My experience with Lyme Disease and Breast Implant Illness

Starting to show symptoms in 2015

I decided to write this blog post because I receive countless messages daily from people who are sick and want to know how I helped myself get better.

It’s not the usual fun blog, but life isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s really hard, complicated, and confusing. It is often easier to show the good stuff.

Around the Fall of 2015, I started noticing problems with my gut. Many things I would eat would start an immediate war in my stomach. I went to a gastrointestinal doctor to see what could be wrong.

This doctor gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and diagnosed me with SIBO. It stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. He said if the medication worked, then I had SIBO. If it didn’t, then it was probably just some stress I had going on in my life.

It didn’t work. I was diagnosed with “stress.” Stress I later came to discover is what’a “wastebasket diagnosis.” A wastebasket diagnosis is where a person can actually be sick but the doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with you so they land on a bogus conclusion just so they have one.

I took my diagnosis and went to a holistic gastrointestinal doctor. I am happy to mention that his name is Doctor Farshid Sam Rahbar. Doctor Rahbar performed countless tests, checked my blood levels, and immediately started me on supplements to help things that were low. He also put me on a better diet.

At the time of my visit, Doctor Rahbar said my symptoms were similar to that of a Lyme Disease patient and asked if I had been exposed to ticks. Growing up in California and being mostly a beach person, I barely knew what a tick looked like. He said the Lyme Disease testing was around $1500 through Igenex and that I could test to rule out Lyme Disease. I passed, knowing that I couldn’t possibly have Lyme Disease.

After my visit to Rahbar, my health got worse due to something called “herxing.” Herxing is when you start cleaning up and changing your body and the little bugs that have been comfortable in there for so long start freaking out and make you feel worse.

Still sick in the fall of 2015

I came back to doctor Rahbar’s office to find my hormones, thyroid, and adrenals were all plummeting (I only then started learning how all these things help us, humans, to survive). By that point, I was bedridden most days and my iron had dropped so low that I had to start having iv iron infusions. Average iron ferritin levels are around 100 and mine was at a 7.

I took the “Igenex” Lyme disease test. My test came back positive with Borrelia (the main Lyme bacteria), with co-infections Bartonella (the cat scratch disease) and Babesia (a cousin to Malaria).

I have no idea how I contracted Lyme disease.

I don’t remember a tick.

I don’t remember any type of bite or bullseye rash (which is supposed to be one of the tell-tale signs) anywhere on my body.

I started thinking back to when I could have contracted it. Trying to make sense of things. I did have ongoing bladder problems, weird zap things occasionally in my brain, was tired all the time, and started cutting back on things that I would typically really enjoy. The best I could come up with is tracing it back to when my friends and I would hike at Temescal Canyon in the Santa Monica mountains around 2009. The ticks can be the size of poppy seeds so I could have had one on me and had no idea. I always just wore tank tops and cropped leggings. No one ever told me the danger of ticks and that I should be more covered up on hikes.

What is Lyme Disease?

For those who don’t know what Lyme Disease is… It’s basically a bacteria. A bacteria transmitted by a tick bite. It can also be transmitted from a mother to her child in the womb, by blood transfusion (they don’t screen for Lyme when people donate blood), and now they are discovering that it may also be transmitted sexually as well (it has been found in bodily fluids). I believe all of these to be true. There are many mothers and children who have the disease and also many husbands and wives that have it as well.

Lyme is just the name they’ve given to this specific bacteria.

The bacteria is shaped like a spiral, the same shape as syphillis (gross). Because the Lyme bacteria is a spirochete (spirally twisted bacteria), it literally multiplies and corkscrews it’s way into everything inside your body…. muscle, bone, brain, soft tissue, everywhere.

Once the bacteria gets comfortable, they create these things called biofilms. Biofilms are like a chunky mucous thing (ew) that the bacteria hide in. When you take antibiotics for however long, you can get some of the bacteria but not all of them because of all the bacteria that hide.

If the bacteria hiding wasn’t worse enough, you never know where it’s going to be the most concentrated or do the most damage – leading to many misdiagnoses. I believe that so many people in the country have Lyme disease and don’t realize it yet.

  • Someone from a documentary I watched was told they had ALS and soon would need a wheelchair. They found out they had Lyme and once they treated the Lyme, they got better. I have also heard the same about MS, ME, and a host of other illnesses we don’t know the root of.
  • My cousin was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (nerve and muscle pain all over her body) but later found out that the root cause was the Lyme disease bacteria.
  • I had fatigue, gut issues, and a host of other things start malfunctioning and that’s how I knew there was something wrong which led to the Lyme diagnosis.

