RUSH: Eric in Charlotte, North Carolina, you’re up first today, Open Line Friday. Great to have you. Hello, sir.
CALLER: Thank you. Mega dittos and mega kudos, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: I want to talk about Donald Trump and Ben Carson in a moment. But hopefully toward the end, if time permits, I got a personal question for you, if your grace will provide it. I’ve been a Ben Carson fan — big time Ben Carson fan, for a second, Rubio fan/supporter for a good while. Trump, I just respect his businessman. He’s a huge ego but what guy runs for president doesn’t have one? But I hadn’t really been too much on board with him. I’d be really scared if he ever ran on third party. But this thing this week he made the pledge that he’s not gonna run under a third-party ticket is a game-changer. They sort of forced his hand down there.
RUSH: I don’t… Has he made the pledge or did he just verbally assure the GOP brass that he would not go third party?
CALLER: Okay, if he assured… He’s probably a man where his word is his bond and he is the equivalent.
RUSH: That’s true.
CALLER: But this is a huge game-changer. I think with South Carolina playing hardball saying that if you don’t take the pledge we’re not gonna put you on the ballot, that sort of shook him up. He probably did a little powwow with them. The RNC probably saw that this guy’s not stopping, he’s not slowing down, and they did a powwow with him, and they’re on his side. And a lot of people are beginning to see, “Okay, this guy is just a businessman.
“He’s smart, he’s brilliant, he knows what he’s doing. He’s kind of shoots from the hip a lot but he’s no fool, he’s no idiot,” and the thing is I am now a supporter of his simply because of the fact that he took this pledge pretty much that, hey, he’s not gonna bail out and run third party, ’cause that would ruin everything. If he chose Ben Carson, this would be an unstoppable, undeniable, unbeatable ticket, or even Rubio. But the bottom line is: I think now this thing, him making this type of move, he had no —
RUSH: Eric, wait a minute. Why do you think choosing Ben Carson…? Don’t infer any opinion here. I’m not judging you.
RUSH: I’m curious. Why do you think Carson as his choice makes it unbeatable? Is it because Carson will attract enough black votes from a Democrat candidate to doom them?
CALLER: Without a doubt that. That’s not gonna be the main thing, but everyone knows that this man is a brilliant guy. He’s a neurosurgery surgeon. Being black is definitely a huge plus. There are white people who will vote for him just because he’s black, not to mention just so black people vote. He will garner a number of support — a big support from them, because he’s a true black American and he’s not half-black, half-white like Obama, who is not the first black president. That’s another discussion, but the point —
RUSH: Right, right, right. “Authenticity,” you get into little murky gray areas.
CALLER: Well, but the point is —
RUSH: What’s the personal…? What’s the personal question that you have for me?
CALLER: Rush, I’ve been listening to you for years. A lot of people don’t know that you are deaf without that implant, because you have new people who tune in. And I have been wondering. I think it’s amazing that you can do this show the way you do, but I have always wanted to know about your own emotions. During that time when you were losing your hearing and when you finally realized it’s gone…
You’ve never really expressed your deep, deep emotions. And I said, “You had to have been going through anguish, hell at that time, and you had to try to relieve yourself with medication, and everybody knew that was kind of a disaster because it affected the way you were delivering your talks and the way you communicated. It was horrible.” But I always just wanted to know: What did you go through deep in your soul emotionally? You’ve never really expressed that to us.
RUSH: Well, you’re right. I haven’t. I haven’t spoken much about it, only because I consider that to be bleeding on people publicly, which I’ve never been a fan of. It’s not that I’m afraid talking about my emotions. It’s just that I’ve never… I’ve thought it was sort of unfair to burden people with them. Because it didn’t matter, really, to anything. You know, my feelings about it? They ran the gamut.
You know, the hearing loss started in small doses before I really knew it was hearing loss. I was losing my hearing, and I just was chalking it up to different things, like a fan in my cigar room in New York didn’t sound at full speed. So I had ’em come out and said, “Something’s wrong with the fan.” They came out and they said, “Why?” I said, “Because I can barely hear it. It’s running at half speed. I know there’s something wrong with it.” They came out and said, “No, no. Everything’s fine.”
Okay. What was happening was, I was losing my hearing and didn’t know it. And first in my left ear, and then I started noticing the TV wasn’t loud enough and I went to the doctor and gave them my family history. He said, “Well, you’re getting at that age where you lose some hearing. It’s genetic.” And then didn’t stop. I was losing 10% of my hearing a week. No, it was a month, 10% a month.
