While at a local indoor gun range, Butler caught his glasses on the hearing protection. Just as he lifted the hearing protection to fix his glasses, someone fired a large rifle about 30 inches from his ear.
“I experienced short-term pain and ringing in my left ear for the next 30 minutes,” he says.
When his hearing continued to be muffled and he couldn’t understand normal conversation, Butler scheduled an appointment with an ear, nose, throat (ENT) doctor.
After running tests, the ENT confirmed that, at the age of 74, Butler had hearing loss in both ears. The doctor then recommended a hearing care provider who specialized in fitting hearing aids.
Before his hearing loss, Butler already knew the importance of clear sound and communication.
“One of my hobbies since 1954 has been as an avid audiophile — I have a great interest in high-fidelity sound reproduction,” Butler says. “Plus, I have spent almost 60 years in the discipline of telephony.”
Telephony is a technology which allows voice and/or interactive communication between two points through the usage of appropriate equipment. Analog sound signals are translated into electrical signals after a communication request is initiated. These electrical signals are converted back to analog sound signals once received at the destination.
Butler was first fit with a “top of the line” digital hearing aid. While he could change the hearing profile as needed with push of buttons, he felt that the devices amplified lots of background noise, like rattling of paper or squeaky doors, but he couldn’t hear his wife. After several return trips and adjustments, he was fit with another hearing aid.
“Noreen, my wife, said I needed the very best hearing aid available,” Butler says, jokingly. “The cost didn’t matter … as long as I could hear her!”
This device, however, didn’t accomplish his goals of hearing conversations.
“At restaurants, I had to always request a table that permitted me to have my back against the wall,” he says. “While it improved the level of background noise, it was an inconvenience at times and not fully effective.”
Another concern he had was that his lifestyle had to change to protect the hearing devices.
“I accidentally stepped into the shower multiple times, discovering the hearing aids were still in my ears,” he says. “I had to pull them out immediately so they didn’t get wet. Plus, the super amplification of the water was uncomfortable.”
But after multiple visits with different devices that didn’t provide reasonable sound, Butler says he became very discouraged.
“I was fully aware these devices couldn’t restore my hearing to that of a 25-year-old, but I did expect to have a normal conversation with Noreen.”
Then, Butler saw an ad for Phonak Lyric hearing aids, but although having high hopes that Lyric hearing aids could work for him, there wasn’t a hearing care provider close enough to him.
“I had almost given up on Lyric until Noreen read an announcement in our local paper that Lyric had come to Oklahoma,” he said. “I called for an appointment that day.”
As soon as Butler was fit with Lyric hearing aids, he heard the difference.
“On my way home from the hearing care provider’s office, I listened to a CD,” he says. “I was amazed at how good the music sounded and realized that the other hearing aids were unable to reproduce musical sounds that were natural.”
When he arrived home and began a conversation with his wife, he immediately recognized the natural sound of her voice.
Butler says he continues to see the benefits of Lyric. He doesn’t have to worry about showering with the Lyric hearing aids. Plus, they eliminate the background noise from being too pronounced.
“Noreen and I strongly agree that good hearing and vision are essential to the quality of life and the best solution should be sought,” he says.
And the best part, he says?
Noreen can whisper “sweet nothings” in his ear, and he can hear her.