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Looking Forward to Cochlear Implant Mapping

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  I'll be out on the Left Coast later in the week.  It's actually gonna be an exciting week. It's kind of unknown because it's later this week that I have my new cochlear implant activated and mapped and, at that point, find out whether or not it made sense to do it. (interruption) Well, no, 'cause it can't be any worse.  But there are no predictors.  It's just three weeks ago that I had surgery to have the cochlear implant put on the right ear.

They have to wait to turn it on and program it and map it for three to four weeks to let the swelling the surgical incision area go down.  So I'm scheduled for later this week after the program.  I'm not gonna miss any broadcast time.  It's fascinating the way this works, and, as many times as I've explained it to people, they can't grasp it.  If you don't understand it, it's not your fault, and the main problem is that people who can hear cannot understand.

Even though you think you might, you cannot understand total deafness.  You can't relate to it; you can't create it.  You can put earplugs in, but you still hear things. You can put headphones on with no audio; you can still hear things.  You do not know what total deafness is. You have no idea.  You cannot possibly relate to it, as hard as you try. It's not anybody's fault.  So the whole concept of a cochlear implant is foreign to people. 

The hearing is not natural.  It's totally bionic.  It's totally artificial.  It uses your audial nerve, but it does not use the ear.  Well, it uses the cochlea, but that's not even true.  It just taps into the audial nerve.  The ear actually is gone after the surgery. The way the implants work, there are 35,000 hair cells in each human hair.  They are actively awake. They stand up, they vibrate, they move around, and that's what enables you to hear.

That's the first step in the audial process for a human being, those hair cells.  Well, mine are dead, laying down. So they've been replaced with 21 man-made electrodes.  It's nowhere near 35,000.  So the sensitivity to various frequencies just isn't there.  But everybody is different.  They cannot tell you how you're gonna do no matter what. There are no predictors.  You don't know until you actually turn it on and have it mapped. 

That is another thing that's hard to explain.  It changes from person to person.  What will happen is, I'll sit in there wired up, and they'll start pumping tones into my cochlear implant at various frequencies, at an almost impossible-to-hear low volume.  And the moment you think that you hear the tone, you let them know, and they mark it down. 

After you do this for four hours with all different kinds of tones, what they think they've come up with is the frequency response and range that an individual has.  And if you're not honest with 'em, if you screw around, you can have a cochlear implant mapped in such a way you can't understand anything.  It can be done very easily. 

That's why it's precise.  It's nerve-wracking in terms of intense concentration to get it right.  You want it to be as good as it can be.  Anyway, that's what I'm looking forward to the end of the week. It can't get any worse than what it is.  The hope is that it will expand speech comprehension and improve my ability to determine where sounds are coming from.  I'll be sure and keep you posted on all of it.  

END TRANSCRIPT

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