Natalie Buttress

By Natalie Buttress

18 is the number connected symbolically with the Jewish word for Giving Life. It is a powerful symbol of sharing. Now, on our practice’s 18th birthday, I reflect on giving, and what it means to share in someone’s life while we give and receive. I started working in Audiology 26 years ago, but in September 2001, my doors opened in Sea Point Medical Centre. 18 years have passed rather quickly, but they have been filled with so much adventure, and love. Perhaps Time, can be measured in Chai.

I’m touched that my first patient, who is now 98, is still with me, and now I know most of her family.

I have had the privilege of caring for so many people over the past 18 years, including hearing about their children, their homes, their working-and-playing lives. Audiologists, who treating communication problems, find that a door opens for us to connect with each unique person’s rich, intricate worlds. Their lives. Chai.

I’ve watched people burst into tears as they reconnect with sound as it is meant to feel again, after years of being lost in a speechie-noisy mumble. I’ve seen tension leave couples, when they don’t have to ask: “sorry, pardon?” for the third time. My young professional patients feel the returning confidence when presenting at events. These can feel terrifying for someone with normal hearing but are much more distressing if you can’t hear properly. People can listen to that special song- the one that recaptures memory- and actually hear it again, fully. Music; people; connect us to life. Chai.


At the most fundamental level, I’ve discovered that it is impossible to be immersed in caring for others without being deeply touched by them.  I have been sculpted by my patients and their families. I have grown up in the light of their wisdom. So many of them have taken time to share their advice, experiences, joys and disappointments with me. Now I am different because of my work – and unbelievably thankful for it.

How do I even begin to share my appreciation for the loyal support this community has given us? Nothing I could say, would be enough. So, I simply say thank you, 18 times over, for being part of my journey, while I have been part of yours.

In honour of the community’s support of us, we embark on #18ActsofCommunityServicein18months. Our first #ActsofService, will take place on the 18 September. We will be helping some of Sea Point’s neighbourhood street people get some of their dignity back through an interactive beach clean-up, to sponsor 18 Identity Documents. You will find us on the Sea Point Prom, if you look!

All events of community service can be followed on our Facebook page and website blog.

Please join us, follow and connect with us, as we find ways to give our thanks.