Life changes in an instant. Close your eyes- Please be present without distractions.
Picture yourself, reflect on your daily routine, what you do each day — especially the things that bring you joy. Before you go to sleep each night, do you practice gratitude?
I practice gratitude everyday. I wake up and I go through my routine, my life, packing in as much I can, always rushing from one thing to another. Missing friends and relatives, but sometimes not having the time to talk them or meet with them — not because I don’t want to, but because my plate is so full and my schedule is so busy.
As I sit here now, reflecting on my life in the middle of a pandemic, I can’t help but wonder, what I was running from, where I was running to, and what was the lesson I was about to learn.
Those who know me well know I am a private person. I share this journey with you, because I know what it feels like to be sick, to not be able to move my body the way I am used to, to not be able to think clearly, and have my children and husband wonder what is wrong with me. If my story helps one person, I would be happy, but I know there are so many people out there that are going through something similar, and I hope this helps you too.
One night, I went to sleep a happy, healthy strong person and when I woke up, I was completely different. My little bubble that I was living in had burst.
I discussed all of this in my blog post on my website, A Chapter From My Story (please read prior to “The Next Chapter”).
The last time I wrote in my blog was May of 2019. When I finally discovered that my breast implants were making me very sick, I had explant surgery to remove the silicone implants that were placed in my chest under the pectoral muscles, after a bilateral mastectomy in April 2008.
I planned on writing the next chapter immediately following my surgery; however, my journey was not so simple. Some women have their implants removed and feel better immediately. I prayed that would be me, but unfortunately my journey had a few detours.
Many things improved after my surgery – my eyes looked alive again, the Inflammation in my face and body went down, I could breathe in a different way, I had no more heartburn or acid reflux. My brain fog seemed better, I had more energy and I really thought I was on the mend; however, after a short time my health started to decline.
My body started to ache again; I had no energy, no strength, and the brain fog returned. I was always freezing and although I ate better than I had ever eaten in my life — I kept losing weight. My lab work showed no autoimmune diseases, but my inflammation markers were extremely high. I was also learning to accept “the new me.” I have never had a large chest and with my small frame my flat chest was in proportion to my body; however, this did not make it any easier.
I was self-conscious of my size on all levels. People used to stop me and ask me how I got such muscular arms. What was my secret. I was always active! Running, hiking, walking, yoga, pilates, the barre, weights etc..
When I looked at myself in the mirror I could hardly recognize who was standing there. “When I looked at myself” I was frail, weak and felt completely defeated.
After my surgery I had the scar tissue around my implants tested, and the results were astonishing- several bacteria and Lyme.
Between 2017 and the present I have seen many different doctors, had several different diagnoses, and at times I felt completely overwhelmed. I am sure that my doctors had good intentions and wanted to help fix me, so I was diagnosed and told I needed to take medications. Many of these meds did not help me, and some made me sicker by weakening my immune system. I am not judging, and many of these medications help people; however, in my situation they were hurting me. I became severely anemic and my iron and ferritin levels were dangerously low. I was referred to a hematology oncologist to figure out what was causing this. I had two IV iron infusions two months apart, which helped a little, but still I was not doing well. I was very sad and frustrated because I could not understand why I was not getting better.
When my daughters would FACETIME me, I would try to be energetic and happy, but at times it was not possible. Sometimes they seemed upset with me especially when I cried. I have always been strong on all levels, and always found a way to help everyone; but now I was weak on all levels and could not figure out how to help myself. I now understand they were not angry- they were scared. My 17-year-old son was the only child home, and I feel so bad that he had to witness how challenging things were for me on a daily basis. At times, I was unable to get out of bed. My son had intimate knowledge of what it was like for me when he had to help me do things like turn the knob in my car from park to drive because I was not able to. He listened to me cry, and rubbed my wrists for me, and was so kind to me.
A few years ago, my cousin Lisa posted something when she was at The Gerson Institute in Mexico about having all her teeth checked, and I never forgot this. I had crowns, and root canals, and had this feeling that something was going on.
In December 2019 I had major dental work done. I had all metal removed from my mouth- all crowns replaced and a tooth pulled. I had everything tested and there were high levels of mercury and bacteria. I thought that my crowns and fillings were porcelain, but in fact they were porcelain over metal and the metal was sitting on my gums and my body was fighting something that was foreign. Silver fillings are also called amalgam fillings and contain up to 50 % mercury, which is highly toxic to our bodies. Mercury poisoning can cause many problems, and my body was once again fighting something that should not be there, and this was making me sick. In January 2020 we moved and this took a lot out of me. It was a sudden move and I was completely depleted. I now had a house to unpack and my son was starting a new school, and once again, life was moving at a fast pace and I was moving in slow motion. I could not keep up.
In the beginning of February I went to visit my aunt and uncle in Panama. The timing was not the best, but the trip had been planned for a long time. I returned back home to California and a week later, we went to Chicago for my mother-in-laws 80th birthday.
