not just about the surgery and the physical healing I have ahead of me but the emotional healing. My friends and family are very supportive, giving me the pep talk about you are not your body and thinking how much better you’ll feel. And my best friend, with her infinite wit, tells me, “Hey, be happy you don’t have to dig your boobs out of your armpit every time you lay down.” She has a special way of keeping me in check. “Flat-chested women are sexy; look at Kate Hudson,” she reassures me. Even though I cannot pull off the Kate Hudson look at my age, I am going to work on getting myself to a place of confidence in my new look. I am aware that accepting how I look in clothes with a padded bra is one thing, that look when I’m naked in front of a mirror will be another thing. That’s the one I’m struggling with. Then my teenage daughter, in her signature find-the-positive-in-everything, said, “At least you don’t need a mastectomy from cancer.”
Well, that will put things in proper perspective. I thought of a friend who did have a double mastectomy, chose not to have reconstructive surgery, and she is one of the happiest, most confident women I know.
Why am I going public with this? I guess for a few reasons. I see so many women struggle with body image. And dammit, we have to lift each other up! (There’s a pun there!) LOL.
We need to BE OK with the body God gave us. It’s so frickin’ cliché to say this, but it truly is what’s on the inside that matters. I can choose to be depressed, disgusted with my body, and unhappy. Or I can choose to be confident and happy and focus on the gifts God gave me. Of course, it’s easy for me to SAY this….. it’s another to DO it.
I want to show that it’s okay to struggle with shit that’s hard. I’ve always felt pressure to silently tough it out or suck it up through the hard stuff. And while it’s important to be strong, it’s important to not ‘tough it out’ alone. It’s more than okay to need support, and I will absolutely need support through this!
I also want to teach my kids how important it is to recognize mistakes are okay. In fact, they are necessary. One of the best lessons in life is to be able to accept responsibility for our mistakes and then apply the lessons we’ve learned from them. And it’s also okay to be vulnerable. I know I was judged when I got the implants, and I know I’ll be judged when I explant them. I’ll also be judged on my appearance. As long as I’m at peace with myself, my body, and my choices, that’s what matters. When we put ourselves out there and share our mistakes and weaknesses, that is where we grow, where we develop character.
Thank you for indulging me and my vulnerability on this adventure.
I got this.
Making a Big Decision:
- Research it.
Knowledge is power. Look at the pros/cons.
- Talk to people you trust who will be honest with you.
The people closest to you may see an angle you don’t see.
- Sleep on it.
Always give yourself time for big decisions.
- Pray/meditate on it. Ask for signs, for guidance.
I have found if it’s not the right decision, you will experience many roadblocks. Obstacles are put there for a reason.