The usual mile today…

…but of course the main running focus has been the nailbiting wait to find out what’s happening with the London Marathon rescheduled date. A few media outlets have picked up the story this morning as it seems to have been leaked that the mass race will be re-postponed to the spring and the October date will just feature a few elites running laps of a London park (which would make good TV but won’t really be the London Marathon in my view, so if that’s the plan I hope they call it something different!). Some sources are suggesting that the official announcement will be made this evening, while others are saying it’ll be 7am tomorrow morning.

Either way, I’m finding it very hard to be productive today, because waiting for this announcement is very distracting!

My ears are doing a bit better today. Last night, I tried the drops that came with the pack Geth bought from the chemist a couple of weeks ago, and they felt a lot more effective than the oil, so I’m going to switch to those for a few days. After that, I will have a go with the bulb syringe from the pack (gently!) if my ears haven’t fully cleared from the drops.

I’ll be spending the rest of the day further trying to distract myself. I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.

London Marathon 2019
I will be back on that start line… but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that it’ll be this October.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Rio’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’


I managed two miles for my Wednesday run today…

…which is still not very far, but it’s more than I’ve managed on a Wednesday for weeks, so I’m quite happy about that!

I’m having a really bad time with my ears at the moment. Since I had to have them syringed eighteen months ago, I’ve been using oil once a month to try and keep them unclogged. However, about three weeks ago, they very suddenly became badly blocked (requiring my hearing aids to be cranked up to max volume and even then feeling like I’m underwater), and so I’ve been using oil in both ears daily to try and improve the situation. Some days have been better than others, but on the whole it’s not working and is really starting to make my ears itch.

As such, I called the GP this morning to see if there was any chance that I could come in and have them syringed again. They said that they can’t do that at the moment due to COVID (and have no idea when that will change), so I’m at an impasse, and I’m really miserable with these blocked ears.

Geth bought me a home syringing kit at the chemist the other week, but I decided at the time not to use it because the first three items on the ‘DO NOT USE IF…’ list printed on the back were:

  1. DO NOT USE IF you have a history of ear problems
  2. DO NOT USE IF you are inserting anything else into your ears, such as hearing aids
  3. DO NOT USE IF you have ever had a damaged eardrum

I’m normally a bit devil-may-care with these lists as it’s just medical companies covering themselves, but I know I do have to be careful with my ears as they’re in such a mangled Frankenstein’s monster state after everything that happened to them when I was a kid. However, I’m at my wits’ end, and so I’m tempted to have a go with the kit anyway – after all, it can’t be any more damaging to my ears than having them painfully powerwashed out with saline solution as part of the ear irrigation process at the GP clinic.

Another option I’m considering: Geth’s mum has suggested heating the oil before putting it in my ears as this ‘activates’ it. I’ll probably try that tonight, though I am getting really, really sick of putting oil in my ears now.

Anyway, in non-medical news, I was able to wake up early-ish again today, so I’m hoping to get all my work done in good time today and relax with some videogames this evening. I started playing Beyond A Steel Sky last night – it’s got some tough puzzles and I’m still on the first section, so I expect it will keep me occupied for a week or two.

Two more days until I will know for definite about the London Marathon, which is both nervewracking and exciting!

Paper Mario origami sheets
I need to find some time to make this Paper Mario origami – it looks like a nice relaxing project.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The ‘Sheila’s Wheels’ advert music from the ’00s
Duran Duran – ‘The Reflex’
Michael Jackson – ‘Smooth Criminal’
Duran Duran – ‘Rio’

Navigating face masks when you’re hard of hearing

I’ve been dreading this phase of the pandemic – the phase where everybody tries to get ‘back to normal’, except that everybody is still halfheartedly trying to keep two metres away from everyone else, and everybody is wearing face masks in enclosed spaces like public transport and business premises.

I can absolutely deal with the two metres thing, although I think keeping that distance is absolutely impossible in some of the situations that are now being encouraged again (who’s going to be able to maintain that in a crowded pub full of drunk people? STEERING CLEAR). It’s the mask thing that’s the problem.

As some of you will be aware, I’m hard of hearing, and have been since early childhood. Over the course of my life I have gradually learnt to rely on a combination of hearing aids (which are much more effective than they used to be now that the technology has moved on) and lipreading, which is so subconscious I don’t even realise I’m doing it most of the time. But I do need to do it – something that is made painfully clear whenever I’m struggling with a phone call to someone who doesn’t realise that they need to speak up.

When I’m deprived of my sensory aids for any reason, I enter Hairdresser World. Hairdresser World is named for the situation at the hairdresser when, in order to get my hair cut, I have to remove both my hearing aids and my glasses. My hearing without aids compared to my hearing with them can best be described to a fully-hearing person as like being underwater (i.e. conversation is difficult at best), and without my glasses, lipreading is also hampered. As such, haircuts are a bit of a miserable experience – either I have a chatty hairdresser to whom I can’t respond appropriately, or I have my hair cut in silence while every other customer in the shop chatters away like a normal person! Hairdresser World is not a nice place, and I’m always so glad at the end of the haircut when I can put my hearing aids and glasses back on my head.

