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Change Is Not Easy

So most of my blogs have been about my breast implant illness and all of the positives that have resulted from getting my implants removed. They have been based on my facts, research I have done, and the great improvements I have seen in my health. Today I want to write about what I have not shared before… the grieving process. 

One month ago I decided I was going to try on my bikini tops that I currently have at home. I had gone crazy buying bikinis last summer so I have a ton of swimsuits. Because there is such a size difference I knew I had to try on each one to see how they fit.  Insert meltdown….


See, for over one decade I bought bikinis with no cups, no underwire, no padding. With breast implants who needs all of those things?! All I needed was a thin piece of material and I could call it good. No way in a million years would I have ever predicted my implants would ever be removed. I was going to be 100 years old all wrinkly with saggy skin but perky breasts! #goals πŸ˜‚


I tried on 4 tops and my eyes began to water. The first top gave me a uniboob. Second top was way too large. I was excited initially with the third top until I bent over and the top hung off of me. The fourth one actually fit as I could pull the strings tighter, but it sure didn’t look the same as it did last summer. I started asking myself why I took my implants out?! Why? Why? Why?!

I texted my husband immediately while I was crying. My husband has been more supportive than I could have ever imagined. He told me it was okay to be pissed off and it was okay to be sad. For every situation I have been presented with these past few years he has been right there. From being a caregiver to a chaeuffer, a shoulder to lean and cry on to a somewhat deprived husband during my recoveries (😏 I say “somewhat” because I definitely get a gold star for being a trooper and getting creative… I’ll leave it at that!). He reminded me how poorly I was feeling prior to surgery and where I am at now. It is truly a night and day difference and apparently I needed to be reminded of that. 


I was still having a mild pity party when it was time for me to go to bed. I opened my nightly devotional and it talked about God having a plan for all things. I immediately felt relieved. I know this is all of a part of my life story and in time this huge change won’t be anything but a memory.



They’re just boobs. Isn’t this a perfect opportunity to be a role model to my daughters by showing them how to love your natural self?! BINGO– it hit me. I have now been given this opportunity to do great things. I don’t need implants and I never did. I am able to show women that even through adversity and trials that you can come out on top. Scars are not ugly. They tell a story. 

I am not saying there is anything wrong with plastic surgery, enhancements etc. I am not against it one bit. As for breast augmentation surgery, I do feel like the studies have been skewed tremendously and women are not being educated on the potential risks other than the short term surgical risks. The majority of studies done on breast implants are being done for the first 3-6 years after breast implant insertion. Shouldn’t there be long term studies?! I had mine for almost a decade before noticing any symptoms. I have spoken to women who have had the same breast implants in their body for over 20 years and continue to complain of weird symptoms that doctors cannot figure out. And now the FDA has linked cancer to implants! More and more women are taking a stand and choosing health over beauty.

Despite knowing I needed to take charge of my health and get those toxic bags out of my body I still have my moments of missing my implants. Will I experience this a couple of years from now? I am unsure. I would hope not. As my husband reminds me there is so much more to me then those implants. 

Bikini sadness….. it is my current reality, but I think it’s more because of the change and not the implants themselves. Although I may look quite different than last summer I am going to embrace my new look. The perks of having smaller boobs…

  • I no longer have to worry about falling out of my swimsuit tops. Fun Stacy fact: I was vacationing in Mexico a couple of years back with my husband and our friends. We were playing in the ocean and every wave that crashed against us took my top off. It was hilarious but also quite embarrassing. I finally was annoyed enough that I called it quits and got out of the water. 
  • Shirts look better and honestly some of the bikini tops I have found look better as well.
  • Less boob sweat during a workout! πŸ™ŒπŸΌ
  • Sports bras aren’t as difficult to get on and off. Man, that was always a challenge!! Any large breasted woman who sweats while wearing a sports bra knows exactly what I am talking about!! 

So if you are considering getting your breast implants removed and are scared of the aftermath I am here to tell you DO NOT BE!! I was petrified and I am MORE than pleased with my outcome!! 

Change is not easy but it is worth it. I am kissing those implants goodbye! πŸ’‹πŸ’‹

Breast Implant IllnessΒ 

I have had an outpouring of women ask me about my journey with breast implant illness. I wanted to repost my original Facebook post here on my blog so people could refer back to this for information. 

December 21, 2016 

…….Tomorrow I am flying to Cleveland, Ohio for my pre-op appointment with the top breast implant explant surgeon in the world. Surgery is on the 23rd. Why the heck am I doing this you may ask?. Keep reading….

For 14 months now something has been off with me. I have seen doctor after doctor that tells me “well, a few abnormal labs but otherwise you look good”. I wasn’t “good”. I didn’t feel well. And why were these labs abnormal? I was tired and had this horrible brain fog. But as a mother and a wife I pushed through it. Then I got sick, sick again, and sick again. Something wasn’t right with my body. I tried to get my body fitness competition ready and it wasn’t responding the way it did the year prior nor the way it should. 

That next month, March of 2016 I decided to switch my almost 10 year old saline breast implants out to the newer FDA approved silicone gel implants. Little did I know my body was already showing signs of rejecting my saline implants and putting the silicone ones in just worsened my reaction. 

I recovered from surgery like a boss, but I still didn’t feel well. I started developing these debilitating headaches, body aches, my hair was thinning, random swelling of multiple areas on the body, and the brain fog worsened. I decided to see a naturopath, who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism (low T3, which is NOT primary hypothyroidism btw), estrogen dominance, low progesterone, multiple food sensitivities (chicken, cinnamon, dairy, grains, turkey… the list goes on), and multiple vitamin deficiencies (Extremely weird as healthy as I eat). Finally-Answers! No wonder I did not feel well! I was on the road to recovery, right?! 

Over 4 months of cutting out all of those foods, pretty much only eating meats and veggies and all organic, gluten free, dairy free (BORING yes but I was going to feel better, right?! #determined) I still did not feel well. “But you look so great Stacy” is all I kept hearing.
I started researching more on breast implant illness. Anyone who knows me well knows I am a research freak and I get very obsessive about topics I want to learn more on……. hey knowledge is power! This illness had been in the back of my mind for several months. I had heard about Crystal Heffner’s implant poisoning in the past. I initially didn’t think this was possible. Denial maybe? “I’ve had implants since I was 25 years old. It just couldn’t be. Why would I have issues years later?” is what I kept telling myself.

