“I believe hearing loss puts a strain on your brain and I believe not doing something about it wore mine down to some degree.”
- James on his realization during his hearing loss journey
From his early childhood, James Muller wanted to know how everything worked and he loved taking things apart. He thought he wanted to be a physician. His father assured him he was a born engineer and encouraged him to pursue an engineering career. He applied to Georgia Tech although he had never been in the state of Georgia. He was accepted and attended the 5-year co-op program in mechanical engineering. It was challenging and hard work, but he knew it was right for him. Georgia Tech was the best education he could have hoped for. The old adage “Father knows best” proved true.
James signed up for the advanced Army ROTC program at Georgia Tech and elected to go into the Ordinance Corps branch. The Ordinance branch cadets receive the same combat training as the combat branches but are specialized. Ordinance officers work in equipment maintenance of weapons and vehicles, a good fit for an engineer. Cadet Muller received 8 weeks of basic training at Ft Bragg, NC and Officer Branch training at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD.
James serving in the Army’s Ordinance Corps in Vietnam
Second Lieutenant James Muller was assigned to the Armor Board, Test and Evaluation Command, Ft Knox, KY. He was assigned as test officer of the M656. He loved it; the vehicle was so interesting, and he got to drive it on cross country testing and swimming in the Ohio river.
First Lieutenant James Muller was assigned to Support Command, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. After several months of staff duty, he was further assigned to 25th Light Maintenance Company direct support as platoon leader. James did not pursue a career in the Army although he was glad that he had the opportunity to serve. In the Vietnam era there were a lot of ROTC reserve officers. He returned to a career as engineer, project leader and manager in the private sector where he wrote over 25 papers in his field of mechanical engineering. According to James, “I’m not boasting, but I’ve been referred to as an ‘engineer’s engineer.’
For years James’ wife, Nancy, made comments about his inability to hear clearly. The TV volume had gradually crept higher and higher over the years, and as James puts it, “I could hear people talking to me but just couldn’t understand what they were saying. It was frustrating.” In addition, James talked about another impact his hearing had on him. “I believe hearing loss puts a strain on your brain and I believe not doing something about it wore mine down to some degree.”
Surprisingly, James delayed doing anything about his hearing for about 20 years. Why? There are two main reasons. First, he was familiar with hearing aids from watching his father use them. The hassle of changing and buying batteries, wearing the over-the-ear style interfered with his glasses, and the repeated trips to the audiologist left a negative impression on him. It was his father’s experience that led to reason number two. Being the engineer, James had the perfect hearing aid design in his head but couldn’t find it. He was looking for the following hearing aid characteristics:
For years he could not find what he was looking for until he saw advertisements for Eargo. When James looked into Eargo further he said, “On the surface, it seemed like the perfect model with great design.” He spoke with an Eargo team member who confirmed he would be a great candidate to benefit from the Eargo Neo HiFi, and then placed his order and was given his 20% military discount.
When James first received his Eargos, the hearing improvement was immediate. Nancy noticed the TV volume came down to a comfortable level and most importantly James could now understand conversations and not just hear them. Going out to dinner or listening in noisy settings was no longer the chore it used to be. There was one slight problem that needed to be solved. James knew he had small ear canals when he placed his order and sure enough, the Eargos fit tightly to the point he could only wear them a few hours at a time. Since Eargo never stops designing and engineering all aspects of our product and customer experience, our client care team sent him a set of new small Flexi Palms specially designed for people with narrow ear canals. Upon receiving them James told me, “That was the ticket! I’m going to order extra ones right away because I’m going to wear the heck out of these things!” Now that’s what an audiologist wants to hear!
When an “engineer’s engineer” like James pays compliments to Eargo’s design, ease of use and hearing improvement, it can bring a whole different level of satisfaction to what you do. Now it’s our turn to say ‘thanks’ to James and all our military veterans on this Memorial Day. We are forever grateful to your service!