Spinal disease proves no barrier to success
Student finds a balance between medical treatments and study sessions
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.
HOPEFUL: Neha Patel says she didn’t let anything hold her back.