Lyme bacteria manifests differently in everyone. It’s worth looking into if you have something funky going on and don’t feel right. Follow your instinct. Even if it may not be Lyme, it is always good to figure out anything you may have going on so that you can address it and feel better.

Below is my list of complete symptoms I had. I kept the list handy with the hopes that some of the symptoms would improve over time. Many are gone now.

My Lyme Disease symptoms

  • Brain fog
  • Poor memory
  • Zaps in brain
  • Clicking in wrist
  • Popping bones
  • Joint pain
  • Tendon pain
  • Bladder pain
  • Bone pain
  • Hot vein/ rush feeling in back
  • Heart palpitations
  • Night sweats
  • Can’t regulate body temperature
  • Neck stiffness
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Food Allergies
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss
  • Severe fatigue / ME
  • Muscle spasms
  • Balance issues
  • Jumpy/anxious

Early 2016

Doctor Rahbar referred me to a wonderful Lyme disease specialist who started me on antibiotics right away. We were in “kill the bugs” mode. Kicking their butts and using all artillery possible. I was on so many antibiotics at one time. Every six weeks, I would change to a new set of antibiotics in hopes that one would really help cure me of the Lyme bacteria.

While I was chipping away at the Lyme Disease and restoring my immune system, I posted a little bit about my Lyme journey on social media.

I posted about my diagnosis and also posted my symptoms.

Somewhere in my comments, a couple of women mentioned that my symptoms sound a lot like that of “Breast Implant Illness.” Wherever you are now, thank you so much.

Breast Implant Illness

I started researching Breast Implant Illness and came across a website that I found VERY helpful. It is called HealingBreastImplantIllness.com.  I also found a Facebook group that has thousands of members who are ALL sick from their implants. They were all suffering from a range of things: autoimmune issues, thyroid problems, fatigue, aches, pains, soreness, not having a sex drive, and not being able to get pregnant. People get implants to feel sexy but all of these women were feeling the exact opposite.

Keep in mind that this can apply to ANY implant in your body, medically necessary or not. I’ve spoken to women who have started showing symptoms from something as small as an IUD. Anything foreign to you body and that is not conducive to your natural state will set your immune system into attack mode and it will never cease until the implant is removed. The implanted device makes the immune system weaker and it becomes harder to fight off other things in your body from the cancers to the common cold.

Some people have incredible immune systems and can live out the rest of their lives and be a tank with an implant, but I am not one of those people. I already had a weak immune system before implants and adding the implants along with all the toxic stuff we are exposed to on a daily basis, I had no chance.

I use the analogy of a nightclub when speaking about my breast implants and Lyme disease. I believe that while the bouncers in the front are busy breaking up a fight (my body trying to fight the implants) people can start sneaking in the back (Lyme Disease). I believe my immune system was so busy fighting the implants that the Lyme was able to get in and multiply at an alarming rate, unnoticed. By the time by body started giving up, everything had been affected.

My implants needed to go

I spoke to my Lyme doctor about my implants and came to the realization that I would never get completely well if I left them in since my immune system was constantly battling the implants and not using its full capacity to fight the Lyme Disease. I needed to get my immune system to 100% to fight the Lyme bacteria and in a perfect world, when that’s done, give it a much-needed break. Next, it was where to go and who to trust to take my implants out. I definitely didn’t want to go back to the same doctor who put them in without telling me the truth of how much they can damage you. I just tell myself that he probably didn’t realize, to make myself feel better.

I am so lucky to have found Doctor Lu-Jean Feng through reading the journey of Yolanda Hadid. I do believe Doctor Feng is the best in the country at implant removal and I recommend her to everyone who asks me about my explant. Doctor Feng only does removals and understands the true dangers of implants inside the body. Her website is FengClinic.com

Doctor Feng performs a total en-bloc which means that she makes sure to get the scar tissue/capsule surrounding the implant in addition to the implant itself. If the capsule is left in, it’s still filled with toxic chemicals and you will continue to be sick.

Implants are ridden with toxic chemicals. I need to be clear that mine didn’t rupture. They didn’t need to. My immune system was overloaded with trying to fight all the non natural chemicals in them… some including talc, formaldehyde, etc. It’s disgusting. My implants were saline but still had a silicone shell. People think they are safe because they are FDA approved but so many things get approved by the FDA and then retracted.