Now, after thorough research and talking to sooo many women around the country with similar issues I am certain this is what is going on. 

I called multiple surgeons nationwide and decided on the Feng clinic in Ohio. The earliest surgery date they had open was not until June. I decided to schedule as this surgeon is the best in the world and my gut feeling was this surgeon is the one for me. I want the best and want to have this specific surgery done properly (there is much more involved then just removing the implants). I wasn’t thrilled with waiting 6 months with as bad as I have been feeling. Persistently my husband calls the clinic in attempt to get me in sooner. He finally got through and persuaded them to get me in on Dec 23rd. After hearing my story she gave me the cancellation they had just received that morning-despite the hundreds of women who have been waiting longer than I have. We were hoping with me being on the cancellation list that maybe I would get in around March. But December?! 

Coincidence or a sign it’s meant to be?…. Adam gets me in 6 months sooner (and not having to miss the girls sports functions but yes I’m missing Christmas) AND there is a Whole Foods right by the surgery center and my hotel?! I’m a huge Whole Foods fan and what better way to heal than to fuel your body with the most nutritious foods?! 
Some of my family and friends have questioned my openness on this subject. Yes, I know some will say “well she chose to get the implants”, and they would be correct. I did. No denying that. I have one purpose as to why I share my story…. if I can help even one person realize their breast implants are slowly poisoning them or prevent one woman from getting implants then goal achieved. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you want to learn more about this or to know the full list of my symptoms. 
I have zero regrets. If I knew what I know now back when I was 25 years old of course I would have not gotten breast implants. But I did not. 

This is the best Christmas gift I could have ever dreamed of. So…. the next time you all see me I will look quite different and in time will feel quite differently! 
My breast implants never defined me. Just as they don’t define anyone. 
**Feel free to share this post to reach more women.** ALL implants shells are made of the same chemicals-no matter what is inside of them. Mine are still intact. No leak. No rupture. Breast implants can be a huge endocrine, hormonal, and immune system disruptor. They are made up of over 40 chemicals and over time my body has said it’s had enough of it. 
I am the strongest woman I know and I have zero doubt that this is just another mild hurdle in my amazing life. 

Cheers to smaller perky ta-ta’s and great health!

#breastimplantillness

No More Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

It was July 2016 and I decided to see a functional medicine doctor here in Wichita, Kansas. Something was wrong with me and nobody could figure out what was going on. I am a strong, determined woman and I was not going to just settle for hypothetical possibilities. I wanted an answer and I wanted it yesterday.

July 2016– I wasn’t messing around anymore. I wanted answers. Do these guns look like they are joking?! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

I saw a naturopath who spent almost two hours with me. I was ecstatic! I remember thinking how awesome it was that she gave me so much time to listen to what had been going on with me. I felt like we were going to get to the bottom of this. Finally!!

Before I left the appointment she recommended I begin a probiotic daily and she ordered several blood tests. It was going to be around three weeks before I would get the results of those tests. Ugh-three weeks is a long time to wait when you are not feeling well to begin with!

So many pokes
In those three weeks I decided I was going to go gluten free as I figured it would not do me any harm and maybe I was just experiencing a gluten sensitivity?! A very good friend of mine who a couple of us refer to as “Dr. Trudy” was certain I had gluten sensitivity or possible celiac disease. Dr. Trudy (who really has no medical background at all) is known to have great insight, but I will have to say when it came to my diagnosis she could not have been more wrong! Right or wrong though that girl was by my side every step of the way and you know how much I love you! 😘

Dr. Trudy!!! Do you get to take bathroom selfies with your doctor??
We traveled to Colorado a few days after my appointment and everywhere we ate I ordered off of the gluten free menu. I continued to eat dairy as I did not think I had an issue with dairy. Overall I did not feel like I was missing out on many foods. Prior to my car accident I had trained for a fitness competition and my desire for breads decreased, so I was okay with the sudden diet change. Colorado was a blast but the majority of the days I was putting my “game face” on for my family. I really was not feeling well. I was fatigued, had headaches, and my muscles and joints ached. I was not about to ruin our family vacation so I pushed through.

Lunch at Pie Five. I opted for the gluten free crust.
Car selfie fun
 

The Royal Gorge
Three weeks later I had my follow up appointment with my doctor to discuss my test results. I found out I had multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies (weird since I eat so healthy), had a sluggish thyroid, and had many “food sensitivities”. This explained some of my symptoms, while other symptoms were chalked up to be both “peculiar” and “likely hormonal”. At that appointment I heard the word “peculiar” around 8-10 times. Peculiar as in you have never seen this before?! Fine.. but just tell me that!! Let’s not just keep saying that word and move on to the next symptom. 

And I will do a whole entire blog on the “likely hormonal” diagnosis because this gets tossed around way too damn much. What does that even mean?! I have encountered 50 plus women who say they were told this as well and I am tired of it! That is not a diagnosis and it is NOT normal! (Sorry for the tangent!)

Back to the appointment….. So what exactly is a food sensitivity? A food sensitivity, also known as a delayed food allergy, manifests in many different ways as they can affect any organ system in the body and can take from 45 minutes to several days for symptoms to become apparent. The delayed onset of symptoms involved in food sensitivities make them a difficult puzzle to try to solve. Multiple times food sensitivities go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Food allergies cause an IgE immunologic response, while food sensitivities cause a response via white blood cells, IgG and IgM antibodies, and in C3 and C4 levels.

The immune system identifies foods and food substances as foreign objects and initiates an immune response triggering immune cells to attack. Chemicals such as histamine are released from immune cells to destroy invaders and then tissues become inflamed and damage occurs leading to symptoms.
How does one develop these is still being researched. Currently we know poor digestion, an imbalance of gut flora, chronic stress, genetics, overexposure to chemicals, and immune system overload play a part in developing food sensitivities. So did my breast implants alone cause this?… likely not, but they did cause issues with my immune system as well as the obvious toxin overload, so they were a contributing factor for sure.

