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'Discomfort' Charlie Bird says Motor Neuron Disease diagnosis is 'hard to cope with'

The former RTÉ journalist revealed today that he had been diagnosed with the condition after experiencing “issues with his voice” for weeks

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Retired RTE Journalist Charlie Bird. Photo by: Tom Burke

Retired RTE Journalist Charlie Bird. Photo by: Tom Burke

Retired RTE Journalist Charlie Bird. Photo by: Tom Burke

Charlie Bird has recalled the moment he knew he had health issues following his Motor Neuron Disease diagnosis.

The former RTÉ journalist revealed today that he had been diagnosed with the condition after experiencing “issues with his voice” for weeks.

Speaking to Joe Duffy on Liveline this afternoon, the 72-year-old said he first noticed a problem while he was out for a walk with his wife and their dog Tiger.

“I’ll never forget the first issue I had with my voice. I was walking in the mountains with my wife Claire and my beautiful dog,” he explained.

“We were eating a sandwich in a really remote place in Wicklow and I had a coughing fit. It really floored me.

“Since then, things have been coming and going with my voice. I knew there was something strange.

“In some instances, [Motor Neuron Disease is] difficult to diagnose but in my heart, I knew there was something serious there.”

Charlie said that he has been struggling to come to terms with his diagnosis but is “dealing with it” as best he can.

“In a way, I’ve been preparing myself for the news that I got a couple of days ago for months and I’ve been dealing with it. Sometimes it’s not easy to deal with but you have to get on with life.

“It’s hard to cope with but I’m dealing with it like everything else. You have to face reality.

“So many people get this. I am not the only person. Every day people get knocked and that’s why I feel like I just have to confront it.”

The veteran broadcaster admitted that he has “a lot of discomfort” at the moment, especially with his voice and sleeping.

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“I have a lot of discomfort. First of all, my voice – I tweeted this maybe 3 or 4 weeks ago. I feel I’m struggling with my voice.

“I have trouble eating but at the moment it’s good news. I’ve been told by my consultant that I can still drive, I go walking every day. I’m still trying to fit in 10 miles every day.

“I’m trying to be active... But I know at some stage that things are going to disimprove.”

Charlie said that while life will be “difficult” for him going forward, he’s “fortunate” to have the support of his friends, family, and colleagues.

“I have remarkable friends. The RTÉ family to me has been remarkable. My close friends who worked in RTÉ with me have been amazing over the last couple of months and they’ve known behind the scenes the journey I’ve been on. They’ve kept me going.

“They are all there with me and for me. It’s amazing. It gets me through it.”

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