My hope is that my story can save others from the pain and suffering that I endured. I want to reveal the truth for what it is worth and bring the darkness to light.
“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light” Luke 8:17
April 4, 2016
I was excited and ready to go in and have my adjustable implants done. I waited a long time before deciding to go ahead with the procedure. We were done with adding to our family and I was doing my procedure with someone I considered my friend. I had known him since 2003 when he first started in San Antonio. I used to recover his patients when he was operating at BMC. I felt I could completely trust him and so did my husband.
We showed up bright and early, had my relaxation med on board, nurse started an IV, got marked up, talked with anesthesia and before you knew it I was in and out of surgery. Went home and rested, everything seemed great!
I took a whole week off from work as ordered and had a sitter with me during the day to watch Lily while David was working and the other kids were at school. I had some soreness and mild to moderate discomfort but nothing too bad. When I removed my bandages things looked angry but I figured that was a part of the process. I saw the doctor for a follow-up and he said everything looked great!
April 11, 2016
I went back to work part-time with the doctor’s clearance. My role in the office requires me to sit for most of the day. I made sure to do no lifting, housework or any strenuous activity as instructed. I continued on my antibiotics and took it easy to give my body the time to heal.
April 14, 2016
I started to have leakage from my left breast and called the doctor right away to notify him. He told me that having some leakage was normal and when I described the color of it to him. He stated it was just ” Old fat from the manipulation during surgery”. He assured me it was nothing to worry about. So I didn’t?!
A week passed and I continued to have leakage but I didn’t think anything of it as the doctor assured me it was normal. We were scheduled to have family in town on April 21, 2016, so I rested as much as possible to conserve my energy. I was starting to feel tired and I had an underlying achiness in my chest throughout the day but just associated it with the healing process.
April 21, 2016
David headed to the airport to pick up his brother and I dragged my self out of bed struggling to make my self look presentable, I just didn’t feel well. The sitter was with Lily and I sat down to rest in theater room. The pain in my chest felt like it was getting worse and so I decided to call the doctors office to see if this was normal. I spoke with the nurse who told me sometimes people can have muscle spasms and she instructed me to take my muscle relaxer, so I did. Within that hour the pain became so excruciating that I called David in tears asking how far away he was because I wanted him to take me to the ER. At this point, I was panicking because I felt I couldn’t breathe and I called the doctors office frantically to let them know that I was going to the hospital. They told me not to go to ER but to go to their office instead. We went to the office, mind you I’m balling my eyes out in horrible pain. The doctor looks at my incision and he begins to lecture me stating that I must be doing too much. He told me these complications happen when you’re not resting enough, I assured him I was resting and not lifting or doing any vigorous activities. They did an EKG which showed some abnormalities but they stated it was because I was in pain. My husband being the doctor he is requested a CT of the chest to make sure everything looked okay. The doctor felt a chest x-ray would be good enough but my husband pushed the CT Scan. So off to STRIC we went to get a CT of my chest.
CT showed some free fluid but the doctor stated that it was normal and my body would know how to rid of it on its own. He stated it was nothing to worry about. He told my husband that he gets that he’s a doctor too but that he needed to trust him because <strong>he</strong> was a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and has been doing this for 21 years. So that was that!
April 26, 2016
As I’m leaving the office after work I feel a gush of fluid leak from under my sports bra to my lap. I immediately call the doctor. He asked me to go in the next day so he could suture up the spot where my breast was leaking from.
April 27, 2016
I went into the office to get my sutures placed on my right breast and again was lectured on how these occurrences are my fault. I started to work from home instead of going to the office because I had to be on pain medications around the clock. I was dependent on friends and family to take me to and from appointments, to pick up kids from school and to help me care for Lily because at this point I still wasn’t able to pick her up. She had just turned 1 only 3 months prior and had just started walking. By far not being able to pick up my baby was the hardest. Even holding her hurt because she would move and put pressure on my chest.
The leakage starts up again and I inform the doctor that there is an opening now above where he placed the sutures. He stated he was going to have to do a wash out the next day to stop all this leakage I was having.
