Mark Doyle's hearing loss journey
Mark Doyle – the 53-year-old DJ behind world-famous record label Hedkandi – put off getting his hearing checked for years. But he’s now sharing his hearing loss story to thousands of online followers through a series of self-made videos. He hopes the social media posts will raise awareness of the importance of acting on signs of hearing loss early, while dispelling any fears about what a hearing test involves.
“My hearing is probably the most important thing that I have and yet I've ignored it and abused it for years. Now, after over 35 years of potential damage, I've had to admit I have a problem and do something about it,” Mark explains.
“My hearing is probably the most important thing that I have”
“It’s all very well me telling people to have a hearing test but I wanted to film it to show that it’s not this horrendous, clinical thing where you have things shoved up you. It’s not an overly invasive process, much more of a social interaction. I was nervous beforehand but I actually found it really interesting and quite fun!”
DJing and hearing damage
Mark has been working in clubs as a DJ since he was 19 and first started to notice he had tinnitus in his 30s and 40s – a condition that got really bad from 45 onwards – but he didn’t seek professional help until his early 50s.
“I procrastinated and didn’t want to admit I had a problem. Any loss I was suffering was ‘solved’ by turning up the TV or music, or just repeatedly saying ‘pardon’ and asking people to speak up,” Mark explains.
“It affected my life, my work, and my general mental health. It also affected how I interacted with people, including close friends and family.”
Mark’s struggles with hearing loss in business meetings
With video calls, phone conversations and meetings with multiple speakers, dealing with hearing loss in the workplace can be highly challenging. Mark says, “When I returned to Hedkandi in 2020, I was suddenly sitting in much more formal meetings with people like Ministry of Sound,” Mark says. “I’d be sitting in an office with a room full of people and I couldn’t hear a word they were saying. It was very frustrating and it started a cycle in which I became very insular, not wanting to go to a meeting or pick up a phone.
“I was in meetings with Ministry of Sound and couldn’t hear a word that was said”
“People described me as aloof, self-absorbed or just rude. In truth, I probably hadn’t heard half of what they had said. I have business contacts that pulled me up on things I had been told or agreed to, when in fact I’d just bluffed my way through a conversation and missed some very important points.”
Unexpected hearing test results
Despite a lifetime of prolonged exposure to loud music, Mark admits that his hearing test results still threw up some surprises. “During my hearing test it became clear that I was missing certain frequencies and therefore certain words when people were talking.”
“What I didn’t expect was that even the basic tests highlighted my issues. My wife had to read out 20 words from a list, I wasn’t allowed to look at her and had to repeat them. Out of the 20 words, I got six correct. We repeated the test. This time I was able to try hearing aids and I got 19 of them right.”
“Hearing aids have totally changed my life”
Mark is now getting used to wearing hearing aids and says the benefits have been significant. “I think I’m not overstating it when I say in the few months I’ve had these hearing aids, they’ve totally changed my life. I’m feeling less anxious and far happier in general, which is always going to have positive benefits in my business, which relies on creativity. In terms of meetings, the impact my hearing loss had on these has now vanished. And I notice my tinnitus much less during the day now, too.”
Mark is urging people to try our free 5-minute online hearing test as a first step and then to go and speak to someone if that indicates a potential problem.
“For me, that process of going to sit with someone and talk about it was such a relief. Find out if you have a problem and why – you might not have permanent damage, it might just be a build-up of ear wax or because you’ve been ill and your ears are affected. Take the time out of your day and go and do it.”
Book your free hearing test today
Our hearing tests are completely free and last about an hour and, like Mark, you’ll get in-depth results about how well you can hear sounds at different volumes and frequencies. You can watch Mark’s hearing loss journey on YouTube, or follow this link to find out exactly what happens at hearing test.
Remember to bring a friend or loved one with you. Testing your hearing against a familiar voice will help give us a better understanding of how well you can hear.