In attempt to correct food sensitivies one must eliminate the offending foods for 3 months. They can then re-introduce the foods one by one. You then have to wait a minimum of 3 days before eating that same food again or another offending food. This way if symptoms develop you can pinpoint the trigger. Okay, pretty simple. I can easily cut out a handful of foods. 

I then received my list of food sensitivies. 😫😫😫 My beloved chicken. Dairy?! Asparagus and broccoli?! I remeber thinking… Oh boy-this may be a bit more difficult than I imagined. On average I was eating chicken once a day but sometimes I was eating it 2-3 times! Chicken was such an easy food to prepare and I LOVED it. I cooked it overnight in a crock pot and in the morning I would have 8-10 servings of chicken ready for the week. Some have said food sensitivities can be caused by overconsumption… I am not quite convinced about that. I was sensitive to several foods that I NEVER consume, so I am still researching this topic. #researchfreak

My food sensitivity list
Winner winner no more chicken dinner…..

I survived going actually longer than 3 months without eating chicken. After the first couple of weeks I was okay with it. I have learned to love salmon, sushi, bison, and other sources of protein. Currently I am not 100% back to my normal so I have not added chicken back into my diet quite yet. Healing does not occur overnight and unfortunately likely due to long term oral birth control pill use, NSAIDS (due to my ankle injuries), my breast implants causing immunity issues, and offer factors my gut and immune system is still a work in progress. It has improved tremendously though! I am hoping by the end of the year I will be able to eat any and all foods without any issue. Will I ever go back to eating chicken multiple times a day?… the answer is no.

I am unsure if my outlook on life has always been this way or if the past couple of years has intensified my outlook. “YOLO” is my new motto that goes along with my signature duck lip/peace sign look. Don’t ask me why I take pictures this way… I really don’t know other than I just don’t take life too seriously. I enjoy life! I enjoy being goofy, silly, laughing etc. And you should too! I laugh at myself on a daily basis. Whether it’s because of the jokes I make (I am pretty hilarious πŸ˜‚), the silly faces I make, if I stumble while walking (I can be clumsy), or if I make a mistake…. laughter is the best medicine.

The below photos are a representation of my summer 2016. Enjoying the ride!

img_5733img_8106img_7771

GOD BLESS!

“But Breast Implants are FDA Approved”Β 

It was June 2016 and I was still not feeling very well. It had been eight months of odd things happening to my body with lack of answers. I was still fatigued, lacked focus, and was experiencing brain fog and inflammation. My labs kept coming back overall okay. There were a few labs that would come back a little off, but nothing that would warrant further follow up from my doctors…. however I was not okay with it. Why would my CRP (C-Reactive Protein) be anything but normal? Why would my cholesterol continue to be rising? These were just a few of the questions that led me to do more research on my own #researchfreak. I tried my hardest to keep a smile on my face and to stay positive but it was tough. 

 
I decided to go see my plastic surgeon about a possible allergic or chemical reaction to my recently placed silicone gel implants. Maybe one was leaking and was causing me to be ill?! (Although my symptoms began well over 1 year before my silicone implants were placed, I thought maybe this was exacerbating whatever was going on). I had been noticing that my right breast had an indentation when I flexed my chest muscles so surely it was ruptured and that was why I was continuing to decline.

I saw my local plastic surgeon and first addressed the illness issue. He reassured me that there had been studies done in Europe where they followed some women for “years” and they all continued to be healthy. No adverse effects were found following breast implant surgery is what I was told.

—– months later after all of my research, I found that the majority of these studies in Europe followed women for only 3 years. Wow.. a whopping 3 years. Are you kidding me?! Let me remind you of who I am. I am an educated, intelligent woman with a Masters degree in Science of Nursing. I am a Nurse Practitioner so I have a medical background. I have incredible street smarts with admittedly some intermittent dumb blonde moments-lol. My point is I am able to conduct thorough, accurate research. I do not just google something and believe it is true. This was me researching breast implants for a good 6-9 months just hoping that my research would not point to my breast implants causing my health issues. The last thing I wanted throughout this journey was to have another surgery. 


Back to the plastic surgeon appointment…. Whew! I was relieved. I truly believed exactly what he told me. 

We then moved on to the indentation matter. He told me that the indentation was my anatomy and that the only way to tell if there was a rupture would be a MRI and that even if I did indeed have a rupture I would not be sick from it. He said he highly doubted I had a rupture, but even from a physical exam standpoint one could not be 100% certain unless I got a MRI.

—– months later I was told the indentation was not an anatomical issue. The indentation was present because he did not repair my chest wall muscle during surgery.

Back to the appointment… I left the office feeling a bit conflicted. I believe what people tell me. Maybe I am foolish, but I do not see the reason to lie or mislead someone. I believed what the surgeon had told me, but at the same time it was difficult to wrap my head around why my indentation was present now and was not present with my saline implants I had for 9 years. It was something that would not leave my mind. I could not find much info on this on my own so I decided I should start with a mammogram.

I was really 50/50 on whether my implants were leaking or not. I went in for my mammogram thinking I would be in and out in under one hour… boy was I wrong. After about 20-30 minutes of a cold, hard machine squashing my boobs the technician asked me to take a seat while the radiologist reviewed my images. About 15 minutes later she said they needed more angles. Score! More squashing (insert eye roll). The squashing did not hurt by any means but I was fearful it was going to cause a rupture of my implants. Another 10 minutes worth of pictures and then another 15 minutes of waiting.

“The radiologist is requesting an ultrasound to be done”.

Fabulous. Just what I was hoping to do all morning. At this point I was not worried I had a rupture, because that would have been apparent to the radiologist. I began to worry about something more significant. The ultrasound took a good 30 minutes and then the radiologist came in. He was not happy with the imaging so he wanted to repeat the ultrasound himself. He was quick… took about a 5-10 minute look and then was finished. He stated he saw some “lesions/spots” on the initial mammograms but could not see them on the ultrasound, so I was to follow up with repeat studies in 3 months.

I left the appointment in tears. I did not have a rupture, they found some abnormal spots, and now I have to wait 3 months to get answers. Part of me was hoping I had a leak and that would be the answer to my health concerns. I would get my implants replaced and I would be better, right?!

