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My name is Nikolett Balla, and I am in need of your help. So far I’ve been able to fund my own rehabilitation, however with the current climate I am unable to do so for much longer.
I would like to live a normal life again. One where I can walk, run, climb or ride without pain. Please take a moment (or two) to read my story. It is one of misunderstanding, misinformation and dishonesty amongst doctors.
If you are able to donate, even a few euros, I would greatly appreciate it. If you are able to share my story across some form of social media platform, that I would also be grateful for. A little goes a long way, and I am appreciative of any form of exposure this story -my story- may have.
It starts in August 2018, when I was running in the beautiful Transylvanian mountains. One miss-step in the middle of my race, and I tore my knee ligament. It took 9 months and the differing diagnoses of four doctors to finally reach the conclusion that my knee ligaments had indeed teared. By this time, my ligaments had ruptured and I desperately needed surgery.
19 years ago I had a successful knee surgery, and so, due to the successful result, I wanted to see the same doctor for the current knee issue. Unfortunately, I was unable. Despite this, I desperately needed someone to look at - and verify - my suspicions of my damaged knee.
I went into ER, where I was referred to an MRI. The results showed significant instability in my knee joints, and Doctor #1 recommended immediate surgery.
A month or so passed, and I finally met Doctor #2 (the one who operated on me 19 years ago). He claimed that there was nothing wrong with my knee, rather that there was some worn cartilage from my years of playing sports, and instead of prescribing or providing an official opinion, he recommended -no joke- that I should just ‘get married’ and ‘settle down’, that way I 'wouldn’t have any further musculoskeletal complaints’ in future.
Frustrated, angry, and at this point, desperate, I consulted Doctor #3. Doctor #3 was resentful that I had previously seen Doctor #2 (who was above him in the ‘medical hierarchy’). Doctor #3 agreed with Doctor #2, stating that he couldn’t possibly diagnose me any differently, even if he wanted to, as that would cause issues in his workplace which he wasn’t willing to subject himself to.
Clearly I chose the wrong doctors to consult. I returned to Doctor #1, who performed the initial MRI scan. I explained what happened with Doctors #2 and #3. He also refused to perform the surgery, claiming that he didn’t want to go into a lawsuit ‘based on opposing expertise’.
As no doctors wanted to help me, I sought out other methods. I consistently attended physiotherapy sessions, massage treatments and targeted-training to help me cope with my knees. After several weeks of this, I saw Doctor #4. He believed that my knee ligaments were torn, an ACL tear or sorts, and recommended to a reputable knee surgeon.
I was sent to a sports hospital, where I met with Doctor #5. He stated that my knee was destroyed, and was terribly unstable. He was extremely concerned that I had been miss-diagnosed by 2 reputable doctors (Doctor #2 and #3), and was disgusted that I had been messed around by workplace politics amongst specialists for so long. Doctor #5 said that the amount of time wasted between all these doctors, had more than likely caused irreversible damage.
Things escalated quickly with the aid of Doctor #5. After 9 months of excruciating agony, I was able to have my knee operated on in April of 2019.
Rehabilitation wasn’t easy. It took a good year to learn to walk again. I hoped I would never have to endure that form of torture again. I hoped too soon…
A year passed, and I was honestly doing quite well … except for a certain pinching pain in my knees that just wouldn’t go away.
I had a kids birthday party in the summer of 2020 where I attempted to lift up a 6 year old for a cuddle. I could barely stand the next day.
So I returned to Doctor #5. He performed another MRI, from which he concluded that I had a lateral meniscus rapture (cartilage ring rapture). He explained that the pain was caused by the wear and tear of my knee in two seperate places. Doctor #5 continued to tell me that this was good news, considering that my knee wasn’t worn out during rehabilitation. Doctor #5 could see I was anxious, and reassured me that I wouldn’t need surgery, and that a ‘cartilage booster shot’ would be all I needed.
I wondered what the point of my surgery was, if my knee was supposedly meant to ‘wear out’ during rehabilitation. Scared and traumatised from my rehabilitation process, I succumbed to the simplicity of the shot.
In March, the world was ravaged by the novel coronavirus. In July of 2020, the ganglion on my left foot was surgically removed. This is an important side-note, as I re-consulted Doctor #5, to whom I mentioned that I was concerned what this surgery may mean for my right knee. You see, if I were to have this surgery on my left foot, I wouldn’t be able to stand for weeks. And I would have to rehabilitate my left foot by putting all my body weight onto my right knee - the one that hurt oh so much. Doctor #5 dismissed my concerns and reassured me that I could have the surgery on my ganglion worry-free.
I returned to Doctor #5 in September, as my knee had popped out several times due to the meniscus rupture on my knee. Doctor #5 dismissed my concerns again, and offered a ‘miracle elixir’ (an injection of hyalorinic acid for cartilage wear) which was ‘on sale’ for about €125. It was about as effective as a ..?
2021 started with a histology. This, like the biopsy, came back with a negative result. I also had the COVID vaccine in March, which really knocked me about for three and a half months, because as it turned out, I could have been asymptomatic, and then have been vaccinated for it (bear in mind that in early March, it still wasn’t a ‘thing’ to get tested before getting the jab). This resulted in a variety of private consultations with cardiologists, scenographers and the like. By June I was mostly healed from the onslaught of the vaccine, and I could move on.
Or so I thought… Due to the surgery on my toe, I completed my rehab putting most of my body weight onto my right side. As a direct result of this, my spine began to hurt.
I was constantly in and out of physiotherapy, remedial massage, and body sculpting sessions. I ended up visiting Doctor #6, a spine specialist. He suspected my pain was a direct result of me putting all my body weight onto one leg to take pressure off my recovering left foot. A quick MRI later, and Doctor #6 informed me that the situation was quite terrible: there was a screw in the wrong place. This meant that, with every step, I was simply drilling through my kneecap.
Doctor #6 recommended me to another knee surgeon, Doctor #7.
Doctor #7 believed that the ‘misplaced screw’ was disassembling my kneecap and that removing it would be the first thing to do. As if this wasn’t enough, in disbelief he pointed to a section of my knee, explaining that it was a meniscus rupture which should have been operated on long ago. In addition, another knee ligament replacement became necessary (from an external donor)...
I thought I was about to burst. All along, I knew that something wasn’t quite right, but doctor after doctor after specialist after doctor refused to hear my concerns, and brushed me aside. This was the same concern that I brought forth to Doctor #5, who dismissed my concerns and said that operating wouldn’t be necessary. Because of this doctor’s decision, my knee literally popped out several times and caused me unimaginable pain.
I have successfully booked my surgery for Septembre. So far, I’ve been able to cover the costs of my injury and previous surgery, however my second round and course of rehabilitation will cost about the same, if not more.
Below you will see some pictures of my past few years. Despite the reality-tv, almost soap-opera tale of my knee, I had some of the best moments of my life.
I saw the world, I went on trips, took photos, trained, read, attended lectures, learned new things … it was such a beautiful period of my life, that just so happened to be shrouded in pain. I won’t even go into the domino-effect these miss-diagnosis had on my mental and physical health, the missed opportunities, and financial difficulties … the millions of conflicting feelings that have appeared, disappeared and re-appeared over the years. All I will say is that I am looking forward to finally putting an end to this saga, to this chapter of my life. I am looking forward to living without pain, and be able to walk, run, and jump without pain.
Thank you for your time. If you are at all moved by my story and wish to assist me in my rehabilitation, please donate. I will be eternally grateful. As I said earlier, a little goes a long way. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
I hug You,
- Nikolett Balla
- Campaign Owner
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