Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness September 15 Update

Not sure who all has hung in there with me through these last couple of “Renew:” blog updates, but this one should catch me up to the present! 

Last week, on September 15th, I had my 3 month post op check up with the amazing Dr. Derek Shadid. First, for anyone who may be considering any plastic surgery, I would *highly* recommend Dr. Shadid and his professional staff any day. He and his staff are truly fantastic, and this comes from a highly picky person! I’ve had quite a few inquiries on who I chose as my surgeon as well as why, and to be honest, it was several factors including professionalism of office staff, his location here in Oklahoma City, his education (GO HEELS!), and more…but it boiled down to one main factor. Him. He is polite, kind, spent plenty of time discussing my symptoms and concerns with me and didn’t make me feel like my concerns weren’t valid (like my primary care manager did). Also, his experience! Not gonna lie – I had a very long (like to the extreme) list of questions and concerns for him, but even before I could get to nearly all of them, he had covered the bases with me. I didn’t feel like a burden for my thoughts or that he didn’t understand my ailments. For anyone suffering with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, you know this is very, very rare. Also, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, April, was kind, understanding, and honestly helped put me at ease (hello, vulnerability). I also want to mention Leslie, the front office receptionist as well as Patricia, who deals with the financials. Leslie was beyond patient with my initial questions and did all she could to get me in to see Dr. Shadid in a very timely manner. She welcomed my persistent calls to see when a cancelation might pop up, and that’s how I was able to get in to see Dr. Shadid so quickly last year. She’s a welcoming face each time I have gone in, and working with Patricia to work through the financial aspect of surgery was also so easy because of her knowledge and kind personality. 

Okay, now on to the good stuff. My 3-month checkup! It went very well! I have been cleared for all activity, meaning that nothing that I do should hurt any of the surgical healing process. This is great news since really about a month and a half or so ago, I had already started to feel so much more like myself and have been working out more regularly. Nothing crazy – walking, mostly, but still more than normal for me. It’s still a little tender in there while doing certain activities – jumping on my trampoline, for instance – but overall, I’m mostly pain free. Dr. Shadid said that some of the tenderness and few slightly sharper pains that I may experience could be from nerves waking up a bit more, and that this is normal and I can work through the pains with massage. It’s nothing to be concerned with, however. During the appointment, one of my main concerns, which was discussed pretty much from Day 1, was the idea of a fat transfer. This procedure would be where Dr. Shadid takes fat from my back or wherever he is able, and both slim down that area and transfer the fat into the breast pockets. Although we all agree this procedure would lead to the most aesthetic option for me, I have concerns still over quite a few things, including cost and possibly continuing cost. Additional health concerns to include calcification? Long term effects? Fat dissolving into the body, requiring more surgery?? Sigh. I don’t know. Lots to absorb and think about, so for the time being, I’m going to be as happy as I can be with the explant. Women, obviously myself included, put way too much into their looks every day. I had no idea how many women changed their God-given bodies so much through surgery. Women that I know. Women that aren’t “out there on TV” or wealthy. Just…all types of women. I’m not against it, but I do feel it’s problematic about our society when so many of us aren’t happy with ourselves, especially when I look around at the women and friends that have had some work done, and they are and always have been so beautiful to me, regardless of procedure. It’s still baffling to me, since for so many years, I was ashamed that “I was the only one” who had “work done.” I had my reasons to justify, but apparently we all do.

Back to the idea of a fat transfer – this was on the radar from Day One because, as I’ve been very open about, I have pretty much zero breast tissue. Just wasn’t in the cards for me. That hasn’t changed through weight gain or bearing children who nursed. As I standing in front of April, Dr. Shadid’s assistant, extremely vulnerable for her to update my 3 month pictures, she could see my discomfort as I said that I was once again sorry for my appearance. As kindly as ever, she gently reminded me that I could elect to have a fat transfer to change that. She knows I’m hesitant for many reasons. After that super uncomfortable moment, I waited for Dr. Shadid and again, just like the first couple of post op appointments, he mentioned that if I’m unhappy with my result, I would be an ideal candidate for a fat transfer. I had secretly hoped that, like 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, I’d have been too skinny to pull fat from! HA! Not anymore. Maybe THAT’S the reason for my weight gain…totally kidding! I have some definite areas where he could get possibly up to half a cup size for each breast. I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it…though, the idea of having some unwanted fat removed does pique my interest! I’m truly glad to have my options, but also wonder why I feel such a great need to change. Anyways, aside from that discussion and talking about my incisions and their appearance (I chose a particular kind of stitching process that wouldn’t leave anything in my body but that also dissolves differently so the result is a little different), we ended with seeing each other in a year, I think. Actually, I’ll have to check whether it’s a year or six months…at the time of the appointment I was not planning on being here because of an impending move, but the move has been canceled, so now I need to actually process that!