This time, when I returned back home I became very sick. The move, the dental work and two trips took everything out of me. In the beginning of March one of my teeth kept hurting and I went back to the dentist. An x-ray was taken and I was told that everything looked fine, and my mouth was sore from the trauma it had been through. I have a pretty high tolerance to pain; however, this was getting worse instead of better. It was the end of March and COVID-19 had started. I paged my dentist and told her my tooth was throbbing and the pain was unbearable.
I was seen as an emergency situation and they took a CT scan of my tooth and it was infected and going into my sinus. I had to take Amoxicillin for two weeks. The tooth still hurt, but the throbbing pain subsided. My doctor told me that the antibiotic bought us time, but the tooth needs to be pulled and I will get a dental implant. Since I have my blood work taken every few months and I knew my inflammation markers were already so high- it was alarming to learn that they were off the charts. Inflammatory markers are used in primary care to diagnose and monitor inflammatory conditions which include autoimmune conditions, infections, and cancer. My C-reactive protein (CRP) was 114.5 and a normal CRP is under 8.0, and my Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was 60, and a normal Sed rate is under 30.
On Wednesday April 8, 2020 almost one year after my explant surgery, I went to the dentist during Covid-19 to have my tooth pulled. I had to fill out so many forms by the dentist and the anesthesiologist, and it was very scary because of the unknown.
The next day I woke up and felt better than I had felt in almost three years. I had the tooth tested and it came back positive for Lyme with co-infections Borrelia and Babesia as well as different bacteria. These are two different microbes that need to be treated, because if they are in my tooth, they are elsewhere in my body. Borrelia loves to hide in the joints, which explains why I had terrible joint pain. Babesia is a blood parasite similar to Malaria, which can cause heart palpitations, fatigue, joint pain, night sweats, etc..
I am sharing this information because knowledge is power. If I did not find the Facebook group, Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole, I don’t know if I would be here today. If I didn’t read a post by my cousin Lisa a few years back-that all her teeth were being checked when she was being treated at the Gerson Clinic in Mexico, I may not have had all the dental work done. I learned after many misdiagnoses and wrong medicines that I must be my own advocate, and listen to my body, listen to my gut, and don’t settle for anything that I am not comfortable with.
This may all sound strange, and I still cannot believe what I have learned and what I have been through. My strong meditation practice, mindfulness, and being in touch with my body and soul even when it felt like it was failing me has been my greatest gift.
I will do my best to summarize this so it all makes sense. I don’t know how or when I contracted Lyme disease. To contract Lyme disease an infected deer tick must bite. When you get bitten, the bacteria gets into your skin and then enters the bloodstream.
Tick bites are painless and not everyone knows they have been bitten. Sometimes a bulls eye rash is on the skin, sometimes the bite is mistaken for a mosquito bite, and other symptoms are flu-like symptoms. A healthy person with a strong immune system who has been bitten by tick may be fine. From what I understand, this was my situation. I may have been very young, or not realized I was bitten. Some ticks are as small as a poppy seed, and go unnoticed. If you are bit on the back of your neck and you have long hair, or on your head you may not notice.
I was strong and healthy, but then when my body started to fight the implants and then the metal in my mouth and my immune system became weak, I could not fight the Lyme anymore because it was too busy fighting foreign objects and infection. Lyme also like to hide in joints and other hidden places. It found its way in my scar tissue and my tooth as well as my joints causing extreme swelling, inflammation and pain. My body was attacking my own immune system because of the foreign objects in my body- my immune system was mixed up on whom it was supposed to attack. My journey is not over yet, but I feel like I am slowly coming to back to life. Getting stronger, more energy, less brain fog and the list goes on.
I isolated myself, because I was not myself and it took too much energy to pretend I was okay. If you reached out to me or responded to my last chapter and I did not respond, please forgive me.
This pandemic we are living in has caused a lot of uncertainty and change that we have no control over. I always try to see the glass half full and learn the lesson. The world was forced to stop and slow down, so I have been able to heal, and move at a slower pace- something I was never able to do. I have enjoyed family time where we can be present and not always rushing and running. I’ve had face to face conversations with my children and Face -Time and Zoom calls with friends and loved ones. I try to always be fully present when I am talking to someone in person or on the phone. I can tell when someone is doing something else, or checking their phones, and not being present. I encourage you to practice being present in your own life as well as with others. You may be surprised what you learn.
I am not a doctor and what I shared is my experience; however, you must be your own advocate. Do not give up, and if you ever feel alone, or lose hope there are resources, groups and people out there who care. I promise you- I will be one of those people. You are not crazy, I was not crazy, and please know you do not have to live in your story- the next chapter is waiting, and many more chapters after that. My son Eli and I went on a four mile walk last weekend. My daughters and I dance together and sing carpool karaoke together. They finally have their mama back. Thank you for taking the time to read this and please feel free to share.
I hope my journey continues uphill from here, and if there are detours- I will always try to learn what the lesson is, and why this is happening. I know there are many more chapters to my story- who knows, maybe one day I will write a book.