Rush Limbaugh did a brave thing today. I have never agreed with his politics. And because of that it's frustrating (read bamboo shoots under finger nails kind of frustrating) for me to listen to his radio show. So brave is not the first word I would have used to describe Rush yesterday. But I read his show this morning and couldn't think of another way to describe it. Rush Limbaugh has gone deaf. He has no hearing in his left ear and almost none in his right. Within a few months he will probably be 100% deaf, as he puts it (that's an inappropriate term, because it has to do with frequencies and not percentages, but you get the idea). I really do hope now that he continues his radio show. They are trying to work out the logistics of how he can continue to take phone calls during the show and how the show format may need to change. But over four months his life has probably taken a hard turn. I'm impressed with his spirit.
I went to college with a guy who was deaf. He was the first and only deaf student at Virginia Tech at the time (I think that's still true but not sure). He lost his hearing at age 16 over two weeks from a severe ear infection. He joked that he was most pissed because he had just saved up all this money to buy a new stereo and ended up giving it to his brother. I really enjoyed talking to him and learning from him. It really opened my eyes to other worlds. He knew the weird way to pronounce Cowgill Hall (like koe-gill) by reading people's lips. The University had to hire two interpreters to accompany him to all of his classes (he was an architecture major). He helped form a new elective class about the deaf community and spent spare time teaching people ASL (which is an intriguing and dynamic language and fascinates me a lot). He is a great guy and I'm sad I didn't keep in touch with him after leaving school and that our paths did not cross more.
It's somewhat inspiring. I was a Communications major at Tech (that's another long story about how I hated engineering). So the idea of how people interact has always been dear to my heart. The hearing impaired really do have a community of their own. You can argue either way about inclusion versus deaf schooling. But I feel very strongly that the deaf community is a valid one.
How would your life be different if you couldn't talk on the phone? What would you do if you couldn't hear the fire alarm? Would you still feel safe to drive? (It's legal to drive if you are deaf or hearing-impaired, but I think they note it on your license.) How would you meet people? What would those "Last Chance drinking nights" or "after meeting dinners" be like if you didn't know what so and so was saying next to you? Would it affect your personality? Would you miss out on something if you didn't know how the latest pop culture tune sounded but could only read the lyrics? What sound would you miss the most? Would you still have the same friends? How would Christmas dinner be different? Who would be the first to learn ASL to talk to you? I didn't get to hear Rush's show today but read it on the web. I wonder how it would have sounded if I could have heard it.