I ended up not having to wait the 3 months for a follow up as my health declined rapidly and my primary care doctor who is awesome wanted a MRI ASAP. Who all has gotten a breast MRI done before? If you have not I hope you never have to. You are lying face down, topless on a cold hard machine. Your breasts are hannging out of this contraption for an entire hour and you cannot move the slightest. How somebody who is obese or elderly and frail does this I don’t know?

A few days later I received the results…. completely normal. I was relieved that they did not see any masses, tumors etc, but at the same time I guess I was hoping for an answer. Just a simple rupture I guess. There I was with no diagnosis once again. Frustrating beyond words.

Throughout this entire journey there have been multiple “possible” diagnoses for me, but nothing concrete. I was searching relentlessly for answers and continued to come up with nothing for why I was feeling so poorly and it was extremely difficult. After each blood draw I would get my hopes up that this was the time I was going to have an answer, but nope, no answers were found. There were moments of sadness. There were moments I felt so alone in this journey, because no matter the support system I had, nobody could understand what I was actually going through. There were periods where I would begin to feel better and I would get so optimistic, only to get ill a few weeks later. Rashes, hair loss, fatigue, brain fog, sudden food sensitivities, inflammation, sleepiness…… the list goes on. THIS IS NOT NORMAL!


Although the FDA continues to state that breast implants are safe I have personally encountered multiple women with severe reactions to implants. I have followed thousands of women across the country with debilitating symptoms secondary to breast implants. I have personally spoken to close to 60 women who suffered from breast implant illness. These things are not safe long term. 

It has been a little over 3 months since my surgery and I am feeling so much better. My major debilitating symptoms have resolved. My symptoms that I did not think were implant related.. gone! Are all of my symptoms gone? No. Implants did not affect my health overnight and I was not expecting an overnight success. My doctor told me the rule of thumb is one month of healing per year of having breast implants. So for me, that is about 10-11 months of healing. 3 months post op and not a single moment of regret. 

I will leave you with this…. how many medications receive FDA approval, then years later get pulled from the market? What about the medications that are still on the market but we continue to see debilitating side effects from? How about the many processed foods that contain gasoline and other chemicals in them that are approved and we ingest daily? Sadly, just because something is FDA approved does not mean it safe.


GOD BLESS!

Heading HomeΒ 

It was the morning of December 27th, 2016 and I was officially 4 days post-op from my breast implant removal surgery. I was anxiously awaiting for Dr. Feng’s nurse to call me. We emptied all 4 drains and I was at exactly 30ml for the 24 hours. Dr. Feng requires you to have 30ml or less in order to pull the drains. Because I was right on the edge I was concerned I was not going to get them pulled. The drains were annoying and I wanted to get home. I was unable to fly home until the drains were removed. 

It was around 9am and Bryn (the nurse) called. She needed to discuss the amounts with Dr. Feng and then call me back. A couple of hours later I got the call to come in at 12:30pm for my post-op and drain removal appointment. Yippee!!!! I was so excited! I was ready to ditch that hotel and fly home! And of course I was ready for those annoying drains to be pulled!! We eagerly began packing our belongings. My mother, who can be a bit much at times was trying to pack up the entire hotel room. My plan was to leave the Hibiclens in the room as I should not have needed it any longer and she wanted me to pack it. I had to use the Hibiclens the morning of surgery to help cleanse the surgical area. Why would I need this again?… apparently mothers are always right… stay tuned….

2 thumbs up for drain removal.. T-Rex arm style!
We shuttled over to the clinic for a quick lunch. We opted for the tofu protein smoothie because we were pressed for time. YUM! So delicious! If you are ever in Ohio you need to try this!

Tofu Protein Smoothie
It was 12:30pm and I was called back to see the RN. She discussed everything that was going to happen at my appointment before she did anything. I sat in a chair and she reclined it back to where I was almost lying flat. She began unwrapping my ace wrap and then took my surgical bra off. I had imagined that this moment would have been glorious–like being free!…. but it was the opposite. I felt like I needed my breasts to be supported. It was just a foreign feeling to me and I did not like it. I did not look down. I was not sure I was quite ready to see what they looked like. The nurse then injected some lidocaine with sodium bicarbonate around the drains to numb the area. It stung just slightly. She proceeded to cut the sutures that were holding the tubing in place. Here are a few things I can tell you about my drain removal:

  • It was best to take a deep breath in and then exhale. Exhale as the drain is being pulled.
  • It was completely painless.
  • It was an odd sensation. It felt like something slithering inside of me.
  • It was definitely a weird feeling, but nothing someone should get too worked up about. The thought is worse than the actual removing of the drains. 

The nurse then continued to pull the remainder of the drains. The last drain, which was the most bothersome during my recovery had a couple of popping sensations as she pulled it. This drain was on my left side and I could feel the drain up by my collar bone. My left breast was the one I had intermittent pain in for the past 10 months or so. The left breast was also the one that the radiologist saw some “possible suspicious masses” per mammogram (later a MRI cleared any suspicious lesions). The left breast also had delayed healing after my silicone implant surgery. And of course, the left breast was the one that was found to have silicone fragments in it during my explant surgery per pathology. Left breast… AKA my problem breast.

After all drains were removed Dr. Feng came in to examine me. I was still lying down in the exam chair. She looked at my incisions briefly then we walked to her office together. I stood in front of those bright lights again and it was photo shoot time. This go around I was not quite feeling the need to strike a pose. She took several pictures then examined me once again. Overall she was very pleased with my healing and my outcome. My problem breast (left side) was more swollen than the right. She gave me a strap to begin wearing when I was 7 days post-op. The strap was to be placed underneath both breasts to help with the swelling and to keep the skin below the breasts lying flat. The strap was to be worn at all times and I was to communicate with the nurses on my swelling to determine when I could stop wearing it. I still would not allow myself to look down.

