Crystal Hefner had her breast implants removed following chronic illness

Crystal Hefner went public with an illness she has been battling but covering up for some time. She says her breast implants have been slowly attacking her immune system. A few years ago she started feeling fatigued and worn down. Believing it must be in her head, she didn’t seek any medical advice. As her symptoms became more pronounced, she eventually was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and an allergy to mold. When she shared this information publicly, many people commented that her symptoms actually sounded like Breast Implant Illness. Reading up on the subject, Crystal became convinced that it was, in fact, her implants that were poisoning her. As a result, she had them removed and says she has already started feeling better. You can read Crystal’s full Facebook post here.

Crystal Hefner had her breast implants removed after she realized they were causing her debilitating pain. The Playmate turned DJ shared her story via Facebook on Tuesday, July 19, revealing that her implants “slowly poisoned” her.

The model wrote in a lengthy Facebook post that a few years ago she began to notice mild symptoms that ranged from aches and fatigue, but she later developed “intolerance to foods and beverages, unexplained back pain, constant neck and shoulder pain, cognitive dysfunction (brain fog, memory loss), stunted hair growth, incapacitating fatigue, burning bladder pain, low immunity, recurring infections and problems with my thyroid and adrenals.”

“The fatigue was so severe that I could barely leave the house or drive.”

After she became allergic to almost every food, had “intolerable pain” and was diagnosed with Lyme disease, Crystal finally started to research her symptoms after she shared her symptoms and received comments about a condition commenters referred to as breast-implant illness.

“I found a Breast Implant Illness website and Facebook group with almost 3,000 members,” she recalled. “My symptoms matched theirs.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, “breast implants are not lifetime devices. The longer you have breast implants, the more likely it is that complications will occur and you will need to have them removed.”

After removing her implants, Crystal said some of her symptoms went away almost immediately.

“Instantly I noticed my neck and shoulder pain was gone and I could breathe much better,” she concluded. “I know I won’t feel 100 percent overnight. My implants took eight years to make me this sick, so I know it will take time to feel better. I also have other illnesses to address, but with the toxic bags removed, my immune system can focus on what it needs to.”

[From Us Magazine]

Kaiser covered Stephanie March’s horrendous implant story last month. There are plenty of medical warnings on record as to the dangers of implants but not much medical information on Breast Implant Illness specifically. CB pointed me to this article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, which claims that implants do not actually weaken the immune system. I found these two articles, written by people with medical degrees, who say that the studies conducted to determine that were with subjects who had only had implants for a short amount of time and that this disease manifests much later. Both claim that newer studies are beginning to show a connection between immunity deterioration and implants. However, these are opinions based on compiled material and not actual studies or tests. There are websites devoted to Breast Implant Illness, however, and recently a breast explantation movement has begun.

I am really glad Crystal is feeling better, her illness sounds horrible. I hope she is still treating her Lyme Disease, though. I appreciate that her symptoms were the same as all of the people who reached out to her but Lyme is a serious and debilitating disease so I hope she hasn’t thrown out one diagnosis in favor of another. With luck, this discussion on Breast Implant Illness will bring about some more studies.




Photo Credit: WENN Photos, Instagram and Facebook

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51 Responses to “Crystal Hefner had her breast implants removed following chronic illness”

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  1. Donna Martin says:

    How can anyone argue that foreign objects planted into your body couldn’t cause serious illnesses or side effects? Come on.

    • Betsy says:

      Because medical grade silicone has been used for eons and it’s pretty much non-reactive. I think that’s why the existence of this ailment is a mystery. Theoretically, it’s not supposed to break down, right?

      • Nameless says:

        Sounds more like an immune response to me. Does it need to break down to cause that?

      • Wren says:

        There’s much we still don’t understand about the body. To the best of our knowledge the implants shouldn’t break down or be reactive at all. But our knowledge is incomplete so saying it’s “impossible” smacks of hubris. We thought x-rays were perfectly safe once, and to the best of our knowledge they were. Then we learned more and saw how wrong we were.

      • byland says:

        My mom had two sets of silicone implants. The first were removed when one ruptured, then the second were removed a few years later. When the surgeon opened her up it was to find both implants had ruptured and one was covered in GANGRENE.