I endured the most painful procedure! He opened up my left breast and took a culture(finally) from the inside. He then proceeded to wash out the cavity with sterile water mixed with Hibiclens. He had his hand in my chest manipulating everything, all this using <strong>only</strong> local anesthetic. I was wide awake, yelling, cursing and felt like I was going to pass out from the unimaginable pain. He placed a tube, sutured me up once again and refilled my pain medications. Then it was back to the only place I knew now, the couch!
May 2, 2016
I called the office to see if the results were in from the culture that was done. The nurse tells me that it was MRSA positive and that I would have to get the implant on the affected side out. I told her I wanted everything out! At this point, I was angry at myself for doing this to my body.She told me that I would have to wait till Monday May 9, 2016 because his schedule was full. I kept calling to bother about a sooner date and they gave me Friday, May 6, 2016 because he didn’t have any other time to do it. I expressed to her my concern of having this infection in my chest and how making me wait a week to do something about it would just delay the healing process. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. But my concerns fell on deaf ears, the nurse stated if they had any sooner slots open they would let me know. They never called back for with a sooner slot.
May 6, 2016
I went in to remove everything even though the doctor suggested to just remove the right implant on the affected side but at this point, I started having problems with my incision on my left breast as well. I didn’t want to take any more chances with my health. He said that he could deflate my left implant, not remove it and then after 3 months, he could put a new implant in the affected side under local so it wouldn’t cost me so much. I declined the offer. I held on to the hope of the fact he had at least done a lift so I would be satisfied with just that, at this point I didn’t want anything to do with implants.
I quickly discovered after the implants were removed, a lift wasn’t done. I guess he felt just reducing my nipple size and throwing an implant would provide the “lift” I had requested. My breasts looked far worse then before this whole process began. I felt defeated. I just could not comprehend all that had happened in these last 5 weeks. I questioned often is this normal because everyone at the doctor’s office acted like it was? And you have no idea how many times I asked myself “Why me?”
May 10, 2016
I returned to the office to get the drain pulled out. Doctor took a look at my breast and states they look great! Great?? Really?? Does he not see my breast are two different sizes and that I have a gaping wound still?? He asked his assistant ” Can you pull the tube out?” Her response was ” I think so?” I asked her do you know how to do it?? Before she could respond the doctor said” I’ll do it!” He was in such a hurry to get out of the room, he cut me in the process of removing the sutures that were holding my JP tube in. Before I could gather my thoughts after he pulled the JP tube out, he was out the door. He said on his way out, I’ll be going to Cancun, I’ll see you when I get back. What??? Wait?? Really??At this point I had lost <strong>all</strong> trust and faith in his ability to heal me. This is what he said looked great!!
May 13, 2016
I got into a conversation with my neighbor about this whole nightmare and she said ” Oh my gosh Starr you need to see Robert( Dr. Bertoldo). Little did I know I had an angel living next door to me, who to my surprise had seen many of my plastic surgeons patients before. All I could think when I heard him and others tell me that through out my journey was, ” Why didn’t anyone ever say anything?? Why didn’t someone speak up?? It could have saved me from what I was going thru. Barbara (my neighbor) said ” Robert has healed so many people”, she proceed to tell me that he would be home any minute and that she would send him right over to take a look. So when Dr. Bertoldo got home I had my ” In home” consult and he told me to see him first thing Monday morning with out fail. I could see the concern on his face but I tried not to freak myself out.
May 16, 2016
I drive downtown to the Nix Hospital to see Dr. Bertoldo who is a wound care specialist. He did a re-culture of the areas and sent me to get an ultrasound to make ensure there were not any pockets of fluid lingering, he told me when there’s any type of infected fluid trapped, it can affect the healing of the tissues and cause further damage, therefore prolonging the healing process. He recommended Hyperbaric treatments to heal me from the inside out since the skin around my surgical incision was looking necrotic and was damaged from the 3 times it had be re-sutured. Which now I know is a big “Do Not Do!!” if an incision is opening up.
