KEN: Remember the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno? Well, he lost his hearing as a toddler due to an ear infection. I didn’t know that. Now, I knew he had a hearing problem, but I didn’t really know all the details, as that happens often. After dealing with his hearing loss for nearly his entire life, he had multiple ear infections as a toddler, and that caused nerve damage. And at 69 years old he got a cochlear implant. And here he explains why.
FERRIGNO: Why not go for it? I want to hear better. It’s frustrating because it’s hard to hear the wife and the kids and ’cause they keep saying something mumbling. But this happens to people who have a hearing loss or they lose their hearing. So, I didn’t want to be one of the people that just feel sorry for myself and suffer, because I’ve heard so many wonderful things about a cochlear implant.
KEN: As many of you know, Rush also experienced hearing loss and received the cochlear implant as well. In fact, he inspired others to consider the treatment option, like this caller from Ohio.
RUSH: Bud in Stow, Ohio. Great to have you on the program, sir. How are you?
CALLER: Been listening to you since August 1st, 1988. And I listen to all your trials and stuff. And I just gotta let you know, Wednesday of last week I had cochlear implant surgery.
RUSH: You did?
CALLER: Yes. In my right ear. Had total hearing loss. It was sudden. Went to bed one night, it was fine. Got up the next morning, it was gone. And I just wanted to let you know how much you inspired my decision to have this implant. You know, your impact goes far beyond the political out here in the fruited plains. And I just wanted to let you know that you’re an inspiration, and, you know, so far, I’m glad I’ve had it. I’m doing well. But you just had to know just how much of an impact you have.
RUSH: I cannot thank you enough. That is very inspirational to hear. You can still hear in your left ear a little?
CALLER: Yeah, I’ve got about 60% hearing in my left ear.
RUSH: It’s interesting that they authorized implant surgery when you still had 60% hearing on your left side. Back when I got mine, my memory is that you had to have under 10% hearing loss in both ears before you could be approved by the FDA for the surgery. That’s probably changed since then.
CALLER: Yeah, that’s changed. And we’re going with the Baha system, which is a bone anchored hearing aid. It uses bone conduction. My implant, the mount is actually about an inch behind my right ear. And it’s screwed right into the skull. And after three months or so of healing, then the transducer will just clip onto that. And it’s removable. So, it’s a new system. I’ve been in touch with Cochlear through the whole process. It’s about a year and a half old.
RUSH: Well, how are you doing on speech comprehension on that side?
CALLER: Well, right now I can’t hear anything on the right ear.
RUSH: Oh, wait. You mean they have activated it yet? That’s what you’re telling me?
CALLER: No, no. It’s gonna take about two and a half, three months for the bone to heal.
RUSH: Ah. Okay. See, mine was turned on 30 days. I don’t have the bone transducer.
CALLER: Cochlear, right?
RUSH: I’m right into the cochlear nerve. They scoop out the entire inner ear.
RUSH: And replace it with a pillow with the man-made electrodes that connects to the nerve. And then it’s a crap-shoot as to how well it works. Everybody’s different. There are so many factors. The longer you’re deaf before you get it done, the less success you’ll have statistically. How long did this surgery take?
CALLER: About 45 minutes.
RUSH: 45 minutes.
CALLER: You’re one of the first that I’d ever heard of. And, you know, because of your success and your don’t-give-up attitude, and you didn’t let that stop you from your love of what you do. That’s part of the inspiration that helped me decide to go ahead and do this.
RUSH: Good for you. I appreciate you saying that.
CALLER: Oh, it’s true. You have a far greater impact than beyond the political arena.
RUSH: Well, let me tell you, the loss, the hearing loss today doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
RUSH: Not everybody is, how to phrase it. Not everybody is a candidate for implant surgery. There have to be some circumstances met. Back in my day you had to have…
CALLER: Yeah. We had a checklist that we had to go down.
RUSH: Right. Well, I’m glad it worked. I’m glad, I’m sure it’s gonna be successful. But, Bud, I appreciate the call. I really do. And best of luck with it. Here’s something I tell everybody, Bud. And you probably already have learned this just in the course of living your life. I have found that the disability of hearing loss is the only disability in the world the victim is blamed for having it.
RUSH: For example, if somebody can’t see, you would never say to them, “Just look harder. I know you can see. You’re faking, just look harder.” Or if somebody’s in a wheelchair and can’t walk, you will not say, “Come on. Just get up and walk. Just try.” But when you have hearing loss…
CALLER: You’re absolutely right, Rush.
RUSH: People think you can hear and are just not trying or just not paying attention. Hearing is a strange disability for people. But just be patient with people out here, Bud. Just be patient.
KEN: Great advice for, say, Joe Biden as well. He’s caught in some of those faux pas.