        That was almost thirty years (30!) ago. She still has little bits of silicone work their way through her skin with perfectly round little wounds left in their wake. One came through last week.

        It doesn’t break down, all right. It just wades through the body with nothing to keep it in check.

    • BTownGirl says:

      Then how come we never hear about these issues with knee/hip replacements? Bottom line is that the FDA looked at silicone implants for ten years and they have been back on the market for another ten years. No study has ever found an actual link between them and autoimmune illnesses. I feel very sorry for people who do something aesthetic and come to believe that it’s making them ill, really and truly, but….science.

      • Courtney says:

        Science is never settled.

        It took roughly 20 years from the time we first realized x-rays of pregnant women’s abdomens might not be so safe until the time it was actually totally banned (from roughly the 1950’s until the 1970’s).

      • BTownGirl says:

        I can see your point for sure, but with the level of technology we have now, it’s unlikely that anyone is being sickened by something that could be pretty easily traced through the bloodstream and tissues. The issue in the past came from gel implants that didn’t use cohesive silicone, which meant when the implant ruptured, the gel didn’t stay in the capsule that the body naturally forms around the implant, as it does with modern implants. Even then, no one could find any concrete evidence that it led to illness. In any event, anyone who is concerned/thinking of having the procedure should work with a surgeon who they trust and who takes the time to give a thorough explanation of the FDA’s findings.

      • Jwoolman says:

        People have way too much trust in clinical studies, which are always very limited for many reasons. I have worked with huge piles of clinical trial materials for decades as a translator and am not so impressed (I have a Ph.D. in a joint chemistry and physics program and have done published research myself.) If you look at the Merck Manual in different decades, you will see that complete reversals in medical practice are routine. The thinking on such issues is constantly changing because we really don’t know much. The human body is very complex while clinical studies are necessarily not.

        The studies are needed for marketing approval primarily, as an attempt to test safety and to a lesser degree efficacy. The safety issue is paramount, efficacy is often harder to conclusively prove especially since in my opinion as a physical scientist medical statistics are misused and their conclusions fly in the face of common sense many times. But typical studies are way too short to pick up long-term problems, hence the need for long-term data collecting on adverse events to try to pick up patterns. The USA is far behind Europe in reporting such events in many cases.

        If you remove a foreign object and are relieved of symptoms, that’s a pretty good indication that in your particular body, they were a problem. That’s real science, too. If she has an autoimmune disease for other reasons, it is especially not far-fetched to think that her body may react differently to implants than you might if you’re healthy. But every person is different regardless if they have a diagnosed disease or not.

      • BTownGirl says:

        Love having a scientist’s perspective (seriously, yay!)! Full disclosure, my boyfriend is a plastic surgeon, and so I come at it from the perspective that he and his fellow doctors read these studies and feel comfortable putting them in patients and I also have him come home upset when he sees patients who are distressed after people tell them that the implants are dangerous/make judgments about their intelligence based on the decision to get said implants. On the foreign body issue – heck, my body once rejected a belly button ring (the early 2000s…I tell you), but a lot of the symptoms people are describing don’t show up on any tests. I have heard doctors say that they think it’s quite possible that, in some cases, these complaints are actually psychosomatic (i.e. headaches, nausea, anxiety etc.) and then, of course, when the implants come out there go the symptoms. Which still has therapeutic value, in my humble opinion.

        My real concern is some of the doctors claiming to “cure” these symptoms. If you look at the logo on Crystal’s robe (helpfully clearly visible *cough cough*) …well, look it up. I won’t namecheck this doctor myself, because apparently the office threatened to sue an unhappy patient. so I’m not goin’ there. However, I question any doctor who tells their patients they need vitamins/food with the doctor’s logo on it to fully recover. Seriously, no one needs a plastic-surgeon-branded salad to recover from surgery. Everyone should be presenting a balanced view, is what I’m saying.

      • ladysussex says:

        “Science” changes through the years. Remember when doctors told us to eat margarine (poison!) instead of butter? Remember when Pluto was a planet and peptic ulcers were caused by stress rather than H. pylori? “Science” is also very political, and changes according to who is paying for the testing, or which lobbies are “donating” money to particular universities who do the studies.

