“It’s just part of getting older.”
“Welcome to being a woman.”
“I hear this all the time from women. You just need to learn to deal with it.”
“Here’s a pill. See you in six months.”
“I have run all the labs I can think of. They are all normal. There’s nothing wrong. I’m sure it’s just stress.”
“It’s probably in your head.”
“There’s nothing I can do for you.”
Every doctor visit was the same. Each specialist, each time, I was dismissed. I began to feel crazy. Maybe the doctors were right. Maybe it was in my head. Maybe this was part of getting older, being a woman, life, stress, hormones, and the list went on. They were all eager to dismiss, label, and move on. No one wanted to listen. No one wanted to dig deeper. No one wanted to seek to understand.
I began to feel frustrated. None of my symptoms made sense. I couldn’t seem to find a connection.
The symptoms read like a bad pharmaceutical commercial: weight gain, dry eyes, constipation, migraines, depression, sleep disturbance, IBS/gastrointestinal issues/pain after eating, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, joint pain, muscle pain, inflammation, vision decline, easily bruised, GERD, persistent bacterial and viral infections, skin rashes, ear ringing, food intolerances, slow muscle recovery after a workout, numbness in upper and lower limbs, anxiety/panic attacks. The list went on.
One day, I had a text message from an old high school friend. She wanted to tell me how her breast implants were slowly killing her and how she had had them removed a few months prior and felt significantly better. Her health had finally begun to improve. At first, I was skeptical. Could my breast implants be causing so many symptoms? Women have been getting implants for decades. They are even FDA-approved. That makes them safe, right?
She directed me to a Facebook group with over 200,000 women with serious side effects and health issues from breast implants. Most women have had their implants removed and have completely reversed many of their symptoms. As I read story after story and compared their symptoms, I began to see a correlation between my health issues and many of these women. The pictures of the implants that were removed from their bodies were horrific. The thick capsules, leaking silicone, and mold that these women were housing in their bodies were terrifying. The side-by-side pictures of the before and after surgery photos were astonishing.
How was our medical community missing this? Turns out, they weren’t. The human adjuvant disease has been linked to breast implants as early as the 1960s. However, the awareness of this link has been dismissed for many years leading the medical community to miss a direct correlation between breast implants and silicone toxicity.
Five months ago, I had my breast implants removed. It is a decision that took much courage but is one that I am thankful I made. In those five short months, I have seen improvements in over a dozen of my symptoms. I am hopeful that I will continue to see many health improvements as my body continues to dispose of the toxic residue left behind.
“Had you not shared your story, I don’t know that I would have ever known what was causing my terrible pain and fatigue.”
Reading those words posted by a woman who reached out to me a few months ago made the years of struggling to understand my symptoms and health issues and the frequent dismissals from health care providers worth the effort. What had not made sense for years and seemed like insanity and chaos in my head now presented with clarity. My path was walked, and my journey unfolded so I could light the way for other women to understand their suffering and hardship and eventually experience relief and love of life.
Tara DeArmond is a patient advocate.
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