The miserable, dreaded strap for underneath both breasts. So happy to be done with this thing!
I went back to the nurses room where I then stood in front of a mirror topless for the first time since surgery. “Being squashed like pancakes is normal as you have been tightly compressed for 4 days now“. Omg she read my mind. I was wondering what the heck was going on! I am not going to lie… it was a bit scary looking! I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that this was not my final outcome, and even if it was I was going to have to be okay with it because my health was more important. Pancakes. That is all I could think of. Squashed, squishy, thin pancakes and NOT the fluffy ones you see advertised on the IHOP commercials. “Fluffing” of the breasts occur after explant surgery. Everybody is different. Mine began fluffing around 3-4 weeks post-op. 

The nurse then placed steri-strips on each incision, put my bra back on, and wrapped me back up in that awesome ace wrap (insert eye roll). She gave me my discharge instructions for restrictions and cleaning of the incisions. I was told no lifting, pulling, or pushing, and to keep my elbows by my sides for 2 weeks. I was to clean my incisions after they were scabbed with Hibiclens for 2 weeks. Of course my mother was right!!! Mothers are always right! So, when we got back to the hotel to get our luggage I grabbed that Hibiclens from the shower with an eye roll and a laugh.

Me admitting I was wrong about the Hibiclens. My mother felt the needed to document this moment.

My poor mother had to take care of all of the luggage as I could not lift anything for 2 weeks. It was already packed but needed to be loaded on a cart and transported downstairs. She gave me an incredible laugh as she was trying to maneuver the heavily loaded cart through the hotel out to the Uber.

She did it!
We headed to the airport, got on the plane, and immediately headed home. The flight was fairly speedy and I was pretty comfortable. I attempted to sleep but was unable to. We had to stop in Springfield, Missouri to fill up with gas, so overall was about a 4 hour flight if I remeber correctly. We landed in Wichita around 8pm and had a welcome crew meet us at the airport. My husband, my daughters, my father, my brother, and my best friend and her family came out to welcome me home. They are the best.

HOME. Boy I was happy to be back home.

That was my surgical experience. Minimal pain and really one of the longest yet easiest surgeries I have ever had. I will continue to write about my recovery period more in the future.

On a side note…. this was taken exactly 10 years ago today…. why did none of my family or friends think this required an intervention?! Clearly some dresses are not meant to be worn with a certain chest size. There are no words for this other than I am loving my smaller boobs! Clothes fit better. I feel better. It is a win-win!

Family date night. Dress gone wrong!
GOD BLESS!

CF Parenting Probs

Some days having a child with Cystic Fibrosis gets to me. Not the fact that my daughter has CF, but on how I am making an impact on Natalie’s life.

I often catch myself doing Natalie’s chores, picking up after her, giving her multiple chances after I have told her to do something and she refuses… the list goes on. Pretty much treating her as if she is a baby sometimes. Yes, apparently I am that mom. The thing is I am only “that mom” with my Natalie.

She is my “Peaches” and I am her “Purple Petunia”

When I stop and think about my parenting actions with her I become conflicted. Should I be irritated at myself or should I just keep on keeping on? I do think I should be preparing her for the future. Is her boss going to give her chance after chance? (Okay, so we all know Natalie will be the boss of herself. She has got her daddy’s blood and I see entrepreneur in her for sure, not to mention she likes to argue everything that she is told to do #stubborn). Am I setting her up for failure? One day she will be off to college and living without her mom and dad πŸ˜“ and will have to take care of things herself…. yes, the thought has crossed my mind just to move in with her 😜.

Although folding the clean towels and putting them away only takes less than 20 minutes in a one week period I still struggle with making her do that one and only chore she has. She has Cystic Fibrosis. A disease that takes hours each day to fight. Isn’t that chore enough?!

I also get conflicted with is it fair to her sister that I help her out with her chore and not help her with hers?! Man, parenting can be tough! Luckily, Natalie’s big sister Britney has a soft spot for her sibling and understands how Natalie’s life is different. Usually Britney understands, however she is a teenager…. enough said πŸ™‚

Big sister Britney doing Natalie’s CPT before she was able to wear a vest

A sisters love
There are moments when I look at Natalie and all I am reminded of is the daily battle she faces. I am reminded of the countless hours in the hospital and the doctors offices, the many lab draws, testing, and therapies that have taken place over the years. I am reminded of everything she has had to go through these past 11 years and it breaks my heart. Each day revolves around her disease. She has to wake up early, stay up late, and rush after school to get her treatments in.

Hanging with Dad before getting her PICC line inserted

Darn PICC line lasted 2 days…. now have to stay in the hospital for 7 days. Dad working full time. Mom in graduate school and working full time–yikes!

So yes Natalie, let me clean your dinner plate

Sure Natalie go ahead and leave your backpack on the chair…. even though the mud room is a 5 second walk away 

Of course I will grab your dirty clothes and put them in the laundry room for you

Yes Natalie, I will stop what I am doing to get you whatever you need during your treatments

Oh and while I am at it.. let me just go ahead and set up and then clean up your nebulizer treatments 

—And let me just clarify: Natalie rarely asks me for help. These are all things that I pretty much offer to do for her.

To me, there is no right or wrong here. My goal as a parent is to raise independent, wise, kind, caring, hard working, christian daughters. So, if I am doing that then does the “babying” of my child really matter?! Babying her could hinder the independence, although she is already very independent at her 11 years of age. I definitely will keep this in mind as I continue to raise my children.

Parenting a child with CF is challenging.  I am sure this goes for any child with a disability, a disease etc. Whether Natalie grows up folding those towels or not I think she will be more than okay. I am so lucky to be this girls mother and I am going to continue to cherish every moment I get with her.

This girl lights up my life
I would love to hear from those who have children with chronic illnesses or disabilities and how this has changed your parenting style!

GOD BLESS

Worse Than a Teenage Boy

For over one decade of my life I paid zero attention to or noticed other women’s breasts. It was not until I was around one month post-op from having breast implant removal surgery that I started to develop boob envy. I was lying in bed watching one of my favorite shows, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (stop judging me-it is a great show!), and I noticed everyone’s breasts in every scene! I caught myself not even listening to or watching the show and was only paying attention to the boobs. Silly, huh?! Isn’t that what middle school and high school boys do when they are around beautiful, large breasted woman?! “Look at the eyes boys, look at the eyes!”.  These women on the Real Housewives show are beautiful and all have very obvious augmented, large breasts. I began to tear up. I was never going to look like that again. I was never going to fill my shirts out the way I once did. This was a huge change for me and apparently it was finally sinking in. 

