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Enkosi! Thank you!

17 Feb 2015

Remember I wrote about how getting my hearing back through cochlear implant surgery would change my life? Well to do this I had to raise some money for the surgery, as this is not an MSF project. Lots of you helped and I want to say a massive THANK YOU to all of you who have donated towards my cochlear implant surgery. I know there were many different donations of different amounts – I was watching the GivenGain page and feeling so amazed.

Strangers from around the world whom I’ve never met before, you all came together and made this possible and for that I am so THANKFUL. Now the surgery is booked for the 20th February, then after four weeks the implants will be ‘switched on’, that’s where I will be introduced to the world of sound again. As my audiologist says, it will be a long journey but I am up for the challenge. I’m very excited to hear again, I have a lot of catching up to do with music, but I will take it one day at a time. Thank you to everyone who became a ‘Friend of Phumeza’, for your generosity, patience, kindness. I will keep you updated on what happens next.

In Isixhosa my language we say Enkosi, meaning Thank You!

If you don't know how cochlear implants work, my audiologist has shared this: Thanks to the generous funding received from over 180 donors from around the world, in addition to the funding being provided by her medical aid, the surgery for Phumeza’s cochlear implants will be taking place on Friday 20th February at Kingsburg Hospital, Cape Town. A cochlear implant is a technical device that will stimulate the hearing nerve in the inner ear. The implant consists of two parts: a series of electrodes that is implanted in the inner ear and a speech processor that is worn behind the ear. During the procedure, the internal part of the implant system will be surgically implanted inside Phumeza’s cochlea (inner ear).

After the surgery, a recovery period will allow for healing to take place. During this time Phumeza will not be able to hear any sound at all. About a month after surgery, an audiologist at Tygerberg Hospital will fit the external parts of the implant system, the speech processors, just behind Phumeza’s ears and will activate the devices. During the activation session the processors will be programmed via a computer and switched on. The microphones in the speech processors will pick up speech signals and translate them into an electrical code that is then delivered to the hearing nerve in the inner ear. This will result in electrical impulses being sent along the hearing nerve and to the speech and language centres in the brain, enabling Phumeza to start hearing again.

On the day of activation, Phumeza will likely start hearing some sounds, but it is unlikely that she will be able to understand what she is hearing. The process of learning to hear with a cochlear implant takes time. She will attend regular follow up appointments to programme her devices, as well as undergo aural rehabilitation (listening training) to help her adapt to the new sounds she will hear and to facilitate the brain’s learning that will need to take place. This adaptation can take a number of weeks. We expect that Phumeza will be hearing with greater ease after three to six months.