Spinal dis­ease proves no bar­rier to suc­cess

Stu­dent finds a bal­ance be­tween med­i­cal treat­ments and study ses­sions

The Star Early Edition - - MATRIC RESULTS - MASEGO PANYANE masego.panyane@inl.co.za

Be­ing in ma­tric can be a stress­ful time in any young per­son’s life but hav­ing to con­tend with con­stant pain from a spinal dis­ease does not make things easy.

How­ever, not even the pain nor ses­sions with a phys­io­ther­a­pist ev­ery week­end could stop this 17-year-old Le­na­sia pupil from ob­tain­ing a num­ber of dis­tinc­tions in her fi­nal ma­tric exam.

Neha Pa­tel has Anky­los­ing Spondyli­tis, a sys­temic dis­ease that causes the bones of one’s spinal cord to fuse to­gether, thus lead­ing to the curv­ing of the spine. Neha ad­mits her ma­tric year was slightly more chal­leng­ing than other years she’s faced.

“My Grade 12 year was more stress­ful be­cause I had to jug­gle weekly phys­io­ther­apy ses­sions with putting in enough hours to­wards study­ing for my fi­nal ex­ams.

“On av­er­age, I would put in two hours ev­ery af­ter­noon study­ing and on week­ends I would try to put in six hours, but hav­ing phys­io­ther­apy ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing cut into my study time sig­nif­i­cantly,” Neha said.

While pain would some­times make study­ing dif­fi­cult, Neha said it was the per­fec­tion­ist in her and her fam­ily’s sup­port that kept her go­ing.

“The stress of not do­ing well would push me when it was tough, but my fam­ily have also been very sup­port­ive be­cause they looked af­ter me and made sure I did only what I could han­dle while study­ing and work­ing dur­ing the year.”

Neha also cred­its her suc­cess to her laid back fam­ily, who formed a sup­port sys­tem for her and kept her from be­ing vul­ner­a­ble to the pres­sure of do­ing well in ma­tric.

With ma­tric now in the bag, Neha says she in­tends to study ac­count­ing science at Wits as she be­lieves this will take her one step closer to her dream of be­com­ing a char­tered ac­coun­tant. Her love for ac­count­ing was sparked by her teacher, a Mr Than­drind who taught her the sub­ject for the last three years. Neha de­scribed her teacher as be­ing sup­port­ive which made her fall in love with the sub­ject even fur­ther.

An­other cop­ing mech­a­nism for the 17-year-old was her love for the arts, draw­ing and paint­ing in par­tic­u­lar that helped her cope with the tough ma­tric year.

“I would of­ten take a break by draw­ing or paint­ing. I nor­mally com­plete a piece a week. This would help me re­lax and take a break when I needed it.”

As Neha spent most of her time buried in her books, one per­son who missed her com­pany was her younger sis­ter, 10-year-old Son­ali.

“She’s a bit up­set that I haven’t had time with her the en­tire year. But I have made sure that I made it up to her now,” Neha said.

She re­ceived three dis­tinc­tions.

PIC­TURE: TI­MOTHY BERNARD

HOPE­FUL: Neha Pa­tel says she didn’t let any­thing hold her back.

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