The Gospel Truth

The Silence of Sounds | December 5, 2012

Besides being a conservative, who senses the country of his youth and even most of his adult years, is gradually slipping away I have a lot in common with radio’s El Rushbo, Rush Limbaugh.

One of our most important similarities is our significant loss of hearing.

In a recent broadcast, Rush spoke from the heart about how devastating hearing loss can be to the quality of one’s life.

Spoke to me

While Rush has said many things on the air that border on the profound, his inside information about experiencing a near complete loss of hearing truly resonated with me.

I felt that he was speaking directly to me.

I felt he understood how frustrating in can be to be out of sound with most of the human race.

He said being deaf is the only affliction that will make people mad at you.

When you ask someone to repeat what they have said they often get frustrated and can’t seem to understand why someone who looks very health can’t hang on every symbol they utter.

Subliminally many must think that you were just not listening well enough to get the wisdom of their words.

They would never blame a blind man for not seeing.

This is something that all of us with signficant hearing loss must come to grips with.

My road to understanding has been a long and arduous one.

It all started at a parish dinner about 20 years ago.

I tell jokes!.

Before the meal was served a friend named Geoffrey was holding court and I thought I heard him say, I tell jokes.

Well, I literally laughed out loud…because as smart and as well-educated my fellow Ph.D. is, humor is not his forte.

What he had actually said was something about Father Issac Joques, the French Jesuit who was martyred in the 17th century while working with the Huron Indians in Canada.

And there was nothing funny about that!

This was not the first time that I had heard something funny that was really just something else.

The sad truth was that my hearing was diminishing and I was the last one to notice it.

I used to joke that my sense of humor was just based on bad hearing.

That is more true than it is funny.

After years of resisting my wife’s concerns, I went to the Central Institute for the Deaf.

Their hearing tests are very scary

As I sat in my isolation booth, my therapist would beep all sorts of sounds and then read a long list of unrelated words that I had to repeat.

Attempting to predict or even guess when the sounds occurred was very stressful to me.

After a while, I just didn’t give a beep!

I hate tests I can’t study for.

I even study for blood tests avoiding things that may elevate my blood sugar or my PSA.

I study for them

But this was hard.

The more times I have taken their test, the worse my scores were.

My chart looked like the stock market in March of 2009 or maybe January of next year.

To rule out tumors, I have now had three MRIs of my brain–they found nothing!

I saw an ear specialist, who told me that sometime in my life my right ear had suffered a trauma of some sort.

I told him that it was my wife’s ear because when we drive she is always on my right.

The actual words he used were that my right ear had suffered an insult to it.

I quipped that well I did talk radio for over 28 years and people usually insulted me in BOTH of my ears.

Insulted both ears

I did have a lot of ear infections when I was young.

My dad called a fellow physician to lance my ear in my own bed when I was about seven.

In 1979 I can remember some moron yelling in my ear at a Phillies game.

Then there was a Melissa Manchester concert at the Fox Theater many years ago.

We had seats dangerously close to what looked like 75’ speakers.

But other than that I don’t know what happened to my hearing.

I have had about three hearing aids.

I had a lot of trouble with the first two–I have a great deal of earwax–I know–you don’t need to know that but, the wax got wedged into the hearing aids constantly.

Killed hearing aids

Like linoleum, my aids suffered from wax build-up.

You don’t know what it feels like to experience a tiny piece of technology being asphyxiated by a wax invasion.

The one that I have now is silver, sleek, and fits over my left ear.

It looks like a phone.

They can’t do anything for the wife’s ear.

When I am not wearing my aid, I literally have to get in someone’s face to hear them or twist my head or sometimes even my entire body around to continue a conversation.

I have to make doubly sure my breath doesn’t offend!

Last year I was at an awards ceremony for our local theater people.

Our daughter had been nominated for another Kevin Kline Award.

Well one of her fellow actresses happened to sit next to me.

She was a very energetic and effervescent young woman who liked to yell and scream when one of her friends got a name mention.

I knew her all of five minutes and she was telling me how she had just done her first “nude” scene in a play—Bug.

I had seen the movie–one of Ashley Judd’s weirdest performances with the notoriously angry actor, Michael Shannon.

Too much detail

After I explained my hearing difficulty to her, she tried very hard to accommodate me with my problem.

Judy’s ear as I call it was quite a difficulty for us since she was on my immediate right.

For me to hear her in the darkened theater, we had to perform this awkward ballet of head movements while seated–she would move to her right as I would turn my head to the right, so she could whisper in my left ear.

In the course of one such movement, her nose brushed ever so lightly against the lens of my glasses.

I then learned what it felt to look at the world through a nose print.

It is the high pitches of women and children that give me the most difficulty.

The worst part of it is the tinnitus.

They told me at CID that I had Titanic Hearing Loss.  (I made that up).

I didn’t know what that was years ago but it’s the constant noise in both ears that comes from nerve damage to the ear.

I have it in both ears.

It is not actually a ringing—a phone that no one will answer.

It is more like static that has nothing to do with frequency domain signals–or what ever that means.

It is a form of white noise and it can be very annoying.