So after 30% of my hearing was gone, they sent me to specialists, and some dibble-dabble took place. I guess if I’d have gone to the House Clinic at the outset, they might have been able to save it. But that’s an “if,” and I really don’t live in “if” ’cause I didn’t do that, because nobody realized what was happening was catastrophic. Then when they did the drugs that you talk about, they threw every drug in the world at me.
They threw chemo drugs, anything to stop my immune system, to shut it down, because it was an autoimmune attack on my inner ear, my ear cells. And that didn’t work. And now I’m out of time to answer your question, which I still haven’t gotten to it, but I will. I’ll answer the question during the program today, because I don’t think I ever really have, and I promise to do this on Open Line Friday, so I may as well.
RUSH: I have to begin is this hour with the answer to an Open Line Friday question from the previous hour. I ran out of time, and I can’t duck the question. I promised that I would take the question. It’s what Open Line Friday is. I extend the invitation. The guy called and after telling me that he thinks the great ticket would be Trump and Ben Carson, he wanted to know what my emotional experiences were as I was losing my hearing. My staff was saying, “Don’t answer that! Save that for the movie!”
I said, “What movie? There isn’t gonna be a movie. If there’s ever a movie, it’s not gonna be one I do.”
“You can’t! That’s a great, untold story. You can’t share that.”
I said, “I’m already committed.”
It’s not that much to it, anyway. Look, I could spend the next hour talking about this or I can answer this question in two minutes, max. Which version do you want? You tell me in there. (interruption) Which…? (laughing) Here’s the two-minute version, as best I remember it. Remember now, what was this? When did I lose my hearing? Was it end of…? Oh, that’s right. I was losing it during 9/11. That’s right. That’s right.
On 9/11, I was on my way to play in a Warren Buffett charity the golf tournament, and 9/11 happened, and the FAA gave every aircraft in the sky 45 minutes to land. We didn’t… There’s no way to get back home, so we landed and turned around somewhere. (interruption) No, because we’re on the way to Omaha. It was like somewhere in Tennessee we had to turn around and got back to a strip in Florida.
But we still had to drive an hour and a half or an hour to get back here, and I remember not being able to understand a thing on the radio. And one of the flight crew was driving me, and I was having them repeat to me what the details were of 9/11. I had not seen any pictures yet, and I was unable to even hear the flight crew. I mean, at that point I really hadn’t… All I’d had was hearing aids, but they were only amplifying the noise of things I could not comprehend.
I really could not comprehend speech. I will never forget the day that I came in here. Back in the old days before we needed any assistance, I was in here by myself every day during this program, and came in one morning and made the phone call to New York to establish the connection and could not understand. And that was the fateful day. I could hear it. It was dim; it was in the distance. I could not comprehend. My hearing had gotten to the point where I just could not make out words people were saying.
Now, that was scary.
I’m kind of jumping ahead here. But I had no way that day of taking phone calls. I didn’t have a court reporter, didn’t have a transcriber, didn’t have any of that by that time, and there was no way that I would be able to take a phone call. Then eventually we a got court reporter in and I remember getting a call from Rudy Giuliani one day. All this is running together. Let me stick with the emotions. The first emotion was denial. “Well, it’ll little stop. It’s genetic.
“It’s gotta level off at some place and hearing aids will fix it and then I’ll continue to lose my hearing as I get older.” But it just kept going and just kept going. So I started going to specialists, and everywhere I went I had the same tests. Nothing was being advanced. Every place I went it was as though I was going in for the first time. They did the same hearing tests that I’d already done at the previous stop. It got a little frustrating, and became clear to me that nobody knew.
It became clear that nobody had a clue until it was too late. These people at House Clinic diagnosed it for what it was. It was an autoimmune attack. I mean, my immune system thought my ears were a disease and were flooding them with white blood cells, killing the hair cells, is what was happening. That’s why they put me on every chemo… I was taking Enbrel, had to shoot that up. I don’t even know what it’s used for, but they had me on a cocktail of things just to stop the immune system.
And of course that put me at risk for other things. I remember one Friday during the program, during the treatment of all this I get an e-mail from a local doctor saying, “You have got to stop what you’re doing and get yourself to the hospital now.” They had just gotten some blood tests back and I was bleeding internally from all this medicine. They said, “If you don’t get over here fast, you’re in trouble.” So I finished the program, and I went over to the hospital, and I was there for a weekend getting all kinds of transfusions with blood replaced.
