Renew: My Personal Journey to Wellness – 3 Year Anniversary Update

How Has It Already Been THREE YEARS?!

Can you believe I almost “forgot” that it’s been 3 years since I had my breast implants removed? And honestly, I’m not sure I’d have really remembered without a little help from God. You see, while I know many people can’t really understand why I would dare to share such personal, detailed medical history with … well, the world … I can genuinely say I only have that strength and confidence from God. Sharing my story has been on my heart since I wrapped my mind around having Breast Implant Illness, and I know I couldn’t have without Him.

How did He remind me?

Well, because of my advocacy and sharing of this information, various people – that I don’t even really know well – have taken note. I’ve shared on my various social platforms, my website, and in #BII groups what my story has been with implants, and now without. Less than a week ago, I was connected with someone through one of my Facebook friends to share my experience as the other friend is also considering taking her implants out. The Facebook friend reached out to two of her friends, me and another #BII friend, and our stories are so similar, and we both shared with the person considering the implant removal.

I happened to look at the date, and it clicked that I was only 3 days from being 3 years out from a life changing surgery. Don’t get me wrong; it’s extremely difficult to forget that I’ve had this surgery. After all, it’s still challenging to “love” my body the way that it is: flat-chested, no breasts…well, I won’t go in to a lot more self deprecating adjectives and toxic thoughts, but I have all the negative feels about my appearance. It’s hard to miss.

Does this mean I regret my surgery?! ABSOLUTELY NOT. Just means I made a decision three years ago that improved my quality of life overall, but it also affected my appearance. That said, my appearance likely wouldn’t have been too different had I not had the surgery at all, so I’m essentially just back to my God-given look.

When I was connected with the #BII ladies mentioned above, I went through my blog and re-read what I had thought 3 years ago, and the journey that I have been on since. All I can say is, “WOW.” It’s crazy to think about how far I’ve come in three years. That surgery had been delayed due to the COVID world we were living in, and to be honest, it seems like it was forever ago. Tons of political and social issues were happening non-stop, and I even lived in a different state. My life and personal and career goals were totally different than they are now. Truly, some days it feels unrecognizable from how I had been living life. Four to six hours in bed, daily, little to no social life (I have plenty of friends and people who care about me and my family – but I didn’t go out much because I was always tired) and very little in the way of career goals. Having goals of any kind seemed silly as if you have zero energy, you can’t really achieve goals.

Three years later, I’ve made more money as a small business than I have in all of my years prior, and we’re just barely finishing up May! Whaaa?! And after a move where I’ve only been established here for just under two years?! Two nominations for Best Photographer in the local area, enjoying the company of like-minded businesses who encourage and support me on a regular basis, signing up for teaching photography workshops (not just 1:1 mentoring) and so much more!! Why is this happening?! I finally have the energy to participate in my own life, and I’m not just laying down, passively watching everyone live theirs.

Throughout this #BII journey, I have been keeping track of some of the symptoms and how I had been feeling post surgery in comparison to pre surgery, so for my 3 year update, I’ll share what it’s like now. Please remember, I still have autoimmune issues (AS, Fibromyalgia, and RA), so I never expected to feel 90-100% better. But I was so desperate for help, even 10% would have been worth the surgery. I’m happy to report, that after 3 years, I am still grateful for the choice that I made.

Breast Implant Illness Symptoms & Improvement

Inflammation – Improved 25-30+%
Joint Pain – Improved 25+%
Anxiety – Improved (not sure on %, but I do know my overall functioning is much better)
Difficulty Concentrating – Slight improvement – 15%
Memory Loss – This one I’m not sure on. Still not great, but that’s been the same since I was about 18. <– that’s what I had written previously; I do think my memory has improved some actually. Maybe not really quantifiable, but there are days that I do feel more together because I can remember more.
Brain Fog – Improved!! 50% 
Hair Loss – Improved – Hair growth visible, looks healthier
Depression – As I’ve suffered with this for decades at this point, and have had bad bouts even as recently as 8 months ago, I don’t know if it’s “better” but what I do know is that I’m not in bed as often and am physically doing more both professionally and socially most of the time.
Mood Swings – Not sure, but I feel confident it’s improved. 
Shortness of Breath – BETTER!! 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!!! ** Still better! Even when working out, I feel like I can do more and for longer.
Weight Gain – Not 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. <— hasn’t changed much. I had hoped that I’d have a bigger loss of the inflammation, but between hormones, medication, and not sticking to a healthy diet…well, I could still stand to lose about 10 lbs.

I’m adding to this list: what is below still just blows me away.

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. 

I’d update the Chronic Fatigue percentage to maybe 65%!! While tired, yes…I can function through it most of the time. Yes, some days, especially after event photography or newborn photography, or even just bad days when the weather is awful or some days just because, I need to have a down day. But it’s not weeks of down days in bed anymore!!

If you’ve kept up with me through this journey, thank you. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep up with this, but I’ll always been an open book if people ask me questions about my experience. I’m still passionate about this topic – not about deterring women from implants, but making sure they are fully educated both before surgery, and if they are having issues while they have them. I know SO.MANY.WOMEN who have #implants, and many have no issues at all. But I also know friends who struggle with everything from weight gain, to headaches, to fatigue and joint pain, and more. It could be from hormones or stress or an underlying medical condition. Or, if all of the above checks out, it * could * be because your body is fighting a foreign object that shouldn’t have ever been in your body to begin with. It’s worth checking out if you’re struggling. And don’t forget, I didn’t realize how much I was struggling with taking normal, deep breaths until I awoke from surgery with the ability to BREATHE properly. I also didn’t know my ribcage would be forever deformed until after they were removed. Sharing my story has helped nearly a dozen women (that I know of) with decisions regarding their health and their bodies. If you’ve experienced something like #BII or other implant related or health conditions, it doesn’t hurt to share when you’re ready. It might just save someone else’s life.

Small breasts, no breasts, large breasts — we’re all just women trying to survive each day. Maybe if we all focused less on breasts and appearance, the younger generation wouldn’t feel like they needed to change. Maybe the older generation would appreciate what they’ve been given and the years we’ve lived. If we all spent half as much time as we do on our appearance and more on helping others see their own true beauty, gifts and talents, the world would be a more beautiful, kinder place for us all to live in.

You’re welcome to check out the beginning of my Journey to Wellness here:

I also have 3-Week and 3-Month Post Surgery updates here: