Soon after I turned 15 in 2017 after returning from NYC and North Carolina from summer intensives, my illnesses onset. I developed many unexplainable symptoms and started having TIA’s upon movement, especially when attempting to dance. I saw 53 doctors throughout the country over 2 years and my symptoms became so severe that I was completely bedridden at times and could not engage in any typical daily activities. Even after two trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, my illness was still mysterious to every doctor and specialist.
By December 2017 I was completely restricted from ballet. My memory went from nearly “photogenic” to not being able to remember any details about my day, where I had been, or what I had done. My symptoms kept getting progressively worse to the point where I couldn’t stand, walk myself to the bathroom, or sit up without extreme dizziness and losing my vision for a few moments. I was in severely excruciating chronic pain; my body seemed to be failing. At first it was suggested that my issues could possibly be a brain tumor, but thankfully that was ruled out after an MRI and many tests. I was then told that I had an artery tear and that it would be life threatening which was such a terrifying moment for me, but again, thankfully that was not the case. A suggestion that I could have Thorasic Outlet syndrome where the arteries, veins, and nerves are being compressed in the thoracic area, led me to visiting multiple vascular surgeons. I needed to have major rib removal surgery.
In March 2019 I had my surgery in Texas to remove my first rib, cut muscles in my neck, and underarms. There was some improvement, but I had TOS bilaterally, so in June 2019 I went back for surgery on the other side. There was improvement but I was still suffering from symptoms and I was still not able to function properly. At the advice of all of my doctors, they thought a breast reduction was medically necessary and was causing more compression on my body. In December 2019 I went back to Texas for my 3rd surgery where I had a breast reduction where they removed 2lbs of tissue from me. Over 50 physical therapy sessions, 100’s of Acupuncture visits, many massages in attempts to help, more chiropractic visits than I could count, I still could not use my arms properly, sit in any position without symptoms, or bend down and put on shoes without feeling like I could actually die. Along the journey it was discovered that I had mercury poisoning. All of the trauma on my body led to nervous extreme system dysfunction. I developed severe reactive hypoglycemia and when I ate anything, my blood sugar would drop to seriously dangerous levels. I was hospitalized and no doctor could figure out why this was happening.
In August 2020 I tried to return to ballet but I didn’t have enough energy and I couldn’t keep my blood sugar up. I was having to eat every 20 minutes and was not able to sleep because of this. In January 2021 I visited a clinic for two weeks to try to regulate my vagus nerve. By February 2022 I was going to drop out of university because I was unable to get out of bed. I soon found a specialist who completely changed my diet contradictory to every nutritionist and doctor I have seen. I had been to 76 doctors and made my way to a new functional medicine doctor who diagnosed me with mold illness. I started blood filtering treatments along with many IV’s to detox my body.
In September 2022, I was able to begin beginner ballet twice a week at my university. I had to start very slowly as my body could still not handle it, but by the end of the class in December, I felt like I had gained a great amount of my strength back. I contacted my ballet teacher, Zinaida Khazanova, who had worked with me since I was 13 and asked her if she would still work with me after all these years. Zinaida was happy to train me again and the week of Christmas I started working with her to run variations for competition. In February 2023 I was able to attend ADC and last weekend I was able to compete at YAGP and placed in both, receiving 2nd place at YAGP.
After five grueling years of medical issues I am finally able to be engaging with my passion again. It is incredibly meaningful to me because I was told numerous times by so many people that it would be impossible to return to ballet and I should simply give up. If I can do it, you can too!
You can follow Kalin's journey on Instagram @kalin0202