As I blinked my eyes open, I felt overwhelmed by the bright lights and beeping sounds.
I remembered I was in hospital.
"Is it done?" I slurred groggily to a nurse checking my vitals.
"You're all good, love," she replied. "It all went well."
The size of my tiny A-cup breasts had always made me feel self-conscious, so I'd decided to get implants to increase them to a DD.
Excited, I looked down at my bandaged chest to see my brand-new bulging bosom.
"They're amazing," I marvelled, impressed by the new mounds on my chest.
Once I was allowed home later that day, I headed straight to the full-length mirror in my bedroom so that I could inspect myself properly.
"I love them," I said aloud, peeling back the bandages.
Even though I was still swollen and sore, I already felt like a million bucks, light years away from the insecure girl I used to be.
Before the surgery, I'd shy away from low-cut tops or revealing clothing.
Looking at myself in the mirror had always made me cringe; I didn't feel feminine compared to my fuller-chested friends.
Around men, I was constantly self-conscious and usually tried to turn off the lights in bed.
But now, I finally felt sexy and womanly, on the inside and out.
When I went out with my friends after the op, I donned a tight, low-cut dress to show off 'the girls'.
"You look bloody ripper!" one cheered when she saw me.
"Best decision I ever made," I winked gleefully.
Men kept doing double-takes as I walked by them, and I relished the attention.
But three years after my surgery, strange things started happening.
One day at work in my job as a child carer, I was holding a toddler when I felt the whole left side of my body turn numb.
Panicked and confused, I nearly dropped the poor kid!
"I dunno what's going on," I screamed to my workmate, quickly setting the boy on the ground.
Frustrated, I went to hospital and had a series of tests, even seeing a neurologist.
But no-one could say what was wrong, and after a few days, I discharged myself since the numbness had gone away.
Maybe it's just a one-off, I convinced myself.
In the following weeks, I woke up every morning feeling like I had a massive hangover, even though I hadn't drunk.
I was constantly tired, my throat was sore, and I couldn't concentrate on a thing.
I'm just run-down, I figured.
If it was something more serious, the docs would have surely found it.
But some days, I had heart palpitations, extreme anxiety, and when I combed my hair, huge clumps would come out.
"Don't worry, pet, we'll figure out what's wrong," my partner, Wayde, soothed when I cried to him. "I'm sure it's all connected."
One day, nearly three years later, just as I was giving up hope in finding answers, I read a Facebook post.
An old colleague of mine was talking about having her breast implants removed due to a condition she called 'breast implant illness'.
She described it as a series of autoimmune issues that affect women with implants.
Brain fog, insomnia, poor memory, I nodded, reading through the symptoms.
Surely this isn't real? Doctors had assured me my implants were safe.
But as I did my own research, I stumbled across a Facebook group with more than 70,000 women going through the exact same thing.
I became convinced this was happening to me, too.
Armed with dozens of testimonials, I went to my GP.
"All these women have breast implant illness, and I think I do, too," I urged.
The doc chuckled. "That's not a medically recognised condition," he grinned.
"I know you're worried, but I wouldn't trust what some women on Facebook say."
I left feeling disappointed – I wasn't bloody making it up!
But the more I read, the more I was convinced it was what I had.
"I'm gonna have the implants taken out," I told Wayde, fed up with feeling so crook for the sake of a curvier figure. It just wasn't worth it.
"I'll support you no matter what," he encouraged.
I was sceptical that the surgery would cure me of all my symptoms, but I was willing to give anything a try.
After three years suffering debilitating symptoms, I'd finally saved the $6000 fee for the explant surgery.
Being rolled into the operating theatre again felt like deja vu.
But as soon as I woke from the operation, I felt like I could breathe properly for the first time in six years. My brain had clarity and my chest pains were gone. I was finally free!
Leaving the hospital, I felt like a new woman.
It took all those years of pain and anguish to love my body for what it is. It didn't bother me that my boobs were small.
I finally felt healthy again and that's all that mattered.
"Believe me now?" I asked my surgeon during a follow-up appointment.
He paused. "If you'd asked me two years ago, I'd have said it was rubbish, but from the results I've seen, I can't deny it," he nodded.
Now, it's my mission to make women aware of the risks of implant surgery.
Bigger breasts aren't necessarily best.