OH! And, an update on my symptoms! Here’s a short list from my first BII post, which you can find here: Journey to Wellness

InflammationImproved 30+%
Joint Pain – Improved 30+%
AnxietyImproved (not sure on %, because this was a particularly stressful month)
Difficulty ConcentratingSlight improvement – 15%
Memory LossThis one I’m not sure on. Still not great, but that’s been the same since I was about 18
Brain FogImproved!! 50% 
Hair Loss – Improved – Hair growth visible, looks healthier
DepressionAgain, it’s been a rough month, but I believe until this past month, I did have an improvement. Not huge, but some. 
Mood SwingsNot sure, but I feel confident it’s improved. 
Shortness of BreathBETTER!! Improved 50% or more! I had no idea that my breaths had become so, so shallow. Just days after surgery, I could FEEL myself breathing deeper. Even if nothing else changed, this would have been worth it!!! 
Weight GainNot sure. Some weight loss since surgery, but I also did a juice cleanse for five days about a month ago. Unfortunately, I followed that up with a month of Starbucks and eating out. Sooo…between that and the stress, I did lose weight, but it fluctuates, and though less weight than before surgery, I’m not sure how much is from just that. 

I’m adding to this list: 

Chronic Fatigue – SO MUCH BETTER!! Probably 50%. Yes, I still get tired doing menial daily tasks, but what I haven’t done is lay in bed all day pretty much since maybe a week after surgery. Are there days I want/need a nap? Yes. But it’s not daily anymore, and even better, I’m able to exercise and walk without becoming short of breath and tired. I already know that my quality of life has been forever changed. 

One last tidbit before I end this update. 

I forgot that I had also asked Dr. Shadid about my ribcage and sternum, and how to me, they felt deformed. I feel like my sternum protrudes a bit while my ribs that were under my implants are a bit…concave. Yes, my actual ribs. I wondered for a while if maybe I was imagining this, but he confirmed that this was not an imagination, but that my body truly does now have a deformity. It likely isn’t going to cause any future damage or organ damage or anything, thankfully. That said, for anyone who has implants and/or for anyone who might one day consider getting them, PLEASE KNOW ALL OF THE RISKS. We ALL thought we knew going in to our surgeries for implants. I did. My friends with implants did. My new “breasties” (friends who have the same types of issues in various groups) all did. But we don’t. MY RIBCAGE IS DEFORMED, Y’ALL. Forever. I truly wonder if THIS is why back in 2011 I had my first bout of costochondritis (inflammation of the ribs). Was the weight of my implants over those 8 years what caused that? It wouldn’t surprise me. Even as I type, I can remember the feeling of pain in my right ribs, right under my breast, where I would have this terrible dull ache for months at a time. No rhyme or reason. No doctor ever told me that it could be the implants — which is CLEARLY marked on ALL of my medical paperwork. I still have some dull pains, and I expect that it won’t ever “go away completely”…but I doubt I’m doing anything now to make it worse (like harboring toxic, heavy bags in my breast pockets). This deformity may also be causing some of the issue with my appearance — if my ribs go in, it’s likely that the minuscule bit of tissue I have (pretty much zero, but still trying to humor the possibility) is also pulling in, and not having the normal protrusion like most women. Remember, I’m a LOT smaller than most, so those bags (they were small and only got me up to a B Cup) were still big and likely heavy for my frame. I worry for those who I know have much, much larger implants, and the pains they may one day have because of them. 

I really wanted to share this with anyone wanting the updates. I know that women in particular have benefitted from my openness and vulnerability.

As hard as it is, I am thankful that my story may one day help someone who reads this. 

xx Shelby 

**Picture from March, pre-explant. One day I’ll take some updated selfies, but it’s been a little crazy over here since the surgery! 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – July 31 Update
Updating with another post – this one is from two months post surgery, and the difference in lifestyle is so recognizable by anyone who knows me! Explanting was definitely the right decision, and though the struggles are still real, I know I am better off without the toxic, fake breasts taking away from my life. 
 
