The year 2016 was meant to be the exciting final year of 24-year-old Thobani Mkananda’s BA Psychology degree. Instead, it turned into the most traumatic year of his life when he suffered a sudden stroke.
After the stroke Thobani, now 26, could not speak coherently or walk, he lost the use of his hand and his face froze on the affected side, which all lead to him missing his examinations.
An MRI scan revealed a blocked artery in the left hemisphere of the brain, which is what doctors suspect caused the stroke. They later put him on a monitored programme to thin out the artery.
After his two-week hospital stay, Thobani’s church community took turns hosting him in their homes and congregants from various medical fields assisted with his recovery process.
He said his church stepped in when his family, based in Lusikisiki, could not due to financial constraints.
After months of a series of intensive therapies, Thobani is well on his way to recovery.
He had to undergo speech therapy to learn how to speak again, physiotherapy to help with the mobility of his lower limbs and occupational therapy to try and assist him with his hand. He also required biokinetic therapy, keeping him in shape, exercising the whole body.
“I also attended psychotherapy to help me process the trauma, and to assist in the readjustment of my outlook on life. It is still helping me and I hope to continue this through to the completion of my studies,” he said.
“Even though I still only have the use of one hand, I thank God that I can now almost do all that I could do before the stroke, even if not perfectly. However, I am still trusting God for complete restoration of what was lost.”
Thobani has expressed his gratitude to the many who assisted him on his journey towards his qualification.
“I thank Nelson Mandela University with all its resources, they were readily there when my functions were disrupted. I thank my faculty for their patience and support, they encouraged me to finish this degree.
“Student counselling, I do not know if I could have come this far if it were not for them. The Disability Unit was ready to assist with anything I would need, they knew my needs before I could express them and helped me acquaint myself with the adjustments that I was to make.
“I was also so blessed and grateful to have my spiritual family at Oxygen Life Church. It was not easy, but with all their help I’ve done it,” he said.
Thobani graduates on 21 April and is currently working on his Postgraduate Diploma in Maritime Studies.