      • BTownGirl says:

        I’m not saying that science is completely infallible by any stretch, I’m just saying that it’s probably not a great idea to panic/make decisions based on what a Facebook group says. If someone is concerned, they should get all the (qualified, professional) opinions they need to feel comfortable and make the best choice they can. I think this is also a bit different, because I don’t think the FDA takes donations?

      • Mae says:

        @BTownGirl: headaches, nausea, anxiety are also symptoms that can be caused by physiological processes. They are very nonspecific, so having them go away doesn’t indicate the cause was psychosomatic. New tests are also being developed all the time, so just because there isn’t a biochemical test for something right now doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future. It’s like when depression was ‘just in your head’. Except now we have all these tests showing immune dysregulation, microbiome changes, low mineral/vitamin status, etc. People can also develop sensitivities to things over time, maybe that’s what is happening here? There seems to be a pattern, which should be investigated. It seems there aren’t enough studies at this point to make a professional’s opinion all that useful, since their opinion would probably be ‘needs more long-term research’. There is a saying in research: ‘absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’. I don’t feel confident categorizing people’s experiences as psychosomatic at this point.

    • Ange says:

      I mean, my IUD is fine.

      • Truthie says:

        Careful. I had an IUD for quite some time and then flunked every pap test they could give me.

  2. Alix says:

    Wouldn’t she have to have smaller implants put in anyway, and wouldn’t they continue causing her troubles, or was it something specific about the first set of implants?

    • Lindsay says:

      She probably had the excess skin removed with her implants since its been stretched over the implants for so long. It looks like she completely removed them though.

    • Hadleyb says:

      No. I had mine removed and had lift. I still have a lot of breast tissue though and am not nor was I ever completely flat.

  3. NotYourMama says:

    Yolanda Foster immediately comes to mind.

  4. Izzy says:

    The fact that her back and shoulders felt better and her breathing was better indicates that the implants were far too large – which one can also confirm by looking at photos, but the alleviated symptoms would seem to confirm that. All the other symptoms may also be related to them, or could be from something else entirely like Lyme disease.

  5. kacy says:

    Hmm, just like Yolanda Hadid?????

  6. jlee says:

    So many mothers I know view implants as a gift you give yourself after nursing a few babies or as a gesture that says “I’m finally doing something for myself.” Having elective surgery and putting a foreign object in your body is a weird way to reclaim your femininity. Little,big,flat,triangle,hi,low…..they are fine as is. I wish people would leave themselves be.

    • Bettyrose says:

      We talk a lot on this site about agency and women having the right to do what they want with their bodies. The problem is that surgery is painful, and the physical trauma of being sliced open can have an emotional impact too. Do we really have agency when we’re hurting our bodies to achieve an arbitrary ideal?

      • JenniferJustice says:

        Yes to everything you both said. Sure, we have a right to whatever we want to our bodies, but is it healthy physically, emotionally? No!!!!

        Also, insecurities are rarely solved with physical surgery. That’s addressing a symptom rather than the root of the problem. That’s why some people get addicted to surgery and have body dysmorphia. They think this next surgery will fix how they feel, but it ends up being a vicious cycle. They’re never satisfied because the problem isn’t really their body. It’s their frame of mind.

      • thaliasghost says:

        The question is also what exactly it has to do with agency to literally cut your body open and have an object implemented in an invasive completely unnecessary procedure, when it is all based on the male gaze in a male dominated world.

        Women’s bodies have been mutilated for men’s pleasure forever. Whether it was feet binding in China or female genital mutilation in Africa – just because it is expensive and performed by a surgeon doesn’t mean at the core it isn’t the same thing.

        Unless men start having invasive unnecessary operations by the millions to be attractive for women there is a clear power imbalance involved.

      • BTownGirl says:

        Honest question: do you still feel the same when it comes to reconstructive surgeries? My personal view is that everyone is different, having surgery isn’t necessarily indicative of insecurity/emotional problems and no one from the outside knows what’s going on in anyone else’s mind to say they didn’t really do it for themselves.

      • bettyrose says:

        BTownGirl – That’s a great question with no easy answer. No, I do not feel the same way about reconstructive surgery. But it’s hard to give a perfect rationale for why that is.

        In brief, I guess it’s because reclaiming one’s body after a traumatic event is different than subjecting a healthy body to medically unnecessary – and potentially harmful – procedures.

