We caught up with Irish rugby legend Tony Ward following Ireland's Grand-Slam victory earlier this month. Tony suffers from 70% hearing loss and experiences difficulty hearing in both ears. Tony wishes that he had taken preventative action against his hearing loss sooner and is working hard to protect against any further decline in his hearing. Tony is a patient of our Merrion Road clinic and has developed a great relationship with his audiologist Enda Dooley, who recently fitted Tony with Oticon's latest mini RITE hearing aid, the Real. We talk to Tony about all things hearing related below.
How have hearing aids improved your daily life?
Enormously! If I did not have my hearing aids, I would absolutely have no quality of life at all. When I take them out of my ears, it just goes silent. I’m on a different planet entirely without them so they are absolutely essential on a day-to-day basis.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Oh, if only we knew then what we know now. And I did know. I was reluctant - being a typical man, to not give in to any possible weakness. I didn’t want to realise that I had a problem developing. I had an issue but I wasn’t prepared to do anything about it. I would put all that pride to the side now and run in the door to Hidden Hearing as quickly as I possibly could to change the outcome. I wish I had done that back then, but I was silly.
What sounds connect you to the world around you?
To wake up in the morning, slip in my aids and instantly pick up on the sound of the door handle, the light switch, the hangers in the wardrobe, is almost heavenly. Life is as it once was but without my Oticon aids, I know it can never be like that again. I'm also a divil for musical nostalgia, and the clarity of my aids when combined with noise cancelling headphones makes the sounds from my teenage years come roaring back on my mandatory daily walk.
How important is your relationship with your expert audiologist?
I’m very lucky in Merrion where I have Enda Dooley and we’ve built up a very good friendship over the years. I look forward to visiting the clinic for whatever reason. I’m sure Enda runs a mile at this stage, but I think it’s very important that you can build up a relationship because that creates trust. Anything that Enda says to me, I will immediately put into effect.
How do you find the technology in your hearing aids?
The technology is simple to use – even for me at this stage of life. I have no problem there whatsoever. The technology is also improving all of the time so it’s just a matter of getting used to it each time that there is a change. So far, thankfully, it’s all good.
You can learn more about Tony and his life in his recent feature with The Irish Examiner.