RUSH: Bud in Stow, Ohio. Great to have you on the program, sir. How are you?
CALLER: How you doing, Rush?
RUSH: Very good. Thanks.
CALLER: Been listening to you since August 1st, 1988, and I listen through 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. My right ear had total hearing loss. It was sudden. I went to bed one night, it was fine; got up the next morning, it was gone. And I just wanted to let you know just how much you inspired my decision to have this implant. You know, your impact goes far, far beyond the political out here in the fruited plains. And I just wanted to let you know that you’re an inspiration. And 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, other than political.
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 50% hearing in my left here.
RUSH: Now, can you hang on through the break here?
RUSH: ‘Cause we gotta take it here. Back here in just a second.
RUSH: Now, back to Bud in Stow, Ohio. It’s interesting that they authorized implant surgery when you still had 60% hearing on your left side. Back when I got mine, I wasn’t able… I don’t think. 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 the bone-anchored hearing aid. It uses bone conduction. My implant, the mount stud is actually an inch behind my right ear and it’s screwed right into the skull. After three months or so of healing, then the transducer will just clip on to that — and it’s removable. Clip on to that and the vibrations go down the cochlear nerve and all that stuff. So it’s a new system. I’ve been in touch with Cochlear throughout the whole process. It’s about a year-and-a-half old.
RUSH: Well, how you doing on speech comprehension on that side?
CALLER: Well, right now I can’t hear anything on the right ear. Once the transducer… They had this… Rush, they have this —
RUSH: Wait. You mean they haven’t activated it yet? That’s what you’re telling me?
CALLER: No. No, no. It’s gonna take about two-and-a-half, three months for the bone to heal around the anchor.
RUSH: Ah. Okay. See, mine was turned on 30 days. I don’t have the bone transducer.
CALLER: Yeah, you have the cochlear, right?
RUSH: I’m right into the cochlear nerve. They scoop out the entire inner ear and replace it with the man-made electrodes that connects to the nerve, and then it’s a crapshoot as to how well it works.
RUSH: Everybody’s different. There’s so many factors. The longer you’re deaf before you get it done, the less success you’ll have statistically.
CALLER: Right. The prime thing on this one was I still had one good nerve and that the bone conduction on the right side will actually activate the left side nerve. So —
RUSH: How long did this surgery take?
CALLER: About 45 minutes.
RUSH: Forty-five minutes?
CALLER: Yeah. They made a one-inch incision, dissected down to the skull, cleaned everything up and then they literally just screwed this thing into the skull. It looks like a T-15 stud and a snap.
CALLER: And, Rush, looking at one of the transducers, the Baha 5 is actually Bluetooth compatible.
RUSH: Yeah, see, that’s new. I have to wear a necklace around my neck if I want to use that Bluetooth stuff, which I don’t do. Mine’s an antique. Mine’s an antique compared to yours.
CALLER: (chuckles) Yeah, you were one of the first that I’d ever heard of. And, you know, because of your success and your don’t-give-up attitude — 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: Well, good for you. I appreciate you saying that.
CALLER: Well, it’s true. You have a far greater impact than beyond the political arena.
RUSH: Well, let me tell you: Hearing loss today doesn’t mean what it used to mean.
CALLER: No, it doesn’t.
RUSH: But 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 really significant loss.
CALLER: We had a checklist that we had to go down before we could do it.
RUSH: Right. Well, I’m glad it worked. I’m glad. I’m sure it’s gonna be successful. If you’ve got 60% hearing on your left side, that’s a great buffer. But, Bud, I appreciate the call. I really do. And best of luck with it. Here’s something I tell everybody, Bud — and you’ve 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 where 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.”
RUSH: Or if somebody’s in a wheelchair and can’t walk, you will not say, “Come on! Just get up and walk! Just try!”
CALLER: You’re absolutely right, Rush.
RUSH: But when you have hearing loss, people think you can hear and are just not trying or just not paying attention.
CALLER: You’re absolutely right.
RUSH: Bud, I still have people whisper to me on the golf course, thinking that I can hear them. And they know I’m deaf. Hearing, it’s a strange disability for people, because you can pretend to be blind. You can close your eyes, and you can pretend to not be able to walk, but you can’t, no matter what you do, folks, you cannot become totally deaf. You can’t plug your ears up, you can’t put headphones on, there’s nothing you can do that equates total deafness.
And, as such, everybody, “You can hear something, I know you can.” And because of the vagaries of the implant, some things I do hear that I’m surprised I hear. Acoustics. It’s amazing. But just be patient with people out there, Bud. Just be patient. ‘Cause they will lose patience with you, even though they know you can’t hear. Now, I appreciate the call.