I headed down to get an ultrasound and the technician discovers I have an abscess in my right breast. Dr. Bertoldo orders the fluid drained and tested STAT! Before the procedure, I called my husband with tears in my eyes and a big lump in my throat. I just felt as if this was a never-ending nightmare. When was I going to catch a break??What did I do to deserve this?? Dr. Bertoldo was concerned that my current antibiotic regimen wasn’t taking care of the infection I had and boy was he right!! I not only had MRSA but I also had Ecoli!!! The Cipro I had been on for a month now wasn’t going to wipe out either of those bugs!! Dr. Bertoldo wanted me to see an infectious disease doctor ASAP, so off I went to Dr. Zajac’s office that same afternoon. Dr. Zajac put me on two different oral antibiotics and about 6 natural supplements. He wanted me to follow-up in 3-4 days to take a look at my wounds and do another culture.
May 20, 2016
I walked into Dr. Zajac’s office with high hopes. I felt we were making some progress now that we knew what kind of infection we were dealing with. Dr. Zajac took one look at my wound and stated” We are going to add another antibiotic to your current regimen”, he said if this doesn’t start to help the next step will be PICC line placement and IV antibiotics for at least 2 weeks but up to 4 weeks if needed. I didn’t know what to say or even know how to process what he had just told me. I was a young healthy woman with no medical history, I didn’t take any medications and now I might have to have a pump to infuse IV medications?? What?? Is this really happening?? All I could do was cry as I stood there waiting to check out. I called my husband when I got to the truck and gave him the update. I just remember crying, feeling helpless and I could feel myself going into a state of depression. I just didn’t understand how all this came from what was supposed to be a simple breast augmentation. People do it all the time! Did they go thru this too??
May 23, 2016
I started my Hyperbaric treatments! I had to stop my pain medications to be able to drive downtown every morning. There would be no one to take me so I dealt with lingering pain from my wounds.I had to be at the Nix by 7 am to start my dive at 8 am, Monday thru Friday without fail. I typically wouldn’t get done and be able to get to office until 2 pm so there went my whole morning! Oh I forgot to mention I was still managing the practice thru this whole ordeal! And if your wondering, no my Plastic Surgeon never called, text, tweeted, emailed or had his staff call me to see why I hadn’t followed up with him. 2 weeks had gone by and he knew he left me with a gaping wound but he could care less….on to the next for him.
Little by little with the help of my two specialists, my wounds began to heal. Every day I got into that chamber I would go thru a flight of emotions, from mad to sad to just being numb. All I could think is ” How did this happen?” “I’m stuck here in this chamber day in and out while the world just keeps going.” My plastic surgeon keeps doing surgeries like nothing. All this pain and nothing to show for it.
I did a total of 20 Hyperbaric Treatments with my last treatment on June 30, 2016. I saw Dr. Bertoldo one last time and I can’t tell you how free I felt to not have to pack another wound, put on another dressing, not have to take 30 pills a day and to be able to exercise and to start picking up the pieces from this 3 month nightmare. I had a new found appreciation for anyone who has no choice but to depend on others day in and day out. It doesn’t take long for you to feel like your a burden to others and the helplessness and depression follow right behind that. I’m saddened that my plastic surgeon never was able to take accountability and just say ” I’m sorry for the way things turned out”…..” Let me know what I can help you with?”………something! I would see him out in public and when he would see my husband and I, he would scurry out the door. I did get the opportunity about 4 months ago to tell him face to face the damage he caused and how I endured the hardest 3 months of my life because of the surgery I had with him. I literally poured my heart out to him, looking for closure but instead he rolled his eyes at me and motioned his hand shooing me to get away from him. But God sees EVERYTHING and I find peace in that. He is my vindicator…period!
I wouldn’t wish my experience on my worst enemy and if my story can help save one person from experiencing what I did then all the pain I endured wasn’t in vain. I know that God uses each of us in his own way and that he will NEVER give us anything we can’t handle.
” Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all”