Bala’s Battle with FSGS August 19, 2021 by Rodrigo Campos-Sánchez At the age of 20 years old, Bala Krishnalal’s life was forever changed by the results of a kidney biopsy. In 2014, after suffering from recurring fevers for two years, Bala Krishnalal was diagnosed with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Like many FSGS patients, he was the first in his family to ever develop the rare kidney disease. “The doctor I was seeing at the time told me that something was wrong with my kidneys. The doctor needed to do a biopsy test on me to understand what was truly happening to me and what damage was possibly being done also,” Krishnalal said. After his kidney disease diagnosis, started what Krishnalal calls the real challenge — finding a doctor who specializes in rare, protein-spilling kidney diseases. He switched doctors multiple times until he found one who listened to him, was knowledgeable about his rare disease, and ultimately made him feel comfortable. “I changed doctors so many times because they did not treat me as a human being. They all had different opinions and treatment plans, which I did not really appreciate,” Krishnalal said. “But my current doctor is so much better. This person gives me so much confidence and listens to my opinions when we talk about prescriptions.” Although Krishnalal never experienced any swelling, one of the more common symptoms of FSGS, he did have a constant runny nose and frequent flu. He stresses the importance of maintaining a kidney-friendly diet and keeps a close eye on his salt and sugar intake. Krishnalal’s diagnosis came at the height of his college career. Being a student, he was also fully dependent on his parents. While Krishnalal’s mother and father were helping him pay for his education, there was not much left to put toward medical bills. “It affected me mentally and emotionally. The diagnosis only added more to what we thought was already hard to pay for,” Krishnalal said. His father, who worked as a taxi driver for 20 years, had to turn to other family members and close friends to borrow money in order to cover his son’s medical bills. “It was a very rough phase in my life, but with God’s grace, currently we are doing well economically. Things are better since I received a job after college,” Krishnalal added. Since graduating, Krishnalal secured a position as an automotive product certification engineer. Thankfully, FSGS does not affect his work ability. Despite his kidney disease, he feels completely fit, comfortable and enthusiastic at work. Seven years after his diagnosis, Krishnalal sees himself as a fighter, a warrior and as a man with FSGS who still has a million dreams ahead of him. “Now that I am on my own and am thinking about building a family with my significant other, I feel as if I am under a lot of pressure. I have many responsibilities I need to take on and always remember the fact that I do have FSGS no matter where I am,” he said. “It is challenging, yet the day will come when I overcome my disease, and many others will also.” Krishnalal is just weeks away from his wedding on September 10, 2021. “I’m overly excited. It is incredible that someone looked past the fact that I have FSGS. It is all about a positive mindset. One should not worry about their medical conditions yet worry about what is to come the next day. The future will be amazing,” Krishnalal said. Additionally, Krishnalal volunteers as a NephCure advocate. He actively connects with new patients, provides them with educational resources, and helps spread awareness for FSGS and other Nephrotic Syndrome related diseases. “I am here to support anyone in case of anything concerning FSGS. I do reach out to a lot of people, and I understand that the ones I do talk with already know a lot about the disease. Yet, there is still so much that can be done,” Krishnalal said.