A realization 8 years in the making

It took eight years for me to realize I was getting sick from my implants. These implants were wreaking havoc in my body for eight whole years. A year or so after my initial implants in 2008, I had a capsule contracture where the scar tissue forms extra tight around the implant making it hard and look like a rock. Little did I know, this was my body trying to get rid of the implant. I had it removed and redone. So many women don’t realize this and have countless procedures. At the end of the day, they will have to come out. Either that or you will just keep butchering your breasts.

On June 15, 2016, I had a Bilateral Periprosthetic Capsulectomy – Breast Implant Removal and Lift. With my initial implants in 2008, I had gone from a B cup to a full D so I felt I needed to have the lift done, just to be sure I wouldn’t have loose or stretched out skin.

I was pretty weak during that whole procedure but Dr. Feng and the staff at Feng Clinic are used to working with really sick people. They are amazing. The Feng Clinic a very holistic facility that is health and wellness-focused. Thank you Dr. Feng. Thank you Linda. Thank you Karla, Tina, and everyone else for your caring nature and expertise. I felt in such good hands with all of you.

Check out my forbes article on Implant Illness here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2016/07/24/crystal-hefner-shows-why-you-shouldnt-get-breast-implants/#6428c0631c45

There IS an alternative to breast implants and that is fat transfer. Fat transfer is taking natural fat from around your body and placing it in your breasts. Feng Clinic also performs fat transfer.

Upon returning home to Los Angeles from Doctor Feng’s Cleveland clinic, My Lyme doctor and I went back to work on the Lyme Disease.

I was on a rotation of every antibiotic I can think of and combining antibiotics with herbal remedies and other supplements. After a full year, I think we took a lot of the Lyme bacteria load down.

I re-tested with Igenex labs to see if I still had Lyme Disease at the end of 2016. I was so nervous to get the results after all of the treatments.

The problem with Lyme Disease testing

I have to mention that the testing for Lyme disease is so messed up. There are only a few labs that actually know what they are doing. Igenex is a very reputable one. A lot of labs will give false positives or false negatives. So someone struggling may get a result saying they don’t have Lyme when they actually do and vice versa. It’s really important to find a lab or a doctor who can test with a reputable company.

Early 2017

I still had Lyme Disease. Loud and clear. The bacteria and its co-infections were still present.

The next step was taking intravenous antibiotics. My doctor explained that IV antibiotics crossed the blood-brain barrier and were faster acting. My gut was beyond destroyed at this point from both the antibiotics and my original symptoms. My body was filled with candida from having killed off all the good bacteria with the antibiotics.

There had to be another option…

I had followed a young man’s story on Facebook who had pretty crippling Lyme disease. He mentioned he was going to a stem cell clinic. When I first heard about stem cells, it kind of freaked me out. It reminded me of a science experiment, cloning, or A.I. – all that weird stuff.

Stem cells are amazing

Turns out, its pretty natural. The procedure involves taking fat from your own body and harvesting your own stem cells from your fat. Once the stem cells are harvested, they reintroduce them back into your body via an IV. As stem cells were on my mind, one of my best friends, Amanda Vanderpool, mentioned that she knew of someone who had stem cells two years prior and they were doing really well. This was enough for me to want to give it a shot.

both of these Lyme patients had gone to Infusio founded by Doctor Phillip Battiade. Their website is Infusio.org. They are based out of Germany but just so happened to have opened a new office in Beverly Hills, a handful of minutes from me. It was fate. I had to go.

I went to Infusio and met a woman named Erika Schlick who worked there and was 9 months post stem cells and doing much better. I scheduled to be a part of the program that day.

The program was 10 days long and included a series of IVs each day that optimized your body for the stem cells. Infusio really got my body in the best shape it could have been in at the time with all of their therapies and vitamins. On the tenth day, procedure day, the stem cells were harvested and injected back in.

I was on cloud nine that day. Infusio gave me hope. I got my stem cells in March of 2017.

The timeline I was given at Infusio was 100 days. I was told that the stems did most of their work from 100 days up until one year after the program. At 100 days, I wasn’t much better. I was starting to think that maybe this wasn’t going to work for me. It wasn’t until around 9 months that I started noticing changes. My symptoms had just slowly been melting away without my realizing. I was getting better. I wasn’t allergic to foods that I once was, my body wasn’t hurting as much, my mind became clearer, I had more energy, and I was able to start doing things that I hadn’t been able to since I got sick.

I only continued to improve from there. I credit Infusio for regaining my life and my health back. If it weren’t for stem cells, I don’t think my health would be what it is today. I am around 80% better. I have been doing a lot of traveling to make the most of the way I currently feel. I also take daily supplements and try to eat clean and healthy to keep my immune system at peak performance. I wear, eat, and use organic products whenever possible, and only wear makeup when I have to.

