Rush Limbaugh returned to the airwaves (KEIB 1150, Los Angeles) after a week during which he flew to a facility in Pasadena, CA and was given a second cochlear implant.
The broadcaster received an implant in his left ear 13 years ago. He describes the ear as containing 35,000 hair cells, which act as frequency receptors for sound. In Rush’s case, when his deafness occurred, these cells were lying flat, as if “dead,” alerting his immune system to flood the ears with white blood cells. He was treated with immuno-suppression drugs, even chemotherapy, to no avail.
At that time, Limbaugh was implanted with a state of the art, analog cochlear device in his left ear, consisting of 19-20 electrodes. He was told to leave the right ear as is in the event that a cure for the condition was discovered in the future.
Rush described the nature of sound as he was experiencing it prior to deciding to undergo a second surgery. People’s voices resembled chipmunks, he said, and violin music was like fingernails on a blackboard. Others have had more success with that particular implant, but Limbaugh was forced to turn off a number of the electrodes due to the irritation.
He was told that, although research is being conducted in Australia and New Zealand to regrow audio nerves in hamsters, a cure would not be forthcoming in his lifetime.
Incidentally, Rush mentioned that such a cure, when eventually discovered, would also affect the scourge of baldness, as it would revitalize those dead hair cells.
So Limbaugh chose to observe the hour-and-a-half-long surgery performed on a patient in Florida.
He describes it as “80% a sculpturing of the scull with a drill to carve out a trench, or canal” for the implant. The device is about 2″ long by 1″ wide and shaped like a bell.
Rush did his Thursday show wrapped in bandages that made him look “like Claude Rains in the Invisible Man.”
But nothing — “neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night” — will stop Rush Limbaugh from delivering the real, true news of the day to his vast and devoted audience.