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

The watery eyes only lasted a couple of minutes as I forced myself to pull it together. I needed to “pull those tits up and get to that PTA meeting” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ (my favorite line from the movie Bad Moms).  I was being weak and stupid. I did not need to have larger, augmented breasts to be beautiful. Beauty to me has never been defined by someone’s breasts, so why I am focusing on it now?! 

A few weeks went by and I was really liking the way my breasts were looking. I was still having to wear a sports bra at all times, but they were starting to become less sensitive and more a part of me. They were “fluffing” and taking a more natural, rounder shape. My husband and my closest friends had already made multiple comments about loving my profile and how great my breasts looked for my body type. I was beginning to agree with them. 

Beginning to feel like me

Despite being happy with my overall look I would still catch myself looking at other women’s profiles when out and about and at the gym. I would have to imagine that most people who undergo major body transformations would suffer from this as well. You compare yourself to others around you when really why does it matter? It does not. It should not matter to me what my profile used to look like. It should not matter what other women look like. None of that should matter, but yet I continued to let it overwhelm my thought process at times. 

I was a little over 2 months post-op and was heading to Las Vegas soon. I have always loved, loved, loved Vegas. Getting all dolled up, dressing classy and sexy, and not having a single insecurity is what Vegas has always been to me.

Summer 2016 Vegas trip
Summer 2016 Vegas trip
I was fearful about the upcoming Vegas trip. Was I going to be able to accomplish the sexy look? Was I going to be able to still have that confidence I always exude? Fearful I was. You may be reading this thinking I am some woman that is hyper-focused on her looks or that physical appearance is all the matters to me. Well, it is not. This blog post is just a small piece of me. I am much more than my physical appearance yes. I am intelligent, successful, kind, giving, caring, hilarious…. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point 😜.

My Vegas trip was a success. Was shopping a bit of a challenge? Yes it was. However that had nothing to do with my breasts and had everything to do with not packing a single outfit and having only so many hours in the day to find the right attire, shoes, lingerie, etc. A woman’s life is so rough-LOL! As you can see I was full of smiles despite my cup size. I did not have to fake confidence as I found some outfits that really flattered my frame.

March 2017 Vegas trip in my first real bra since surgery
March 2017 Vegas trip… I would not have been able to wear this dress with my implants. #smallerboobsrock
Although I feel like I have had moments where I am worse than a teenage boy I am happy to say that I am overcoming my boob obsession. Will it ever go away completely? I am unsure. Only time will tell. All I know at this point is that never once have I regretted my decision of removing my breast implants. I am loving the way that I look and more importantly I am feeling so much better with those things out of my body. 

If you think you are suffering from breast implant illness and are scared of life after getting your implants removed… DON’T BE!!! I was petrified of the unknown as well and I am hear to tell you I would have done the surgery sooner if I would have known how incredible life would be after removal! Reach out to me if you have any questions at all about my breast implant illness journey.

GOD BLESS! 

My Ohio ChristmasΒ 

I took my second Xanax on the evening of my surgery day and slept like a baby. It was Christmas Eve and I so missed my family. The plan for the day was to rest, rest, and rest some more. 

My fam Christmas morning
I woke up this morning with a noticeable decrease in my neck stiffness. I chalked this awesome feeling up as a fluke or maybe that the nerve block was lessening my neck pain. (It’s been almost 10 weeks post surgery and I have not had one episode of neck stiffness or pain πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌ. Neck pain and stiffness has been something I have dealt with for almost 8 years now). 

It was around 7am and we needed to empty my drains. When I say “we” I really mean my mother. I had 4 drains and each of them needed to be stripped and emptied into a measuring cup. “Stripping” a drain meant to simply apply pressure and squeeze the tubing as one moves their finger from the top to the bottom of the tubing. The purpose of this is to attempt to get all of the drainage out of the tubing and into the cup. We had to do this every 4 hours. It took everything I had in me to be nice and not fake scream as if my mother was causing me pain. You’re welcome mom! It was pretty painless other than when my mother stripped the tubing I could feel pressure up in my chest. I correlated the pressure to the suction of stripping the tubing. I would not consider it pain. It was more of an ache or feeling of discomfort. 
Disclosure: not to toot my own horn but my pain tolerance is exceptionally high. I simply am not a wussy! LOL. It’s weird.. I can handle surgeries without narctoics but when my husband decides to randomly slap my ass I scream like a baby. I don’t dare slap him back because he will make it his mission to get me back… some way, some how he wins! πŸ˜‚

I continued to take my Arnica to help with the swelling, my vitamins to help with healing, a low dose 5 day course of Keflex (an antibiotic), and Tylenol as needed. That was it! 

I was wrapped in an ace wrap and had to wear my surgical bra for a total of 2 weeks. The ace wrap was annoying. I was swollen all over from surgery and the ace wrap made me feel as though I was being suffocated. My stomach felt like I was 8 months pregnant-blah. My hands, arms, and face were also so swollen. I knew this was just temporary but the feeling was not fun. 

Feeling great on Christmas Day

I continued to eat organic, fresh healthy foods.  I had a great appetite and was not nauseated luckily. I did have one mild dizzy episode which scared my mother, but I was not worried about it. The food was delicious minus one food that I decided to try. It was called the “Bella Burger”. It sounded interesting. One bite of this mystery burger was enough for me! YUCK!!! “Bella” as in portobello mushroom! Disgusting! I ordered a burger for some meat… not a mushroom! Otherwise my food consisted of soups, salads, and hummus. 

The nurse called me every morning to check in on me and to get the drainage output numbers. She told me to start walking around the hotel to help with the swelling, so I put my slippers on and began walking. I could not shower until the drains were pulled and there was not much on television, so walking we went. I did not even pack a book because when I am laid up I am unable to focus. My mind races too much on things I need to do or how I am feeling that it prevents me from being able to read and retain info. 

Sleeping was quite the challenge. I had to sleep somewhat upright in order for the drains to drain. Any of you sleep upright? Nope.. didn’t think so! It is not very comfortable. I won’t complain about my sleep because despite being uncomfortable in bed I actually slept pretty good. My body had been through a lot and it was going to get the sleep it needed no matter what. 