The medicine was just… It was vicious. It was multiple different things that they were throwing at me just to try and stop the immune system, but none of it worked. But when it first was explained to me that I could lose every bit of my hearing, I asked, “What’s the solution?” They said, “This thing called cochlear implants,” and the way they were explained to me, it sounded like a perfect solution. So even as I was losing my hearing, I was confident that I was gonna be able to get it back.
And at some point… I mean, there was real fear and so forth. I mean, I was looking at the end of my career and everything, but I never… Honestly, folks, I never gave in to that. I assumed that the implant would work at least well enough that I would continue to be able to do the job, and it did. I was actually totally, 100% deaf for two months before I had the surgery for the first cochlear implant, and it was two months instead of one.
I was supposed to have the surgery after 30 days, and then I got an infection and they couldn’t do surgery because I had a cold or something. So it was two months. I did the radio show every day, had court reporter transcribing phone calls. I had no idea what I sounded like. I even asked, “Look, do I even need this? You know, I’m a voice student. I know how my voice feels. Can I just do this? Will I be able to sound normal to people?” And they said no. If you can’t hear yourself, you at some point will lose it.
“You couldn’t do your job. Your voice will change, the way you speak will change, and it will become apparent that you have a disability.” So there was no option. I had to do the implant, and they can’t even tell you it’s gonna work, because it’s different in every person. There are no guarantees. The only thing they tell you is, “Yeah, you’ll be able to hear. You’ll hear environmental sounds. Whether or not you’ll be able to comprehend speech, we won’t know until a month after the surgery.”
And I was very lucky.
I first tested out of 80% speech comprehension. But I don’t know. The short answer to this emotion business is I don’t remember ever caving to the idea that I was finished. I don’t think it ever… I mean, the possibility crossed my mind, but it never seemed real. The idea I wouldn’t be able to do this never seemed real. And, by the way, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for emotion, folks, because the ongoing effort to save the hearing was quite time consuming.
Every free moment I had was spent with doctors and tests and various ways to try to save the hearing, consultations. It was quite busy. There wasn’t a whole lot of downtime to just do nothing but feel sorry for myself, and I can honestly tell you I didn’t feel sorry for myself at any stage. I never have. I don’t know why. I just never have done that about anything. ‘Cause there’s always, to me, options. There’s always a future. It’s nothing’s ever definitively over or the end.
So I had faith the implant would work. I didn’t know what it would mean, but I was assured that some kind of hearing would be restored. So that’s the short answer to the question on the emotion. There was initial fear. Well, denial was the first thing, then the fear. And, yeah, there was some… I was scared for a while. One of the doctors told me at one point, “You know, you’re really scared. You know this.” I said, “I am?” “Yeah, you’re trying to cover it up, but you’re scared. It’s understandable you’d be scared to death.”
The most fascinating thing to me about all this, honestly, is not what’s happened to me. The most fascinating thing to me about all this is how other people deal with it, not me. That has been the most mind-opening thing about all this that I could ever… The last thing I would ever think would be the big experience of, the big experience has been the way other people react to it, or don’t. It has been a real eye-opener. It has taught me so much about people, various types of people, various human characteristics.
That has been the real fascinating thing. And I know you’re saying, “Well, what do you mean?” Well, I’ll give you an example, just one. All of my close friends obviously know that I can’t hear. But they don’t know it. They don’t know it, because I can. I have these implants, and they can talk to me. So they have no concept. A person that can hear cannot conceive of deafness. You can’t manufacture it. Total deafness, I mean. You can’t create it.
You can cover your ears. You can put cotton in your ears. You can do everything to plug them, but you cannot create total deafness. And, as such, you can’t understand it. You can pretend to be blind and know what that’s like. And you can pretend that you can’t walk. You can put yourself in a chair and imagine not being able to move and what that would entail. But you cannot imagine not being able to hear, unless you can’t.
And I mean total deafness, not hearing loss, and not hard-of-hearing. I mean total deafness. You can’t relate to it. As such… I was playing golf one day, and I ran into a guy didn’t even know. It was up at Jupiter Hills and I ran into a guy. I was coming off the practice range. The guy came up to me and said, “You know, I really admire what you’re doing.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I said, “Why?”
“I don’t know how you’re still working. You’re deaf, for crying out loud! You’re deaf!”
I said, “Well, implants, this, that,” explained to him.
He said — and I’ve never forgotten this. He said, “Hearing loss, deafness is the only disability where the victim is blamed. Have you found that?”
I said, “What do you mean?”
“Do people get mad at you for not being able to hear them?”
I laughed. “All the time.”