        I’m also increasingly bothered by how commonplace cosmetic procedures are becoming. In the 90s, boob jobs were growing in popularity, but now women barely out of adolescence are getting whole new faces?

      • BTownGirl says:

        I couldn’t agree more about the vast numbers of teenagers getting plastic surgery. It just makes me so sad. There may be some kids (because they are just that, kids) mature enough to make these decisions, but I have a feeling they’re the outliers. Correcting actual problems, sure, but Kylie Jenner situations? Terrible, just terrible.

      • MarcelMarcel says:

        @BTownGirl reconstructive surgery is medically necessary or at least it was with my f burn. I had two surgeries in twenty four hours- the first was to relieve the fluid pressure so my left arm didn’t have to be amputated. The second was to graft skin so I had the ability to move my arm. My head surgeon had a private practice where he did cosmetic surgery and he spends every Friday at the burns unit. While these two fields of surgery use the same techniques they are different because they are done for entirely different reasons and thus have different outcomes. My left arm will never be aesthetically pleasing by mainstream standards. However because of well performed surgery and good quality skincare my arm now moves well and is soft to the touch.

        If people are willing to accept the inherent risks of a surgery to achieve an aesthetic outcome I think they should have access to cosmetic surgery. However aside from similar surgical techniques being used in same cases I don’t think cosmetic and reconstructive surgery are comparable at all.

  7. Joy says:

    I know a girl with this exact story. She had HUGE implants. Mystery illness, told it was Lyme disease, whole thing. Had them removed with almost immediate relief.

    • BTownGirl says:

      Large implants can cause issues like tissue stretch, back/shoulder pain (just like natural breasts), etc., but implants of all sizes are filled with either saline or silicone, so it’s kind of ludicrous to suggest that someone’s immune system had a meltdown because they went 100cc’s bigger, or whatever this is supposed to suggest.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I’d never noticed how much her nose looks like Hugh’s.

  9. Pandy says:

    I thought she was Brandi Glanville.

  10. thaliasghost says:

    I just had a look at her instagram and oh my – this human beings entire identity were her breast implants. That is all every single picture of hers was about. What is she going to do now? This just makes me so sad, especially all the people she influenced with these pictures. All the young girls who thought they needed breast implants and weren’t enough the way they are because of them, all the men who thought this is what women are about. And all the while posting the pictures she was in ill health, suffering and hurting.

    We need to change all of this or we are doomed. It’s time to use social media for something positive. At least she has shared her story. Maybe some of her followers will spend a minute or two reflecting on her story.

    • BTownGirl says:

      Here’s the issue with something like this (and please understand that I feel terrible for her or any other woman who believes an elective surgery is causing health issues) – there is no medical research to back it up and stating it as a fact has consequences. There actually are doctors out there who claim to “cure” this and turn what should be very simple implant removals into very costly, complicated surgeries with sometimes terrible aesthetic outcomes that were avoidable. I couldn’t agree more that no one should be undergoing plastic surgery thinking that they’re not “enough” as they are and no surgeon should be operating on anyone who doesn’t have a stable self-image. My issue is telling other women something they have done is dangerous when the proof just isn’t there. I don’t doubt that she and the other women in this Facebook group absolutely believe what they are saying (and again, it pretty much breaks my heart), but someone in the public eye needs to provide a balanced view.

      • Jwoolman says:

        The “proof” isn’t “there” in so many things – there are severe limits to what gets studied and how and such studies are always seriously flawed. She already was getting excellent medical care to the current standards and did not experience relief. To not investigate other possible reasons for her illness would have been stupid.

        She did the right thing – she looked at anecdotal evidence from other women and saw a match between her own medical history and current symptoms and their reports. Clinical studies are just organized sets of anecdotes, too, and the reports she saw actually represented a larger number of subjects than many clinical trials and also were more representative of her individual situation. Removing the implants was a good thing to try and it seems to have at least partially helped. She will have to see what happens for the rest. She has been sick for a long time and there may be many factors involved.