Christmas Eve Snapchat fun. There is only so much television one can watch
Wondering if Santa can drop my family off in his sleigh while rocking the surgical bra and ace wrap
 

My Ohio Christmas left me with a bittersweet feeling. My family was more than willing to celebrate Christmas before I left for Ohio. My brother and my sister came into town sooner than they usually do to accommodate me. My parents were willing to watch the grandchildren open up their gifts a week before Christmas. My children of course had no problems opening up their gifts early! LOL. And my husband supported each decision that was made along the way. I was saddened that I could not be at home doing our usual family traditions, but I was relieved, happy, and grateful that I was able to have my surgery so soon. I was optimistic that this surgery was the first step to getting me back to the energetic, fun, sassy Stacy I was born to be. 

Next blog will be on my post-op appointment, the scary drain removal, and the big reveal! 

GOD BLESS! 

From DD’s Back to Me

I slept like a baby and awoken with a sense of calmness… and a growling stomach! Nothing to eat or drink all morning-yikes! We all know how much I love my food 🐷. December 23rd, 2016 finally arrived… the day I was getting my breast implants removed. 

My phone was blowing up all morning long with phone calls, texts, Facebook messages etc. I really felt loved and supported in my journey. I then said a prayer for myself, the surgical team, and my family (as I always do). I decided to wear loose fitting sweatpants and a front zipped hoodie for easy dressing after surgery. I had already been told I would need to keep my elbows at my sides for a total of 2 weeks so getting dressed was going to be quite the challenge. 

Waiting in the Feng Clinic lobby for my surgery

My mother and I arrived at the Feng Clinic around 11:30am. I was ready! I was not nervous at all. I was actually very eager and excited. Sounds weird huh?! That is how poorly I was feeling. 

I checked in with the receptionist and immediately they had me change into my surgical gown and a robe. I then walked into pre-op where I had to answer a bazillion questions about my medical history. They treated me to a nice warm neck pillow… this neck pillow puts my treasured Hot Hands to shame! It was a glorious heat. 

Is this pre-op or a spa??!

The Anesthesiologist came in and asked me a bazillion more questions. We decided a Scopalamine patch was best for me as I have had a history of nausea with anesthesia. And yes I have quite the surgical experience. Between multiple hernia repairs, my breasts, and my ankle you could consider me an expert! πŸ™ˆ. The Anesthesiologist and I had similar sarcastic personalities and we clicked from the get go. “I like you”  is what she told me. I said “Well good, considering you’re giving me a shit ton of drugs and could make me never wake up… you better like me!”  We laughed. She was awesome. Dr. Feng stopped by after she completed the morning surgery to say hello. I was already marked from the day before so she did not need to really do anything other than ask me one last time if I had any questions. I did not.

I hugged my mother goodbye and insisted she leave the pre-op area as I had scheduled her some spa treatments on the 2nd floor of the clinic. My mother was hesistant to leave, but how awesome is it that if something should have gone wrong they would contact the 2nd floor and let the staff know and would relay the message to my mother.

Around 1pm I walked back with my nurse (who is originally from western Kansas) to the cold operating room and laid down on the table. The nurses began hooking me up to the monitors and an IV was placed. The nurses then tell me I remind them of Charlize Theron. Really?! I don’t see it. Didn’t see it that day and still don’t see it but ok. 

Comparison…. gosh she is gorgeous
The nurses began asking me about my family and home life. I started talking about my daughters and my husband and then………..

I woke up in the recovery room feeling extremely drowsy but feeling good. I remember my eyes feeling very heavy so I kept them closed for a long while. The only pain I had was my throat. I think my throat hurt me more than my breasts did. Surgery lasted a little longer than 5 hours so a sore throat was to be expected. 

Dr. Feng saw me after I was more awake and alert. She reminded me that the capsules would be sent off to pathology and I would know the results in about 2 weeks. 

“Everything went very well. Your implants were intact and looked brand new. Your capsules were very thick indicating that your body did not like your implants. Your previous surgeon did not repair your chest muscles. One side of your chest was cut higher than the other side, but I repaired them both. You also have an extra chest wall muscle on the right side. It is very rare and I did not know the name of it, but I looked it up and it is called the Sternalis muscle.”

She then asked me to take a deep breath. I remember thinking that was the deepest breath I had taken in years. I never noticed not being able to take a nice deep breath, but apparently my implants were heavy enough on my chest wall preventing my lungs from fully expanding. She was laughing at me because apparently in the operating room I went on and on about Freddy’s steakburgers, fries, and custard…. I don’t recall but c’mon duh! I hadn’t eaten all morning and no amount of anesthesia was going to suppress my appetite! LOL! 

Before she left she showed me the photos she took in the operating room. I remember seeing my implants and capsules, but all I really wanted to see was what my breasts looked like currently! —-insert glorious music—-there they were. “Omg” I remember thinking. “They look exactly like they did a few hours ago but just smaller!!!” I was ecstatic. Throughout this entire journey I had attempted to convince myself that it really did not matter what the outcome was if it meant I would feel better, but it did matter to me. I will admit that I can be vain, and I am okay with that as long as that does not supersede more important things.

The surgery I underwent that day is called a bilateral implant removal and capsulectomy with mastopexy via the en bloc method. This means both of my implants were removed with the capsules attached to the implants. I had another set of capsules from my previous implants that she also removed. The entire capsules must be removed or else you can continue to have illness as whatever chemicals, toxins, bacteria, fungus, mold etc are still inside of you. 

After I was more awake and alert I went back into my pre-op room to attempt to sit up and eat some fruit. I was tired but still feeling pretty good. The nurse administered 3 Arnica tablets to help decrease inflammation. I still had not had anything for pain. Dr. Feng does a nerve block to both sides of the chest and that lasts a good 48 hours, so I was really doing ok. 

Despite the look on my face I was really feeling pretty good!

Fruit get in my belly!

