BII Symptom: Brain Fog
Oh man. Brain fog. My first experience with brain fog was not with BII, but with chemo. Chemo brain is a real thing and it is weird, frustrating, and a bit scary. I've always had a rock solid memory. I can remember things that happened when I was really little very vividly, and I never forget a face (just give me a minute to remember your name). But once chemo was over, my brain fog began to clear up. It took some time, and there is definitely some residual effect, but it is so much better now.
Although, now, I question the residual effect. Perhaps some of my brain fog will last forever. I mean, let's be real, chemo is poison. I'm not sure I would've made it without it, but it is poison, nonetheless. I finished chemo in July of 2013 and had reconstruction in July of 2014. Almost exactly 1 year apart. In that year, I felt amazing. I was eating the healthiest I ever had in my entire life, I was exercising regularly and consistently for the first time in my life, and I felt the best I had ever felt.... ever. Even though I had just gone through intense, high dose chemo. I was so excited to get my reconstruction done and begin to move on with my life, especially once I had clean scans (January 2014).
But the Universe had other plans for me. Recon went just fine. No complications, but I did suffer from a massive blood clot in my neck caused by my port. That's a long story, and definitely for another post, but it set me back majorly and took about 10 months from the time I first started feeling symptoms to figure out what was wrong with me. After my blood clot, things just never got back to where they once were. There were a lot of times where I felt like maybe I was making headway and getting there, but I just couldn't get over what felt like an enormous bump in the road. And I couldn't figure out why. It was making me crazy.
I started to just feel like maybe this was just how it was going to be. I had been through so much. Maybe my body just couldn't and wouldn't fully recover. This mindset is so unlike me. I have this belief that my body can heal from almost anything if I give it the right tools, but with how I was feeling, I was beginning to get shaky in my beliefs.
In 2019, the brain fog came rolling back in with ferocity. I could feel myself having trouble following conversations. I couldn't find simple words. I couldn't even seem to make sense of my thoughts. I was so frustrated and so sad. I felt myself pulling away from everything I loved. Including people. I thought it was weird that brain fog would come back later after improving once chemo was over, but I was too tired to fight it or question it. I was beginning to just accept it. I started wondering if I had just been naive to think that I could ever fully recover after stage 4 breast cancer, chemo, radiation, multiple surgeries, and a massive blood clot.
Once I learned about BII, though, I was hopeful for the first time in awhile. Scared, yes, but hopeful. It all made sense. I had a foreign silicone object in my body. Of course it could be causing problems! I believe that anything we put in our body can effect us positively or negatively. Why did I never question that my implants would do the same???
I don't have the answer to that. The best I can do is just say that I was blinded by the excitement of something that would make me feel a little normal. I was told it was safe, and didn't question it for some reason (like I do/did with everything else). But it isn't all negative. Sure, all the surgeries and BII symptoms made my life way more difficult than it had to be, but in that time, I learned a lot. And now I can share my experience and hopefully help others out there think twice before getting implants or help them make the decision to explant.
It's been about 8 1/2 weeks since I removed my implants and my brain fog is so much better. I still struggle a little sometimes, and maybe I always will, but it is a fraction of what I was experiencing before. The world around me seems so bright and new! Conversation is coming much easier for me, like it always had before, and I don't feel so mentally drained that I can't function after either. I'm also finding my words much more easily these days. Again, I still struggle sometimes, but it is minimal compared to before. I'm reading again as well! I had pretty much completely stopped trying to read anything, unless it was short and to the point, because I couldn't remember what I had just read. I've said it probably a thousand times since explant, but I'll say it again: I cannot believe how much better I feel and how much more alive I am. It is truly amazing and a blessing. I keep taking little moments throughout my day to feel gratitude for the gift of my surgeon, the groups that helped educate me, the women I reached out to and followed on social media that went before me, and the determination I've had to help heal my body.
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