        By the way, diagnosis of something like Lyme disease is a good example of the difficulties in medical treatment. It’s not a no-brainer and often people are left undiagnosed with that and similar diseases for years. Misdiagnosis is also quite possible in general in chronic illnesses. Many times the best thing to do is to try a treatment and see if it helps. A friend was finally diagnosed with Lyme only after her husband pushed her doctor for the testing. The doctor didn’t see it, but the test resulted in successful treatment after months of unsuccessful treatment. She would still be very sick if not for her husband’s persistence. Testing for many things is incomplete and prone to error. Even apparently simple things like UTI’s can be misdiagnosed, and there is good reason to believe that subclinical infections can cause chronic problems (meaning infections below the threshold of current testing, especially since actual culturing is rare today and they rely on very indirect indications of infection from simple automatic testing in the doctor’s office).

        Tracing what happens in the body is simply not the easy task that some people here think it is. We have multiple theories with no definitive answers much of the time and often no real theories at all. It is not uncommon for multiple doctors to not be able to provide relief for chronic problems. Please be your own detective and be experimental, doctors are only consultants and their knowledge is limited. They know how to deal with some things but many other conditions baffle them for good reason. That’s why so many fall back on the old “it’s all in your head” nonsense especially for female patients. They can’t help us so we must be imagining it. I’ve taught pre-meds, and most of them were the most narrow-minded, blinders-on group of young people I ever encountered, mirroring my experiences with full-fledged doctors. If you have a doctor not afraid to say “I don’t know” and willing to listen and experiment and read the literature trying to find new ideas — latch on to him or her for dear life…

      • BTownGirl says:

        So, you don’t like most doctors and you’re entitled to your opinion. I don’t believe that a large percentage of people who sacrifice so much to help others are offering things that have a good chance of causing illness and are so set on being “right” that they discount their patients experiences/miss opportunities to alleviate their suffering. I also have to strongly disagree that male doctors treat their female patients poorly. I’m sure there are SOME who might (and some who treat all their patients dismissively, regardless of gender), but it’s really kind of unfair to paint everyone with the same brush. Can they be wrong or miss things? Sure, of course! Personally, I just suggest people form their opinions based on information from people who have been to medical school, are familiar with their personal medical history and are invested in their health, rather than Facebook groups. No disrespect to these women intended at all and if they feel better after removing implants, I’m thrilled for them.

      • Dina says:

        BTownGirl, i feel that your comments are somewhat aggressive, and your defense of doctors knowledge (just coz your boyfriend is plastic surgeon) is emotional rather than factual. Jwoolman, on the other hand sounds like a person who bases his/her knowledge on facts, rather than what my boyfriend/girlfriend said.

        And yes implanting foreign objects in your body must carry some impacts…and if we don’t know yet which they are, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

      • Mae says:

        Super agree @Jwoolman.

        I don’t know if that’s what’s happening here, but there is a long history of diseases that appear more frequently in women being dismissed as psychosomatic or misdiagnosed as a ‘stress’ disorder. Yes, really. Doctors are not infallible, and biomedical science is an ongoing endeavor. I value the opinions of (biomed) PhDs as much as MDs when it comes to medicine, personally. It’s a good idea to educate yourself (using pubmed) on the latest findings, new more sensitive tests, and any controversies when faced with a tricky chronic illness. And being more educated will help you find a better doctor, since you can check if they are keeping up with their field. This approach has worked for myself and my friends, and I can’t really see that there is any more sensible way to do things. That being said, I dealt with a lot of biomed research as part of my undergrad, so I’m not sure how someone with zero knowledge of the field navigates things. Bit of a learning curve, so tread carefully.

      • Boo says:

        I haven’t been here in a while because of how the last time went.

        First, full appreciation to you JWoolman. I know you’re right.

        Anyway, i’m over half a century old with a rare disorder scientifically proven. I suffered all through childhood with a lot of pain and medicine kept telling my parents it was stress from them or in my head. Finally my body created visible signs, 2 biopsies were done, and I have 2 diagnosed rare disorders based on a dominant major immune system cell everyone has everywhere in their body. This didn’t happen though until my 30s.

        The “science” proof on this and how to test it is still not 100% (ie. they haven’t figured it out for everyone) but essentially, they just got it refined enough in 2004. Since then, research has exploded because this cell causing my illness is classified in same family as cancer, is a stem cell disorder, and it hits everyone and everything nearly.

