Jeannie Bartholomew: Getting it Off Your Chest

Jeannie Bartholomew is a professional skydiver. She holds 19 Female Canopy Piloting records, is currently the top female Freestyle canopy pilot in the world, represented the US Parachute Team in Canopy Piloting 8 times in her career, and holds countless medals and trophies. She is also an owner and instructor at the Alter Ego Project and has been teaching all levels of canopy piloting for the past 12 years. 

Five years ago though, her health began to take a turn for the worse. She was in peak physical shape, but her body started shutting down. The symptoms seemed completely unrelated.

  • Numbness and tingling in extremities
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurry vision 
  • Recurring sinus infections
  • Vertigo/dizziness
  • Ear pressure and loss of hearing
  • Shooting pains
  • Muscle spasms
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Panic attacks
  • Full body rashes
  • Inability to breathe
  • Inability to walk
  • Lack of strength
  • Joint pain

Jeannie saw over 10 different doctors, had 2 surgeries, countless hospital visits across the world, and had about every test imaginable. All the tests came back normal and she still had no answer for her broad array of symptoms. 

By 2022, her symptoms had gotten so bad that at times she couldn’t breathe, walk or even carry her purse. Her husband Curt had to wash, brush and dry her hair. She was so weak, he had to feed her.

At this point, Jeannie was coming to terms with the fact that this mystery illness would kill her. She began to make end-of-life arrangements when her mom told her, “You’re the most stubborn kid I’ve had. And you would never give up on anything. And you’re telling me that because these stupid doctors don’t know what’s wrong with you that you’re just gonna give up on yourself, and you’re just gonna die?” 

That was the swift kick in the pants she needed to take matters into her own hands. She had googled individual symptoms as the illness progressed, and all those searches were fruitless. So she compiled a list of all her symptoms, added “autoimmune disease” and tried again. This time, near the top of the results, there it was: Breast Implant Illness.

“I have breast implants, what is Breast Implant Illness?” Jeannie thought. And down the rabbit hole she went. She found several Facebook groups with hundreds of thousands of women experiencing exactly the same symptoms she had. How could all these women experience almost exactly all the same symptoms she had, and then get better after removing their implants? 

In her quest for knowledge on the subject, she discovered that the silicone used for breast implants is actually quite toxic, carrying a black label warning– the highest safety-related warning that medications can have assigned by the FDA.

It’s important to note that this type of illness is not limited to just breast implants. Similar symptoms have been found in people with Botox, and other types of medical implants, such as IUDs, and certain medical implants such as artificial joints. There are two factors to this illness, the actual poisoning from the materials, and the autoimmune response your body can have against a foreign object inside you.

Jeannie got her explant in September 2022. Although she still experiences waves of fatigue as her body continues to detox, she’s for the most part back to feeling like herself. 

Throughout this experience, Jeannie continued to compete. She won the Italian Swoop Tour at Skydive Flygang and earned countless podiums and records. At her sickest, she placed second overall at the 2022 USPA CP Freestyle Nationals and earned a spot on two US teams.

Jeannie is an undeniable rock star parachute pilot, and even more so a rock star for sharing her story in case it might help other women who might be facing the same struggles she has. 

Thank you, Jeannie! 

*The purpose of this blog is not to discourage anyone from their decision to get breast implants, it is simply to educate, and shine a light on the serious potential side effects of this procedure.

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