This white noise creates a silence that literally drowns out my ability to hear anything that sounds intelligible.

White noise on the right

This results in my I now call the eerie silence of sounds.

Oh they are out there but I don’t understand what they mean.

Sometimes a person who can’t hear is considered to be retarded or dumb.

I have to admit that I often have a blank look on my face when I don’t understand what someone has said.

I happened to trip over a very fat female comedian the other night who loves to ridicule all the vast number of minorities in America.

Her name is Lisa Lampenelli and she had something to do with Donald Trump.

I think he fired her.

Maybe she made fun of his hair.

She likes to be called the Queen of Mean.

Queen of Mean

She said that to raise her ratings she wanted someone to protest her foul and nasty humor.

She was shocked that it was a deaf group that protested something she had said.

Deaf people are nothing but a bunch of retards, she said.

I doubt that I will ever be totally deaf but the very fact that one of my natural functions is in a serious decline–not unlike our country— does give me pause for reflection if not concern, just as Milton’s failing eyesight did a few hundred years ago.

Of all the afflictions a person could have, in all honesty, this is one of the easiest and for me a very light and small cross for me to carry.

Just as the poet John Milton lamented about his lost vision in his Sonnet #XIX: When I consider how my light is spent, I am considering how my sound has been spent.



  1. Hearing loss is frustrating and hard on the victim and
    hard on their spouse. Some hearing aids seem to be
    better than others. At the same time be thankful if you
    have good eyesight – it is even more frightening to
    loose the ability to read, drive, care for onself due to
    loss of vision.


    Comment by MFritz — December 6, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  2. BB, My expensive hearing aids are in a drawer. I now,casting all pride aside, say, I am quite deaf and would appreciate your raising the volume of your voice so I can hear and understand. Beats wearing those darn uncomfortable things. They do as I ask for a few minutes and then lapse back into that low tone. Sigh.

    Comment by Mary B. Lachney — December 7, 2012 @ 3:36 am

    • Mary:

      While I still have some hearing in my left ear, my aid does amplify enough to make it worthwhile. I am going to the Audiologist next week to be fitted for a “state-of-the art aid that has a wireless receiver for my dead ear—Judy’s ear—that transmits sound to the new hearing aid. This should eliminate my having to shift my whole body—think nose prints—to the right to accommodate any speaker on that side.


      Comment by bbprof — December 7, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

  3. I have taken the liberty of copying a personal e-mail I got from an old friend about his brother, who has suffered greatly with his hearing loss. I include these words in an effort to inspire others who fail to see the humor in this affliction to look at it in a new light.

    Please pass the whole post on to anyone who might also benefit. Bb

    Apparently, in the sharing of e mails, my brother…became added to your list–all’s good. When each of us received your recent e mail (below), I had not opened it and he wrote me–very briefly, I might add, about your hearing loss. Well, I had no awareness of what he was speaking of, so just now I read the heart-baring message from you about your hearing loss. Bless you for baring it in such a light-hearted and humor-filled manner. My brother has a very similar story–and he is extremely sensitive over his condition. As a matter of fact, he is as we speak on the way to an audiologist to select from the latest in hearing aids. He mentioned a device that is blue tooth enabled. Lesley and I have been praying that God’s wisdom would lead him to a device that helps him move forward a bit. I admire your engaging others like me with the use of your amazing brain–on the internet. He is bright and loves to engage similarly–about sports. But he seems fearful over opening up to his list about politics. But as I write this, I am encouraged to write him and suggest he do as you do–a great way to cope and compensate–you and he do not really need hearing to engage others, even if only about sports, with e mailed blogs. So, I thank you for your great blog on hearing. It now leads me in a new direction a la Bill Borst. And I will also encourage him to let you know of his similar hearing loss so he might feel led to write you directly. Blessings to you, my dear friend.

    Comment by bbprof — December 7, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

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About author

After graduating from Holy Cross, Bill Borst earned an MA in Asian History from St. John's University and a Ph.D in American History from St. Louis University. (1972) A former New Yorker, he taught for many years in the St. Louis area, while also hosting a weekly radio show on WGNU from 1984-2006. He currently is a regular substitute for conservative Phyllis Schlafly on KSIV radio. (1320) He is the author of two books on social history, "Liberalism: Fatal Consequences," and "The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy." He just retired as the Features editor of the Mindszenty Foundation Monthly Report. In his 11 years from 2003-2013 he wrote nearly 130 essays on Catholic culture and world affairs. Many in St. Louis also know him as the "Baseball Professor," because of a course that he offered at Maryville College from 1973-74. It was arguably the first fully-accredited baseball history course in the Midwest.The author of several short books on the old St. Louis Browns, he started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society in 1984. In 2009 his first two plays were produced on the local stage. "The Last Memory of an Ol' Brownie Fan," ran six performances at the Sound Stage in Crestwood and "A Perfect Choice" ran for two performances at the Rigali Center Theater in Shrewsberry. His third play, "A Moment of Grace," ran six performances at DeSmet High School in January of 2011with First Run Theater in January of 2011. He is currently working on a 4th play, "A Family Way," which is a comedy about a happy dysfunctional family. He can reached at







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