Beck: Good Morning Mr. Ferrigno. Thanks for joining me today, it's an honor to meet you.
Ferrigno: Hi Dr. Beck. Nice to meet you too.
Beck: I am obviously doing something wrong in my daily workout routine!
Ferrigno: No, you're doing fine - for an audiologist! I work out pretty aggressively, and I have great genetics too!
Beck: Thanks - I think. Lou, you are among the most famous bodybuilders in the world, yet many of your fans don't know that you have a very significant hearing loss. If you don't mind I'd like to speak with you about that today?
Ferrigno: Sure. That's why I'm here.
Beck: Can we start with your hearing history?
Ferrigno: Yes. I believe I had fairly bad ear infections very soon after birth, and at that time I lost some 75 or 80 percent of my hearing. We're not quite clear on what happened in those early days.
Beck: How long have you worn hearing aids?
Ferrigno: I've worn hearing aids since I was 5 years old, and I'm 51 years old now, so it's 46 years with amplification, and I wear two Starkey hearing aids.
Beck: Do you wear hearing aids when you're working out?
Ferrigno: Yes, I wear them all the time, working out, relaxing, and on and off the set. In fact, when I work out I wear two in-the-ear hearing aids for comfort, and then I wear the behind-the-ears for my day-to-day non-physical activities, when I need maximum hearing and to communicate with people and do interviews!
Beck: Are your behind-the-ear hearing aids digital?
Ferrigno: No, that's one of my dreams. But they don't make digital hearing aids powerful enough for me yet. I think they come in a full range now for mild, moderate, severe and even some profound hearing losses, but for profound hearing losses like mine, they just don't have enough power yet.
Beck: Has your hearing loss caused difficulty in you career? Has it held you back at all?
Ferrigno: No, I wouldn't say it's held me back. I think that if I wasn't hard of hearing I wouldn't be where I am now! Early on, as a youngster it was difficult, but I'm not ashamed to talk about it because many people have misconceptions about hearing loss; like who has hearing loss and what it's like not to hear, so I do talk about it. But reflecting back on your question, I think my hearing loss helped create a determination within me to be all that I can be, and gave me a certain strength of character too. Anytime I do a movie or a TV show, I make them aware of my hearing loss at the beginning, and that makes it much easier for all of us to communicate and get the job done.
Beck: I agree. That's one of the most important management strategies for people with hearing loss. It's important to take responsibility for communicating with those around you, and by revealing your hearing loss to them, it makes it easier to converse. Of course, many people have a difficult time doing that because they're embarrassed, or they don't want to impose on others. You and I are in a quiet office here in Minneapolis at Starkey's headquarters, and you're doing very well in one-on-one conversational speech. How do you do in more challenging situations? For example, please tell me about hearing in noisy backgrounds?
Ferrigno: Background noise is the biggest problem with hearing aids. Even with fantastic hearing aids, it is difficult to understand speech when there is an abundance of background noise. But you know, background noise varies too, and a little might be OK, but when it's really loud, it's very difficult.
Beck: What about telephones? How do you do on the phone?
Ferrigno: I do very well with telephones. I use the T-switch on the hearing aids and that really works very well. I get a clear sound without any background noise. I can use a cell phone too, but I need to get the special plug-in attachment.
Beck: Do you get involved in hearing loss support programs?
Ferrigno: Not yet, but I hope to soon. Another goal of mine is to eventually work as a spokesperson for a telethon or a charity raising money for hearing research, or raising money to provide hearing aids to needy children. That's why I'm excited about this weekend at the Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala. They're brining in lots of Hollywood celebrities and that's going to raise a lot of money for the Foundation.
Beck: Lou, I saw your new book outside. I want to mention that even though I only got to read 15 or 20 pages, it was amazing. Can you tell me a little about that?
Ferrigno: Sure, it's brand new and it is self-published. It's called My Incredible Life as The Hulk.
Beck: Did you write it, or was there a ghost writer involved?
Ferrigno: I wrote it.
Beck: How can fans get a copy?
Ferrigno: It's only available at www.louferrigno.com.
Beck: Thanks Lou. It had been a pleasure working with you, and by the way, I liked the TV show much better than the 2003 movie!
Ferrigno: Thanks, me too!