Dhanya Ravi and her unbreakable spirit

“I think my bones break but I have never been broken,” says Dhanya Ravi with conviction. The 28-year-old speaks with such light-hearted candour that her bubbly voice belies the trauma she has had to brave all her life. Born with the rare genetic disorder Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), commonly known as brittle bone disease, Dhanya, however, is made of sterner stuff and refuses to be hamstrung by impediments.

“I was diagnosed with OI on the 56th day after my birth. It was initially quite difficult for doctors to find out,” says Dhanya over phone from Bengaluru, where is settled. Brittle bone disease results in a person having fragile bones that break easily. Dhanya, who had consulted over 50 specialists across the country, says she has suffered over 300 fractures since birth but that the frequency has reduced considerably. “The impact of the disorder is at its worst during one’s teenage years,” she says. But the gritty woman, a native of Palakkad, has learnt to tide over obstacles. Today, she is a motivational speaker and a freelance content writer for whom “the Internet is my world.” She loves to spend her time “networking” and staying connected with her friends and the world.

But it used to be much worse. “At one point of time, something as ordinary as sneezing or a loud noise, say a horn blaring or a pressure cooker going off, was enough to cause a fracture,” she says. The immediate care would be rodding or using a cast, in line with common treatment for any fracture and, of course, painkillers. But Dhanya says she has, over the years, gotten so used to the pain that she has long stopped taking painkillers. “Earlier, I used to immediately go to a doctor but I don’t do even that now,” she says with a laugh.

She had to seek home-schooling as her condition prevented her from attending a regular school. “Things maybe better now but back in my day, I was denied mainstream schooling.” But she bravely soldiered on, reading and writing as she was adamant that she had to stand on her own legs. Travelling is not easy but Dhanya prefers to get out of her comfort zone whenever she can. “It is indeed risky but I have to face it because I firmly believe that I shouldn’t waste today worrying about the pains of tomorrow.” Inside her house, her wheelchair, which she calls her “BMW” is of much assistance, while she makes use of strollers for kids when stepping outside.

Though residing in Bengaluru, Dhanya says she’s “very much in touch with Kerala” and travels to the State whenever possible. Her family has inevitably been a pillar of support and Dhanya, who stays with her parents, her elder brother and his family, thanks them for standing by her ever.

There’s no permanent cure for OI and its one of her wishes to bring in a policy where in doctors make screening for genetic diseases mandatory right at the early stages of pregnancy. Dhanya is also an active member of city-based community initiative Amritavarshini Charitable Society, which aims to lend assistance to those afflicted with the disorder. She also spends much of her time participating in awareness campaigns as she feels “people should know about genetic diseases well” to help early detection.

Dhanya has doubtless been an inspiration for many, but what about her inspirations in life? “(laughs) To be frank, I really do not have any role models as such, however, there are many good things to learn from each person. I believe we should be our own role model.” She chirply says the secret to her positivity and energy is simply because of a sense of “contentment.” “I have been very happy. Despite all the pain and difficulties I had to go through, I’m content with myself,” she says.

Dhanya is in the city as part of the ongoing International Autism Conference hosted by CADRRE, The Autism Centre, where she speaks on ‘How I embrace myself and my life’ today.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 10:46:01 PM |

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