Limbaugh tells listeners his hearing has returned

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

MIAMI -- Talk show host and Cape Girardeau native Rush Limbaugh told his listeners Monday that an ear implant has partially restored his hearing.

Limbaugh had an electronic device placed in his skull late last year, and the final hookup, which partially restored his hearing, took place Thursday.

"When you've had, in my case, over 50 years of normal hearing and to lose it suddenly, as I did, it's ... a shock," said Limbaugh, who went deaf last year because of an autoimmune inner-ear disease. "You adapt to it, as you have no choice."

Limbaugh, who has 20 million weekly listeners on about 600 radio stations, said his mind played tricks on him at times.

"I was hearing the soundtracks to westerns," Limbaugh said. "It was as loud as can be. It was distracting. I knew I wasn't hearing it because those noises weren't being made."

Limbaugh had continued to do his show as his hearing deteriorated and eventually disappeared, using an elaborate setup at his studio involving transcribers and computer screens to read listeners' calls.

Limbaugh said he is having to relearn how to hear. Voices are fuzzy, like they have been recorded on a minicassette recorder, he said. But in one-on-one conversations, his hearing is about 90 percent normal.

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