I am not sure if there is an end-all be-all cure for Lyme disease. I have my good days and bad days but I hope that my story helps those of you looking for guidance and answers. Thank you for reading.

Love,

Crystal

Photos were taken at Byron Bay in New South Wales, Australia

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9 Comments

  1. September 21, 2018 / 8:26 pm

    Dear Ms. Hefner,

    Thank you for your courageous and inspiring work. I’d love to have you on to talk about your struggle with Lyme disease as well as several other topics.

    I am interviewing the wise and awakened from around the world on my What Matters Most podcast in effort to assemble the wisdom essential for our collective to survive and soar.

    We have had the privilege of interviewing wide scope of people from Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Dakota Sioux, Ndaba Mandela, Mexican President Vincente Fox, Byron Katie, Congressman Tim Ryan, Marianne Williamson, Father Richard Rohr, Parez Ahmed, Patti Austin, Adyashanti, Gangaji, Krishna Das, Rob Bell, and Rabbi Michael Lerner.

    We have a broad demographic with a strong concentration in the fields of education, public service and small business. Our email list includes powerful CEO’s and small town farmers.

    I want to use my worldwide platform to bring your timely words of wisdom and unique perspective, to my listeners, for with each person we can touch and inspire, we move closer to a more enlightened society.

    Knowing the demands on your time must be extraordinary; we can completely work the interview around your schedule. (Figure 30-40 minutes via Skype-audio or phone)

    I look forward to hearing from you, and hope you will honor us with an appearance.

    Come and join the global conversation!

    All the best,
    Paul Samuel Dolman

  2. Amy
    September 24, 2018 / 5:38 pm

    This is exactly it. ??? thank you for sharing your story.

  3. September 24, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    Wow ! You are amazing
    I also suffer from Breast Implant Illness daily
    Thank you for sharing !!!!!!!!

  4. Melissa Tucker
    September 24, 2018 / 9:39 pm

    Thank you, Crystal!

    I was in the same implant group with you and also have Lyme and made sure to give you a heads up about getting tested. Happy you are still fighting this fight with us. I too live in LA.

  5. Ashley
    September 25, 2018 / 8:07 am

    Crystal,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You should see a functional doctor about Lyme. The frequent use of antibiotics is very hard on your body. https://ccfmed.com Please see them.

  6. Merita Haley
    September 26, 2018 / 7:44 am

    Crystal, your story saved me. Several years ago I read about your discovery that your implants had made you sick and that removing them started your recovery. It had never occurred to me that mine could be causing all my issues. No doctor had ever suggested it either, even though my implant surgery was on all my records and I was getting tests and treatments regularly. After reading your story and doing research, I found Nicole’s site and finally got mine removed. What a difference! Thank you so very much!!!!

  7. Sarina Chandra
    September 26, 2018 / 3:28 pm

    Can I ask who did your dental work?

  8. September 27, 2018 / 10:22 am

    Thank you for your courage to speak on this illness that most people laugh at. I have been sick since implants, went from post op recovery to complete debilitating pain that left me unable to walk. I received my implants in 2013 and have dealt with this since on top of debilitating fatigue and inflammation. I am 100% I’ll from these things and I need them out. I got 600 cc Saline that the PS took upon herself to fill to 650cc which means with removal I will need a lift. Due to illness it has prohibited me from working and financially surgery is impossible…… So here I am today just frothing over everyone else’s explant stories somberly wondering when my chance to being normal again will take place, my 5 kids and husband need me ?

  9. Kelley
    October 5, 2018 / 9:21 am

    Crystal you are absolutely amazing! I can’t thank you enough for spreading the word. I also suffer from Breast implant illness. I have had my implants for 12+ year I had symptoms early on but it was not until 5 years ago when health got really really bad. I have gone back and forth with thinking they could be the root of my horrible laundry must of symptoms. Once I realized they were the cause I was devastated and embarrassed to get them removed. After viewing your website and Facebook page I could not be more excited. You look so beautiful without them. You are glowing and fill of life. Now when I look down at mine I hate them they remind me of hell and torture the life I’ve been robbed of. I can’t wait to get explanat surgery I think I will finally feel true beauty. And more important regain my health.

    I can’t thank you enough for your courage. I’m sorry you are still dealing with Lymes Disease and I hope you have less and less bad days and more and more good days 🙂 Sending love and healing prayers.

    Many Blessings to you xoxo

    P.S. You even inspired me to go back to my natural color, light brown

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