I do not know their voices

I hope that the cochlear implants will bring me back to the world of the hearing and add a whole new perspective to my life.

Tuesday, August 20 2013

Poppi Makgobi, who is to receive a cochlear implant at Netcare Linksfield Hospital, says her life has changed dramatically since she lost her hearing five years ago.

“I have to be extra careful whenever I’m in public places because I cannot hear. People tell me that I talk too loudly, something I fail to notice because if I try to lower my voice, I do not make any sense to myself.”

These are the words of Sophey ‘Poppi’ Makgobi, who lost her hearing in 2008 during a long eight-month stay at Sizwe Tropical Disease Hospital. Poppi, having been diagnosed with multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis, had been prescribed life-saving medication to cure this terrible disease but unfortunately it affected her hearing.

Poppie’s distress did not end there. When she was fitted with hearing aids in 2009, she found that they caused her pain and exacerbated the ringing in her ears (tinnitus), so she could not wear them for long periods of time. “The hearing aids completely failed me. Ever since I lost my hearing all I experience is incessant noise and the hearing aids only worsened it,” she writes, as she has difficulty speaking.

The loss of her hearing has had a tremendous impact on both Poppi’s personal and professional life. As a member of a work team that relies heavily on verbal communication, Poppi is frequently left in the dark when important matters are discussed. “When new developments are talked about at work I often miss out. I also have difficulties with miscommunication and worry that I may appear incapable or incompetent if I ask for help,” notes Poppi.

There are also gaps in her personal life that lip-reading, emails and SMSes cannot fill. Poppi writes, “I have two naughty nephews and I desperately want to hear them speak. It is difficult to engage with them as I would like to, without being able to hear them. I miss hearing cricket commentary while watching sport on TV. My wish is to once more be a part of a world of noises and sound, of a baby’s cries, birds singing and cooing, cars in traffic and my brothers teasing.”

On 21 August Poppi will be taking her first step to rejoining the world of sound when she receives cochlear implants in a procedure which will be performed by ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeons, Dr Ashen Nanan and Dr Maurice Hockman, at the Netcare Linksfield Hospital. With more than 50 cochlear implants having been performed there, the hospital is well known for this life-changing procedure.

Poppi’s operation will be sponsored by 94.7 Highveld Stereo, the Bidvest Hear for Life Trust and the Netcare Foundation. The collaboration between these entities was established to provide financial assistance to patients in need of this vital implant, which can be extremely expensive. The Hear for Life Trust considers patients for treatment who have severe hearing loss that cannot be corrected by a hearing aid, and who do not have medical aid membership. Beneficiaries must reside in Johannesburg or its surrounds.

Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment says, “Poppi’s story is a special case, as most of the patients who have cochlear implants are children and individuals who have never been able to hear. Poppi knows what she has been deprived of over the past five years and is committed to seeing through the rehabilitation required after the implant. We are happy to be supporting Poppi on her journey back to the world of sound and look forward to witnessing the profound impact the implant will have on her life.”

When asked what she is most looking forward to hearing after her procedure, Poppi writes, “Since losing my hearing I have missed the sounds of music, especially my gospel CDs. I do not know the voices of the new friends I have made and look forward to hearing those. I miss hearing toddlers learning to talk and long to hear those fumbled, incoherent words they form when trying to speak.”

The 40-year-old administration clerk believes that the operation will truly be life changing. “I hope that the cochlear implants will bring me back to the world of the hearing and add a whole new perspective to my life.”

Poppi has big plans for when her cochlear implants finally get turned on a few weeks after her procedure, “I want to resume my studies, as I could not attend most courses offered by my company due to my hearing loss. I also want to establish myself in the sports world. Not as a player this time but perhaps as an administrator. Without hearing I have been forced to sit on the sidelines for far too long. I would like to thank everyone who is helping make my dream of rejoining the hearing world a reality,” she concludes.


Issued by : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Linksfield Hospital
Contact : Martina Nicholson, Sarah Beswick or Graeme Swinney
Telephone : (011) 469 3016
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