We are raising money for Bella Marianne to try to recover her life after extreme physical violence and unfortunate consequences took it away.
Please read the description of her experience in her own words. Thank you for your attention to this cause.
“At the age of twelve I was violently assaulted which resulted in a severe trauma to my facial structure and several crushed bones. Unfortunately, it impaired further development of my face and a few years later I was diagnosed with a badly underdeveloped lower jaw bone. I needed a serious maxillofacial surgery. As scary as it was I went along with the recommendation and started orthodontic treatment. After almost two years of wearing braces my surgery was scheduled. Unfortunately, I didn’t have medical insurance that would cover the cost of the surgery, so following advice of a well-meaning person I went abroad to be able to pay for it out of pocket. At the time it appeared to be the only choice I had. I wasn’t blessed with having the protection of a loving family and I was completely alone in making the decision. I was just a naive, lonely girl and I made a mistake.
"The country where my surgery was to be performed is famous for affordable medical procedures. There are special services catering to almost every need that might arise for an arriving patient. I would be greeted at the airport by a driver and specially arranged vehicle to transport me to a special recovery hotel. When I was exploring this venture their website promised all the necessary adjustments for somebody with a special diet. It was an important factor for me since I do have a number of food allergies. I discussed this with the manager and was assured that they took note of it and I had nothing to worry about in that respect.
“Thankful and full of hope I boarded the plane and embarked on my health mission. Everything was perfect, just as I hoped. I was brought to a beautiful hotel and the next day I had an appointment with my surgeon. We discussed all the details. He showed me what he was going to do and assured me that I was safe in his hands and everything would be great and I had no reasons for any concerns. My surgery was scheduled for 11:00pm a couple of days later.
“I arrived at the hospital, put on special garments which were given to me by the nurse, entered a very cold surgical room and lay down. The anesthesiologist put a needle into my veins and informed me that she was going to drip some medication in order to help me relax. I had zero experience with intoxicating substances, no drugs, no alcohol or cigarettes, so it hit me immediately. My fear suddenly went away and I felt totally in peace. Some moments later my consciousness was turned off.
“I woke up into a nightmare. The surgery was over and there was a male nurse bustling around the bed. My memory from that night is vague but I distinctly remember asking him to give me a mirror. Surprisingly, he brought me one. When I saw my reflection I felt an immediate shock, as my lower jaw was hanging about half an inch to the left and I could not close my mouth. The surgeon came in, looked at me, nodded and SMILED as if he was happy with the results. I remember a feeling of utter disbelief... did he not see what I just saw in the mirror? Was I still asleep? My mind couldn’t bear this torment and I fell asleep desperately hoping that I when woke up in the morning everything would be all right.
“It wasn’t. When I woke up it was crystal clear that the surgery was badly botched and when the surgeon arrived to check on me he said that he was tired when he performed it and we would have to redo it again in a week. It’s life and such things happen. I accepted it, I had no choice. In the meantime, I couldn’t understand why I had a constant strange throbbing in my chin and lip. I couldn’t feel anything in my left side but I read that a temporary loss of sensation is normal and feeling would return in a few weeks. It turned out later that the surgeon actually did damage my major facial nerve and while some feeling did come back, I have permanent numbness in my chin and lower lip.
“Those days after the surgery are something I would never wish on my worst enemy if I had one. Apparently, during the surgery some major vein was cut and I lost copious amounts of blood. My whole neck and upper chest were swollen and purple. It took two months for the bruising to dissolve. My eyes were so swollen that I could barely open them enough to see. I couldn’t eat and the only nutrition I could receive was supposed to come though a thick straw. The recovery center was supposed to take care of that as it was all discussed in detail and I was 100% assured that all the necessary adjustments would be arranged. It wouldn't be difficult really. All they had to do was to blend my soups and make smoothies instead of salads. However, for whatever reason, they found it too difficult or too much of a hassle. All they could come up with was diluted fruit smoothies. I especially remember a watermelon smoothie which had a distinctly funky sour taste of a stale watermelon. On the fourth day a nurse came to examine me and immediately called the kitchen asking them to prepare and bring me some lentil soup. I remember her saying, “You need iron, and there is iron in lentils”. Honestly, I was not in the condition to think too much about micro-elements, I just wanted that soup because I was terribly hungry. I was so absolutely and endlessly grateful to her when that bowl of soup was brought into my room and I poured the first spoon into my mouth… I also craved fresh onion and tomatoes. But the kitchen staff didn’t find it necessary to prepare special veggie smoothies for a single patient. I was recovering on lentil soup and fruit smoothies. I had enough to stave off complete starvation but in three weeks of recovering on that diet I did lose twenty five pounds off of my already skinny body. At 5’5” I weighed only 76 pounds and when I finally got back home and looked at myself in the mirror I was frankly startled by the ghastly reflection looking back at me.
“I will never forget that nurse. It is possible that she saved my life back then. Apparently, as a professional medical worker, she saw what I didn’t realize yet. My loss of blood during the surgery was much more serious than I thought. It was later mentioned to me even by the surgeon himself that there was an emergency situation because they couldn’t stop the blood from gushing. I don’t have any problem with clotting and I am not hemophiliac, but something went wrong. My angel nurse also wrote a list a medications and sent an assistant to a pharmacy to fetch them. Among other things I was to take some strong medications for anemia. I never had anemia in my life and didn’t know why I needed those pills. But a few days after the surgery, when I was able to venture from the second floor where my room was located to the first and then back up, I understood the necessity. After only a few steps I was out of breath and gasping for air.
“A week passed and I arrived at the hospital for my second surgery. Somehow the operating room felt even colder than than the first time. I lay down on the bed waiting for the anesthesiologist, shivering so hard that the bed was actually rattling. The nurse arrived, put the needle into my vein and I passed out. I woke up feeling strange. There was the surgeon and a nurse over my face telling me that the surgery had to be postponed because I was in a precarious state and it was dangerous to operate. Two more weeks of waiting, unable to properly eat, talk, full of uncertainty, pain and perplexed disbelief in what was happening.
“I wasn’t lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and loving family members. I was completely alone. I should have known better but then I was assured that everything would be absolutely fine and I was in good hands. Just a naive, optimistic and utterly inexperienced girl in the big world full of surprises and failed hopes…
“Two weeks later… 4:00am. I was put under for the third time and the corrective surgery was finally performed. The end of the nightmare? Oh, HOW I wished! But no. It was still the beginning. I woke up with excruciating pain in my TMJ. I later found out that the joint was not only dislocated but actually destroyed. During the surgery my lower jaw had been cut and broken twice and the surgeon attached it in such a way that I cannot properly chew my food or even keep it properly closed. My face is disfigured and I can’t help feeling hopeless and wondering what is the point of going on at all. I abandoned school and have been in the survival mode for the past two years, but I did manage to pull myself together and meet one of the most reputable maxillofacial surgeons in the US. He said my case was complicated due to the damaged nerve, multiple bone grafts, and shattered TMJ among other issues, but yes, he WOULD be able to revise it successfully.”
The photo you see was taken a few months before the first surgery.
All together, the cost of the surgeon’s and the hospital’s fees, the new orthodontics, and after care would amount to $140,000. Without your help Bella Marianne will not be able to have this surgery. And it means her life. We don’t know if you can help, but if you do, you would truly and forever be an Angel for Bella Marianne, saving her life by restoring her ability to function and enjoy living. Thank you for taking the time to read her story.