He's finally doing it: Thirteen years after Rush Limbaugh received his first cochlear implant, he will undergo surgery next week to receive one in his other ear.
In 2001, Limbaugh noticed his hearing was rapidly growing worse – a shocking discovery for anyone, but particularly tragic for a man who makes his living engaging with callers on talk radio.
Surgeons were able to partially restore Limbaugh's hearing using the device he calls "a miracle."
The top-rated host opened his Tuesday afternoon program by telling his audience: "I got to do something today that I have always wanted to do and have never done before. I was permitted to watch surgery. (…) It was the most amazing thing. You know, I have a cochlear implant, and so I was curious to see it."
Limbaugh explained that when he received his device 13 years ago, he was told that he didn't need to get implants in both ears and that that might be the worst thing he could do.
He was told that "if there is a cure for what happened to you, you need to have one ear untouched and available to apply the cure."
After that he would ask: "How long is the cure gonna be?"
They said, "We're hoping 10 years."
"Well," Limbaugh said, "10 years came and went and there was no cure."
Tired of waiting, Limbaugh is taking time off from his show to get a cochlear implant on his right side.
He also explained that his hearing has "actually deteriorated in the 13 years, not improved," because it is still impossible for even the most advanced cochlear implant to "replace the sensitivity" of the human ear.
Also, if he sets his existing device at full volume, he develops a facial tic. Limbaugh hopes that the second implant will "be a vast, vast improvement" over his current condition.
Limbaugh took a call from the mother of a little girl who lost her hearing at about the same time he did and who now has two implants.
"It was one of the best decisions we ever made," she told Limbaugh.
"Well, I gotta tell you, [this surgery] is miraculous," he replied. "[W]hen I lost my hearing, it happened to coincide with human technology advancing to the point that the cochlear implant existed.
"If I had lost my hearing five years earlier, I would have had to quit my job. I would have lost my career," he said.
"I've always been kind of in awe of that reality."