        Science says “what flips the switch to activate an illness or disease?” That’s what they need to know and they admit that. So for those saying “well I have this and no problems” doesn’t invalidate those who did have an illness or disease triggered to life by something.

        And a foreign body or foreign matter in the human body is always going to stimulate immune response because the immune system is for that exactly – to attack foreign bodies it thinks are a threat. So what i’m wondering is what is the casing around the silicone because that’s the thing that’s rupturing and breaking down. So what is the case containing the silicone made of and what studies have been done on that? Which takes us right back to JWoolman who is completely correct about research, papers, funding, science, marketing, all of it.

        You don’t realize how much medicine doesn’t know until you get something rare. Trust me. This stuff is not fun and there’s nothing they can do for it because so far, they don’t know how to effectively treat it for everyone.

  11. magnolia says:

    Hmmm, without the implants, how long til Hugh dumps her? 😉

    • ladysussex says:

      My thoughts exactly. I wonder how long he will wait until he files for divorce. He’ll probably wait a little while to give him plausible deniability that it’s not about her breasts.

  12. Lbliss says:

    I’m glad she is feeling better. What an ordeal to have such horrible medical issues with no real diagnosis without any type of relief for so long.

  13. Miss M says:

    What a scary situation. I am glad she feels better.

  14. my3cents says:

    Sometimes I Imagine what an anthropologist from another time and place would think of our culture thousands of years from now- finding human skeletons with two gel like bags placed on their chests-hmmm must be some sort of religious ritual.

  15. jferber says:

    Magnolia, exactly what I was thinking. Hugh Hefner’s world view and career are based on breast implants. He won’t care that Crystal is healthy. All he’ll care about is that Crystal is flat-chested. How can he remain married to her now that she’s not big-breasted? He can’t. It will be a race with the clock to get a new wife now and to make it look like it’s not because of her breasts. Because with Hefner, everything is because of breasts.

  16. Dina says:

    BTownGirl, i feel that your comments are somewhat aggressive, and your defense of doctors knowledge (just coz your boyfriend is plastic surgeon) is emotional rather than factual. Jwoolman, on the other hand sounds like a person who bases his/her knowledge on facts, rather than what my boyfriend/girlfriend said.

    And yes implanting foreign objects in your body must carry some impacts…and if we don’t know yet which they are, doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    • BTownGirl says:

      No, I don’t base my opinions solely on what my boyfriend tells me and, frankly, the implication is rude. I do get my facts from him (someone who has spent 20+ years in practice and certainly knows a lot about breast implants) and from friends who are doctors and nurses. I have tremendous respect for people who make it through medical and nursing school. so yes i find someone saying that doctors are narrow-minded and don’t listen to their patients unfair. It’s a tough life and medical professionals give everything they have to their patients. If you honestly believe that someone who has devoted years if their lives to medicine isn’t necessarily the best person to get advice from, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. If my saying “slow down, don’t panic, and find a doctor you trust who gives you all the information to make an informed decision” makes me “aggressive”, so be it.

      • Boo says:

        BTownGirl, you sound like a doctor with 20 years of practice based solely on textbooks and not listening to their patients. I’m sorry but you do. And i’m even more sorry to have to tell you that this approach and attitude is outdated and now considered cruel and disrespectful to patient and the patient-doctor relationship. I mean no harm here but you are aggressive on this and you are not even a physician yourself. Neither, apparently, are you a patient. So as a patient, and with JWoolman having expertise right in line with this far ranging issues, you are the one who is being rude. I’m very sorry but that’s the truth.

        There are international conferences happening worldwide for and by physicians and nurses and entire hospitals about respecting patient voice and their experience in addition to the science. The practice of medicine has completely changed because of the damage caused to people like me and the woman in this article over many many years in history. You, i’m very sorry to say, are disrespectful in your approach and tone to this. I’m really tired of this.

        And for the record, I agree about facebook. I’m not on there. I too work with and speak with doctors and nurses all the time. They’re from all over the world. The leaders on immune system research actually are in Europe, my personal opinion only. France, Germany and Sweden are my favs.

  17. Sara says:

    I’m not a doctor but thyroid dysfunction can cause a lot of those symptoms as well. Hope she got that checked out also. Hope she feels better and this fixes her health problems.