He said, “That’s what I mean. You’re the one that can’t hear; they get mad at you. Because they can’t relate to not being able to hear. And when they’re around you and you’re wearing your implant, you can hear them, so they think you can hear them all the time. They do not get it. They just don’t,” and he was right. He was dead-on right. And the way it manifests itself is… Well, let’s say I’m on the golf course. I’m on the driver’s side. Let’s say before I got the implant on my right ear, so I can only hear out of my left.
I’m on the driver’s side. My good buddy, whoever it is sitting on my right talking to me in a normal tone of voice as we’re motoring along and the golf clubs are rattling and making noise and the wind is going through the microphone. I can’t understand a single word. Two years later, same circumstance. The guy still doesn’t speak up, doesn’t aim for my left ear, just keeps talking. It’s just… I don’t know how to explain it.
As I say, it’s been fascinating to study it and try to understand it, and I don’t complain about it. You know, I just I’ll stop the cart and I’ll turn my head and get three inches from them and say, “Could you say that again,” and it’ll happen after I do that. Five minutes later they’ll try to talk to me with all the racket again, and I’ll stop the cart, and I’ll turn my head and get three inches. They don’t learn. And that has been the fascinating thing about it.
And this is not a criticism. It’s human nature. It’s just the way… I think it’s all rooted in the fact that people simply can’t relate to it, even people I’ve explained it to in great detail — and I can’t explain the acoustics. Here’s another example. Sometimes at the front of the airplane, I can hear what is being said 20 feet behind me. With all the racket, I can hear it. I cannot I understand what somebody directly across the aisle is saying. If, in an example like this…
Oh, the racket from the galley and whoever is taking things out? I hear perfectly fine. Somebody straight across the aisle just two feet away from me, I cannot hear ’em. I can hear ’em; I can’t understand what they’re saying. So on one instance like that, a good friend of mine is in the back of plane. He’s a doubting Thomas. He’s one of these guys that thinks that I am lying to him when I can’t hear him. He thinks that I’m making it up to avoid conversation with him.
So he happens to be back in the plane, and he cracks some joke about something, and five minutes later I say that was a funny joke. See, you can hear! You can hear. You have selective hearing like everybody else. I said, “No, no, no. I’m not selecting what I hear at all. I’m trying to tell you, I can’t explain it. When I tell you I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you. I’m not making it up.” How many of you have somebody in your family hard-of-hearing and you think they’re just not paying attention to you?
I did. My dad was losing his hearing; I didn’t believe it. I thought he wasn’t trying. I thought he didn’t want to talk to me. I thought he was just ignoring me and didn’t want to go to the trouble. We all thought that. Now I know the difference. It’s different than losing your sight. It’s different than losing your ability to be ambulatory. It’s something about hearing and people’s inability to relate to deafness that explains it.
That kind of thing, by the way, has had an effect. I put myself in very few… Well, that’s not the way to put it. Let me think about how to explain this. Let me take a break. I have to do that anyway. I’m sure you’re fed up with all this by now anyway. See, I gave not the two-minute version, but longer than I intended.
RUSH: Lou Bega here, Mambo Number 5. And if I didn’t know what it was, it would just be noise to me. Since I’ve heard this song before I lost my hearing, my brain, my memory tells me what the melody is. But if I didn’t know what this song is, it would be noise. It’d be the same note, and it would be flat. The real challenge with hearing as a disability is it’s the only one you can’t see. You can’t… Well, except in my case.
I mean, you could see these things on the side of my head. I don’t know what people think they are. The odds are most people have never heard of a cochlear implant so they don’t know what that is, so they think it’s some side of maybe a secret communication device or maybe it’s a Bluetooth thing to help me with my phone. But other than that, you can’t see deafness. But you can see somebody who’s blind. You can tell.
They’re wearing dark glasses or they can’t make eye contact with you, and if they do you can see that they can’t see you; so you know. A wheelchair tells you that somebody is unable to walk. Other disabilities are clearly visible, and being able to see them clicks something in the brain. But hearing loss, being deaf, you can’t see it. Plus, if you happen to listen to the radio every day and you hear me every day — and if I sound normal and if you’re able to hear me converse with callers — you don’t think I have hearing loss.
So it’s all understandable that people don’t get it. But it’s still… To me, it’s fascinating to study it to try to alleviate some of it.
RUSH: Just a quick second on Open Line Friday. Just couple of more things, and I promised to answer our first caller’s questions about this. Now, as to the emotion when this was all happening? Look, folks, all I can tell you is, I never — even in moments of solitude and quiet — cried about it, and I never went, “Woe is me,” and I never felt like anything was unfair. I’m the mayor of Realville. You know, I just… Whatever is, is.