While I was enjoying my fresh fruit the nurse educated my mother on how to empty my drains. I had 4 of them and the look on my mothers face was priceless. She was petrified! My mother was going to need to strip, empty, and record the fluid of each drain every 4 hours until my drainage was less than 30ml in a 24 hour period. Average drain removal is 3-5 days post-op. She sure didn’t think she had signed up to empty my bloody drains! 

I took my next 3 sublingual (under the tongue) Arnicas and was on my way. My nurse wheeled me downstairs in a wheelchair, helped me into the shuttle, and buckled my seat belt. I was instructed to not pull, push, or lift for 2 weeks. I also needed to keep my elbows to my sides for 2 weeks because of the muscle repair. Those muscles needed to heal and the best way for them to heal is to rest them. The nurse would be calling me daily to check on my drain output, and with Christmas in just 2 days I knew I would not be getting my drains removed for at least 3 days. 

Our shuttle driver was phenomenal. He drove slowly and prevented every bump he could, and even wheeled me up to my room. My mother opened the door because remember no pushing or pulling for 2 entire weeks …so much fun… NOT! I am an incredibly independent woman and find it extremely difficult to ask for any type of help, so definitely was not looking forward to this part of the recovery. 

It was now time to attempt some food. When you have a surgery with Dr. Feng she sends you home with a signature soup and salad from her clinic. I decided I was going to try the White Bean and Kale soup. 



White Bean and Kale Soup

The ones who know me the best and the ones who grew up with me know how picky of an eater I once was. I depised peanut butter. I could not stand seafood. I would not dare allow food to touch each other. I am not that picky person any longer. I truly believe that back in August when I was diagnosed with multiple food sensitivities and was forced to step outside of my comfort zone, that it was preparing me for these days for optimal healing. If I was that same picky eater what in the world would I have eaten during this crucial recovery period?! Low sodium is a must to get your drains removed in a timely manner. Not to mention the majority of the foods high in antioxidants and healing abilities were unique to me. The soup was delicious. 

December 23, 2016 was a life changing day for me. I went from my DD’s… back to me. I took my Dr. Feng recommended vitamins, my Celebrex, my Arnica, and my last Xanax and called it a night. My mother propped up 4 pillows behind my neck and back as I was ordered to sleep upright for awhile and asleep I went….. that was until I caught my mom checking on me with a flashlight. I love to give her a hard time but I know she just cares. 

My mom πŸ™‚

From DD’s back to me….. and it feels fantastic let me tell you. No regrets!!! Below are some symptoms of BII and the chemicals that implants are made of. Please reach out if you have questions you would like answered!

GOD BLESS! 

Life As a CF mom

This blog was supposed to have been on my breast implant illness surgery day, however today my mind was focused more on having a daughter with a chronic disease. Let me start off by saying CF sucks. It sucks, it sucks, it sucks! Sorry— that just always makes me better. 

My daughter Natalie is 11 years old. She has Cystic Fibrosis. She was diagnosed at 5 months of age which was an absolute blessing. She remembers only a life filled with medications, doctors visits, and a mom attempting to force  her to eat every high calorie, high salt, high fat food known to man. 

Breakfast of CF champions
Hospital stay for 7 days for abnormal chest x-ray. Her body rejected the PICC line so we had to stay as an inpatient.
Her days are spent preventing exacerbation of illness through medications and treatments. My days are spent on the phone with insurance companies, pharmacies and doctors, refilling medications, checking to see which medications need refilled, assisting Natalie with setting up her treatments, and sanitizing her medication equipment. When she was younger we would sit down as a family and play board games or read books to help pass the time during her therapies.

Natalie doing her daily vest therapy. This shakes her lungs to help expel the mucus her body creates
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease which requires both mother and father to be carriers of the particular defective gene. You are born with it and when Natalie was born they did not routinely screen newborns for CF. They do now. She was diagnosed with CF at 5 months of age after having what we thought was a cold for almost two months. Her stuffy nose was not secondary to a cold, it was because her nasal passages were full of polyps and she could barely breathe.  

The amount of doctor appointments, medications, treatments, and hospitalizations my daughter has already endured is quite jaw dropping to most people. To us it is just what we do. We drive six hours for a 2 hour routine check up several times a year. We rearrange our living room so she can wear her vest where she requests to. Up and down and up and down we move that large heavy piece of equipment in order to make our Natalie’s life a tad bit less stressful. We pack multiple pieces of equipment and countless amount of pills and inhaled medications every time we leave town or when she is having a sleepover. Good thing I am organized, right?! So the thought of just quickly getting out the door for an activity or a last minute trip is just not very doable. Natalie swallows about 70 pills each day like a boss because that is what it takes to fight this disease daily. 

Great Strides walk every year in May-Wichita, KS
Handling multiple vials of blood taken like a BOSS

Because we fight this disease day in and day out we do not always sit back and take it all in. Yesterday we were told that Natalie needed another sinus surgery. Is it life threatening? No. Is it a major surgery? Not really. But you know what it is?…. it is another emotional beating for a mother. My daughter now has to have another surgery. She has to undergo yet another life delaying procedure because of this nasty disease. She will have mental and physical stress because of this. She will miss school. She will not be able to participate in volleyball and gymnastics for a week. This is not me complaining… this is our reality. And although we stay positive 99.9% of the time I am human and sometimes I feel anger. Anger towards CF itself. Why does this disease even exists?! 

What I would not give to let my daughter be worry free. Natalie is so strong, but it breaks my heart that she has to be strong. Doesn’t she have the right to not be some days? I know what it is like to have to be strong and it can be exhausting. It would be so nice for her to be able to come home from school and play like a child does without rushing to do her medications. Hours each day are spent on fighting this disease. 

Life as a CF mom is tough, but I would not change it for the world. GOD chose me to be this girls mother. GOD made me into one strong bad ass mother to handle all that comes with chronic illnesses. I wish I could erase CF from the world but I cannot. So we, as a family, will continue to fight this good fight until a cure is found. 

Stay tuned and follow my FB page Faith Family Fitness for more information on how you can help us fight against Cystic Fibrosis. We walk every year in May to raise money in hopes to find a cure for our strong baby girl. 


GOD bless my daughter who fights daily without a single complaint. 

GOD bless my daughter who is also my hero. 

GOD bless those scientists who will some day find a cure for CF. 
GOD BLESS YOU!