How many people can say they’ve walked the diameter of the Earth? Probably very few. Rick Traut from Erie, PA is someone who can say he’s done it...three times! How? Rick spent approximately 30 years as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service walking and being an integral part of his community. “I loved being out in the public and talking to people. I couldn’t have asked for a better career.” For Rick, family means the world to him. He’s been married to his wife Jenny for almost 40 years and has a son and two daughters. One of his daughters has two young twin daughters who call him “Pop Pop.” As idyllic a life that Rick describes, there is one part that was keeping things from being even more perfect - his hearing.
Your friendly neighborhood mailman. A key part of many a small town.
At the age of 52 and for the next 10 years, Rick noticed he wasn’t hearing and understanding what people were saying to him. All those years hunting and shooting rifles with his grandfather had finally caught up to him. As Rick describes it, the signs were there for a long time. “When I was around Jenny, I was constantly asking her to repeat herself and saying ‘what?.’ I knew this was frustrating to her and others at times. While driving in the car, I had to make sure the radio was turned off and I would lean towards the person to have a conversation.”
Watching TV with Rick was an adventure as well. He would turn the volume to 25 which was “unacceptable” to everyone around him. (By the way, remember that TV volume number for later.) The most troubling was the challenges he faced understanding his granddaughters. “I had to tell them that Pop Pop couldn’t hear very well so they had to speak up and slow down. Thankfully they’re little kids so they understood.”
About 4 years ago, Rick finally decided to do something about his hearing. He went to see a local audiologist who confirmed he had a hearing loss. As Rick put it, “I was put in a small sound-proof booth, told to raise my hand when I heard beeps, and overall it just wasn’t comfortable.” The part of the visit caught him off-guard. “The audiologist recommended a pair of over-the-ear hearing aids and said they would cost $8,000. My first reaction was I’m too vain to wear that style and secondly, I’m not going to spend that much money.” And a few of his friends who wore traditional hearing aids weren't happy with them.
So, Rick spent the next four years looking for a better solution. An Eargo ad caught his eye while on one of his favorite websites. The ease of use, the invisible fitting style, and cost caught his attention. He thought this just might work for me and called Eargo. Rick spoke with Kyle, one of Eargo’s Personal Hearing Guides. Rick was impressed with Kyle’s knowledge and compassion. Since he was completely comfortable with this first call, Rick said to himself, “What do I have to lose?” and he placed his order. A few days later, life changed so much for the better when his Eargos arrived.
When he first put them in his ears, he was blown away at how much clearer everything was for him. Remember the TV volume mentioned earlier? It went from 25 to 12 which is the level Jenny prefers. As Rick put it, “Jenny was stunned! She was whispering to me and I could hear her!” He also can hear and understand his granddaughters considerably better than before. He actually loves showing off his Eargos to family and close friends because nobody can tell he’s even wearing them. “I’ve had people look straight at my ears and can barely see the removal thread because the fit is so good. I can put my Eargos in when I get out of bed and they run 16 hours which is a whole day for me.”
As much as Rick loves hearing and enjoying life so much better, he made a point to tell me how important Eargo’s employees were to his decision to speak with me about this story. Rick puts it like this, “Everyone at Eargo wants me to be successful. From Kyle to my audiologist, Dr. Wickey, the entire Eargo team has been there for me the entire time. And in today’s world, that personal relationship is missing with many businesses. All I can say is thank you.”
That about sums it up best.