I’m sorry. I know that distances me from most people, in terms of being able to reality to things. But I’m a hard, hard, cold, literal realist, and that’s what was happening. And so the emotional focus I had outside of fear… There was plenty of that over not being able to continue my job, which I love. But it didn’t dominate because the effort to save the hearing was intense, and it had serious medical consequences such as the internal bleeding, intestinal/internal bleeding from all the medicine and all the testing.
I was a guinea pig for a lot of things, as they were trying to save my hearing. In fact, I’ll tell you: Shortly after my experience, I got a call from Tom Hicks, who was the owner of Texas Rangers. The same thing was happening to him in one ear and he wanted to know what I had done, and I told him. In my case, it was autoimmune, and he was dealt with in a way they were able to save his. And they did it with direct injections in the ear of whatever the drug cocktail was working. I don’t mean to be giving anything away.
It was flattered that he called, and it worked for him. I think it might have been his brother now that I think about it. But it differs from person to person. You just never know. They don’t know, particularly when it comes to cochlear implants. They don’t know why some people do exceedingly well with them and others don’t, because it’s the brain, and every brain’s different and every set of circumstances is different.
One of the things they tell you is, “Once you lose your hearing, do not wait to get an implant. The longer you wait, the greater the odds your brain’s gonna forget how to hear.” That’s how they explain it to you — and in my case, it’s true. I did my implant in my left ear within two months, and at first had 80% speech comprehension. I’m down to 50% now for reasons I won’t get into. I waited, whatever it’s been, 10 years, 13 for the right side, and the right side’s useless by itself.
It has no volume. It’s fuzzy. Everybody sounds like chipmunks. It only works if I have the left side attached to it. If all I had was in my right side, I could not be doing this job. That’s how bad it is. One side of my brain forgot how to hear. That’s how they explain it. Now, one other thing I want to explain here ’cause I get this question a lot. It’s not related to hearing. “Why aren’t you on TV more?” I’ve always told people I don’t like TV, which is true. I really don’t.
The reason I don’t like TV is ’cause I’m not a collaborator, and television is collaboration. Directors have to know what’s coming next; producers have to know. Stage managers, camera have to know what’s coming. I don’t work that way. I’ve never had a meeting to do the radio show. I don’t. Sometimes I don’t even decide in advance what I’m gonna talk about; it just happens. You can’t do that on TV. It’s impossible. But there’s another reason now, and that is, I cannot do remote television appearances.
I mean, I cannot go to a satellite studio here, say, and appear on a Fox program. I simply can’t hear it. I cannot hear the IFB. I just cannot comprehend what’s said. Plus, there’s more than one voice. You hear the director and you hear the host; I simply cannot. That is worse than a cell phone connection, and I cannot hear what’s being said to me. It simply is not… My hearing is why I don’t do TV. The reason why I don’t do too much studio TV is because even there, I have to plug in in order to hear.
If they’re gonna play audio they want me to react to or if they’re gonna take phone calls and I have to plug in, it’s not as bad as being on remote. But the problem is, I have to concentrate 120% of the time on what I’m hearing. And when I devote 120% concentration to what I’m hearing, I’m not even thinking about what I’m gonna say. And I don’t hear everything. I’ll miss two or three words. My mind has to race trying to tell myself what I just heard, based on the context of things.
I wish I could give you an example. This happens in person all the time. I’ll be in the car or somewhere, and somebody will say something to me. And let’s say they use 20 words and I hear 15 of them. Those 15 words I hear, I have to try to get the five words I missed, and this is in split seconds. I have to take those 15 words, combine them with the thing we’re already talking about, and then guess what they’ve said.
That concentration, to do that on TV, I would look like a deer in the headlights because my total focus is concentration, trying to understand what’s being said. And that just doesn’t look good. The only time I could do TV is if nobody was talking to me and I was simply up there rattling off a monologue or speech or whatever I was doing, like the CPAC thing. My First Address to the Nation. But a guest on a TV show, I simply can’t do it, unless the person is right here next to me and I don’t have to hook up to hear it.
If there are electronics involved, I’m stuck. So that’s why you don’t see me on TV. I literally cannot do it. I cannot hear remotely, and even if I’m in a studio and I’m hooked up, I don’t hear every word, and then I have to start guessing at what I’ve heard. And, believe me, it’s not conducive to a flowing conversation. There’s no court reporter. There’s nobody transcribing what’s being said on a TV set for me to look in case I need some help. It just isn’t there, and that wouldn’t work on TV anyway, because no matter how fast it is, it’s not instantaneous.
Enough of that.