As I sit here getting ready to write an update about my breast implant removal surgery, I am in such a state of gratitude.
Two years ago I was lying in bed struggling with the decisions I had made in regards to my life choices and overall health. The surgery proved to be complicated and the recovery process even more so. They had a challenging time bringing me out of the anesthesia, I had secondary issues with draining, and got an infection which resulted in a need for a follow up procedure.
I was in a dark place, wondering what I had done to myself and wondering whether I would ever be able to function normally again. I questioned my reasons for getting implants in the first place, berading myself about the selfishness of the decision. I could not get out of bed easily and was relying on others to help me with everything. This included friends of only a few months. The pain was just barely tolerable and my body looked botched. My motion was limited and I feared that I would never regain full use of my arms and shoulders again. I felt broken.
I truly questioned whether this was the solution. Would my symptoms go away? Or were they unrelated and there was some deeper underlying issue that I was dealing with? Did I have an autoimmune disorder that had not been identified. Was all this pain and suffering for nothing?
For years I had been dealing with symptoms including chronic fatigue, with bouts of extreme fatigue, dizziness, lethargy, chest pain, hair loss, mood swings, depressions, weight gain, and inflammation. I followed a group of women online who were going through similar journeys, and before my surgery I found the group to be immensely helpful.
But after the surgery, the group became painful to engage in. Everyone seemed to be healing much quicker than I was. Some were even up and about days after the surgery, where for me it took about 8 weeks. There were some that looked better after surgery than I had even looked with my implants – and here I was with one tiny breast adhered to my chest wall in a puckered position and the other, slightly larger, but droopy with extra scarring due to the infection. What had I done to myself?
Lucky I learned that those who seemed to be healing well tended to have the energy and excitement to post more readily their success stories, where as the rest of us who had alternate paths of recovery were a bit more reluctant to share. After I posted about my own struggles, I got the love and support I needed – with a lot of mirrored stories. This was indeed helpful, but the journey of recovery was long and mine to walk.
Fast forward two years and I sit here in the peak of my physical health.
What a dichotomy.
For the first time in my life, I am treating my body with love and compassion. I am fueling it with clean foods and focusing on strengthening it through moderate exercise. I am no longer using and abusing it, or taking it for granted. I even completed the Marine Corp Marathon this past fall, without any injuries or excessive soreness after the race. I’m constantly amazed at the healing process of the body and am positively pushing the limits of what I thought it could do, daily.
But it was not an overnight process.
It took time, it took patience, and it took change.
I have cut out processed foods, sugars, and alcohol. I use my body and challenge it in new ways – staying active. I stretched and worked with my body increasing the demands I put on it, slowly and mindfully.
Yes, my body has pretty much healed itself. And yes, the symptoms of Breast Implant Illness have all seemed to go away as a result of having my implants removed, but it took time and it wasn’t without work, and I think that is a very important point to understand.
Just as getting implants did not solve my poor self esteem overnight, it didn’t take removing them to heal my broken body. It took love and nurturing. It took compassion. And it took time.
In my case, I am talking about a surgery to remove implants – both elective surgeries – but for others struggling with recovery, it may be an injury, a health related surgery, a weightloss journey, or a chronic illness you are dealing with. Regardless, of what your journey specifically entails or where you are in the process, I have three pieces of advice that will help you immensely in your process:
You must be patient with yourself in your healing process. It takes time for the mind, body, and heart to heal. If you move forward a little bit each day, you will eventually get to where you are going. If you try to rush the process, you will only frustrate yourself. I try to look a year out at all times. Where will I be a year from now gives me a lot more of a realistic timeline of the healing process and gives me adequate time to make gains. Take things in small steps so they don’t feel overwhelming, and before you know it, you too will be discussing your story two years later.
Secondly, you must be intentional about what you do. Be an active player in your healing process, don’t just let it happen to you. Do any exercises or stretches you are supposed to do. Push yourself a little each day. Fuel your body and mind with positivity – consuming healthy foods and optimistic outlooks is vital. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and in your healing – and if you don’t have those people currently in the physical sense, find communities online and engage there. Be the captain of the ship and steer the boat where you want to be. There are always elements of the recovery you cannot change (for me the aesthetics of my body), but there are plenty of areas to focus on that you can control (i.e. strength and outlook).
And lastly – but perhaps most importantly – BE COMPASSIONATE. Treat yourself as if you were caring after your young child. Forgive yourself for the mistakes that may have gotten you into the position you are in today. You can’t change the past, you can only focus on the present. A very wise aunt of mine once told me that focusing on regret is a wasted emotion – and she is so right! You can’t change it, so forgive yourself and move forward. If you treat yourself with the compassion you’d treat others with you’ll be able to move past a lot of the mental roadblocks that hold us back or arrest us in our development. So make sure you are coming from a place of love with all you do – especially in regards to how you treat yourself.
I hope the takeaways from my experience can help you with your own personal journey. If you have your own advice or stories to share – please join in on the comments – I love to hear from you.
Interested in learning more about my surgery or healing process – here are the links to my previous articles, discussing my journey:
Thanks again for taking the time to read my words. Wishing you all the best.