“I was finally able to get out with my friends and they noticed a difference with my hearing right away. Basically, everything has been wonderful!”

Rhonda, on her improved hearing

Back in the 1970s, our armed forces were male-dominated in so many ways. There weren’t many female “firsts’ happening at the time, but a young Rhonda Hartwig from Dunkirk, NY was given the opportunity to make her mark when she enlisted in the Air Force in 1976. Rhonda became one of 100 women who were part of a pilot program within the Security Police Law Enforcement or SPLE. The training for this pilot was intense and challenging both physically and mentally. As Rhonda tells it, “We trained as if we were preparing for war. We learned ground defense, rode in tanks, trained in hand-to-hand combat, crawled for hours in the dirt, and so much more. Not many women made it through, but I did. I like to think I was cut out for this.” In addition to the SPLE, Rhonda also worked on the flight line around jets. Almost 4 years later, Rhonda was honorably discharged after suffering an injury that ultimately left her unable to perform her duties.

Rhonda’s Hearing Challenges

Now living in the Fort Myers, FL area, Rhonda believes that a combination of firearms training and working the flight lines contributed greatly to her hearing loss. Rhonda noticed that when going out to eat or in a situation where background noise was present, she would ask people to repeat themselves. When people would talk to her from another room, it was virtually impossible for her to understand the conversation. Because her hearing problems were more pronounced in her left ear, she always had to make sure people were sitting on her right side to have a better chance of understanding them. Watching TV meant she had to frequently pause the show and rewind a scene when she didn’t understand something. Thank goodness for DVRs! One of Rhonda’s favorite activities was window shopping with her friends. Rhonda said, “When we would all be out walking around, my friends would get frustrated with me because I would miss so much of the conversation.”

Rhonda today, in Fort Myers

Why the Wait?

 It’s a well-known statistic that people wait an average of 7-10 years from when they first notice hearing problems until they make the decision to get help. There are many reasons for this. In Rhonda’s case, it took over 35 years before she finally purchased Eargos as her first set of hearing aids. I had to ask, “Why the wait?” Rhonda’s explanation had a few layers to it. First, people were tolerant to repeat themselves and she could turn up the TV volume and use her DVR. Secondly, she made a personal choice not to work through the VA system to receive her hearing aids given what they offered. Lastly, watching her mother deal with her traditional hearing aids made her quite leery about working with a local hearing professional. She didn’t want the hassle of replacing and buying batteries and wearing a hearing aid over the ear. So, she waited and waited. That’s when her family stepped in to help.

The Eargo Journey

One day her son-in-law noticed information about Eargo and reached out to learn more. He ordered the sample kit which is a brochure containing information about Eargo hearing aids and two replica non-working devices. When Rhonda saw the sample kit and looked at the size of the device, how discreetly it fit in her ear, the rechargeable feature, and the Veteran’s discount, she told her family, “I think I could wear this.” After following up with her Eargo Personal Hearing Guide and asking more questions, Rhonda felt comfortable enough to order her Eargos and prepare to hear better.

When Rhonda’s Eargos arrived, the results were immediate. In Rhonda’s words, “They were so easy to use right out of the box. They came charged with helpful instructions so I could begin hearing again right away. Understanding people talk in background noise is so much easier and not bothersome. I could hear my daughter from another room talking and we’re not getting annoyed with each other! With the COVID situation, I was finally able to get out with my friends and they noticed a difference with my hearing right away. Basically, everything has been wonderful!”

I asked Rhonda if she had any advice to people looking to try hearing aids for the first time, especially given her 35 year wait to wear hearing aids for the first time. Her response, “When you notice the signs, do something about it right away. There is simply no reason to wait, so don’t make the same mistake I did and put it off. If Eargo was available 30 years ago, I would have done it then.”

From the entire Eargo family, we thank Rhonda for her service to the USA and for being a torchbearer for women in the armed forces. We salute you and all those who have served and continue to serve this great country!

Author

Steve is Eargo’s Head of Sales Operations. With over 25 years experience as an audiologist, Steve has helped countless patients over the years.

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