“Good morning!!
Quite a few people have asked for updates on my post-surgery recovery, and the results speak for themselves! It’s only been two months, and I swear I’ve been more physically active in this time since surgery than the previous four years combined. Yesterday I walked two miles, and this morning (before 9 am!) I walked 2.3 miles! This is in addition to some light workouts, as well as being productive through the day. A few months ago, I could barely get a mile in, and I’d be in bed for several hours after. It’s embarrassing, I know, but that was my life, for way longer than I care to admit. The relentless pain and exhaustion was truly that unbearable.
My pain level has decreased substantially, and while I fully believe my AS autoimmune disorder still exists and will continue to cause issues for me (my spinal pain and hip pains have decreased, but still very much there), I think my body is able to help itself more now that it’s not fighting off something that should have never been in there. I am curious about my Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue diagnoses — so many with BII have those diagnoses as well, and a lot of those symptoms have improved. Not 100%, but a big improvement for sure.
I haven’t really lost any weight since last month, despite my efforts, but I’m still feeling healthier in general. I feel I lost some inflammation immediately following surgery, and that was about it. I’ll be seeing a functional medicine doctor soon, and hopefully more things will improve over time and a bit more digging for answers. Physically, my post surgery wounds are healing well, and though I’m trying to adjust my self-perception and self-esteem, I *do* think it is possible there will come a day when I’m not so saddened by my appearance. Though, it depends on which day you catch me on how I’m *really* feeling. All that said, it’s still worth it.

Seeing all three rings closed yesterday was amazing, but being more active with the kids (i.e. I jumped on the trampoline yesterday…something I’d have thought would break my body a few months ago!!!) and being more productive regularly has been even better!! Continuing to pray for healing 💕

xx Shelby 

 
 

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – June 3rd Update

Renew: My 2020 Personal Journey to Wellness – June 3rd Update
I’m playing catch up, again, which seems to be my favorite game! I wanted to make sure these updates on my surgery are recorded somewhere other than Facebook, and are searchable for anyone who might be interested. I have had at least half a dozen women ask me about BII, and I am very happy to help in any way that I can. The biggest takeaway is that you are not alone!!
 
This post is from one week post op, so from June 3, 2020. My surgery was May 27th, so I wrote this about a week later.
I didn’t grab my selfie shot for this blog post, but in any case, you can get the gist of how my post-surgery week went! 
 
“It’s been one week since my surgery, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to say. In fact, this time last week, the recovery nurses and anesthesiologists were still trying to wake me up from my “narcoleptic” state (until I finally left around 10:30 – the procedure began around 1:00 and was about four and a half hours total). Literally, they tried waking me up for longer than the procedure itself 🙈 Every time I’d begin coming out of sleep, my oxygen would drop and I’d pass back out. I was on oxygen for a while and breathing treatments, most of which I don’t remember much about. The flashes of things I do remember amuse me though. I’m very grateful for the care I received from the recovery team (Gail, Jorgie, Dr Chris) and of course the patience that Jason and Amanda had while waiting for me, in the parking lot.
 
The week post-op has been really positive overall; minimal pain meds were used, and I feel more alert and have a bit more energy (which is weird to me since I’m on muscle relaxers around the clock and am healing intensely in my body). My first post op appointment was Thursday after surgery and my second follow up was yesterday. My drains were removed (hallelujah 🙌🏼). I’m bruised, obviously have a long way to go to “heal,” physically and psychologically.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that it seems I awoke to a world literally on fire and in <even more> chaos and disarray. My heart hurts for our nation and it seems like there’s no end in sight.
All that to say, I had so much peace about the surgery itself, going in to the surgery, and now will continue to ask for prayers for healing and peace over recovery – mine, and our country’s. It’ll still be a few weeks of relatively restricted activity, and obviously a lot of physical changes will also be taking place. I haven’t cried or even been upset, yet…so I’m hoping to keep it that way. 💞
 
Below is a quick before and after of one week ago to this morning, just in my face; I hate selfies, and no make up selfies even more, but I think it’s good to look back on and to share. A lot of women can do this before/after immediately after surgery…y’all I was a mess until Friday (I still have almost no memory of Thursday, much less have had the ability for a picture where I wasn’t zonked out) and honestly didn’t see the change others see. I had been feeling a lot of inflammation in my body, my hands and fingers, face, etc for a couple years, and from what I’ve seen in BII groups, this is a real thing. I didn’t see it by itself, but I feel there is a difference in my face when the images are side by side. Same bathroom and lighting, even though the before is brighter for some reason. Anyways, I’m thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers and all of the kindness shown to my family by friends! We’ve had so much food sent to us, as well as lot of people checking in and sharing their stories of BII with me.
Love and hugs to all, and if anyone has questions about #BII, I’m an open book.”
 
xx Shelby
 
Phone picture from my dear friend and surgery care giver, Amanda! So thankful for her time and energy spent on helping me get well and be with me through this time. 
Also, my Baby Yoda is a gift which was hand made by my dear friends, the Spiveys! My friend Shelby’s wife, Liz, makes them, and was a total surprise when they conspired with my husband to give him to me before surgery.