So… a world in which we all wear masks, then.

Masks look cool, I have to say. They sort of make everyone look like they’re in an apocalyptic movie. But if we’re all going to be wearing them for the next few months at least, then… the whole world becomes Hairdresser World, for me, in some ways. Because if someone is wearing a mask, I can’t lipread what they’re saying, and so our conversation is going to be hampered.

Enter the transparent mask.

Transparent face masks
Lipreading is not hampered as much when someone is wearing one of these.

Geth bought a couple of these for us this week. Obviously, wearing a transparent mask myself when somebody else is wearing an opaque one is not going to solve the problem, but my aim with this is to promote the wearing of transparent masks and hopefully raise a small amount of awareness.

So far, I’ve only tried out the mask for a few minutes at a time. The transparent section does steam up slightly, but not enough that I can’t see Geth’s mouth when he’s wearing his mask. As such, it’s a relatively workable solution, and one I hope that more people will adopt if mask-wearing is going to become a long-term thing.

Or alternatively, I could just continue to stay at home until all of this blows over. Whenever that may be…

Keeping going

Another morning, another mile…

…because I’ve still got quite a lot to do this week, and also I woke up slightly later than I would have liked. I think that for the next few weeks, long runs will be a weekend thing, with maybe a middling one squeezed in on a Wednesday if possible. This would be a return to my marathon training pattern, which is no bad thing, given that marathon training is currently scheduled to start again in just over a month.

I’m happy to report that I weighed in this morning and lost 4lbs! I’d been struggling a bit for the last few weeks, as I’ve not been getting nearly as much exercise in as I did before the lockdown (when I was marathon training and doing a lot of walking in addition), and yet my marathon training appetite has not gone away. This last week, I’ve been a lot stricter and have reduced my portions. It’s obviously working, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, because I would love to be back at my target weight by the end of lockdown. I’m currently paying a reduced Slimming World fee so as to maintain access to the website – I also have the opportunity to attend group on Zoom if I want to, but I’m not sure if it’s for me, because being hard of hearing has always meant that I’ve found teleconferencing difficult in the past. (I could write a whole post about my anxieties about social distancing as a hard of hearing person – and I probably will at some point!)

It’s nice to be getting back to writing at the moment. I’ve got a small number of competitions to submit to over the next few weeks, and I’m also going to be spending May deciding which novel project I’m going to finalise over the summer, so that I can start querying agents again in the autumn. For various reasons relating to my career plans, late 2020/early 2021 is probably going to be the last substantial chunk of time for a good few years that I will be able to dedicate to writing, so I want to make the most of it.

I feel that being stricter about making sure my evenings are downtime-only has really helped with my productivity as well, because I don’t feel quite so burnt out. This is definitely something I’m going to continue with, even after lockdown has come to an end.

(Oh, and as promised: the link to the video of the group poem we did for poetry night, read by Pantisocracy Poetry founder Charlie. The first verse is mine!)

Getting to target at Slimming World
31st May 2018: with my brilliant and much-missed first consultant Katie, on the day I first got to target at Slimming World. I can’t wait to have that feeling again.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Roxette – ‘Dangerous’
Tight Fit – ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’
Roy Zimmerman & The ReZisters and Sandy Riccardi – ‘The Liar Tweets Tonight’

Shiny things, shiny thoughts

I’m finding it really hard to concentrate on things at the moment. My brain constantly seems to be in five places at once, and I’m always breaking off in the middle of things to do random Google searches before I realise what’s happening, and every day seems to fly by without me getting anywhere near as much done as I wanted to get done.

This has been the case my whole life to an extent – I’m a terrible daydreamer, always have been, because it just goes along with the territory when you’re a writer (and is also a very easy habit to get into when you’re a hard of hearing child!) – but in recent months it has really started affecting my work. Geth thinks I need a break, and he’s probably right, but in all honesty the most stressful thing for me is the feeling of constantly falling behind with everything, and taking time off would just make that worse. I don’t know what to do.

Today has been mostly taken up with day job work (which is taking me a lot longer than it should do due to the above) and admin. I had hoped to get the former finished today, but it didn’t happen, so I’ll be getting up early tomorrow to finish it off so that I can try and relax a bit over the weekend.

OOTD 28th June 2019
OOTD: sun still welcome but also still too bright for my recovering eye! Sunglasses Ray-Ban (2019), t-shirt Lauren Ralph Lauren (modern but bought from Headlock Vintage 2018), leggings Primark (2018), shoes Zara (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

OneRepublic – Counting Stars
Duran Duran – Serious
Duran Duran – I Don’t Want Your Love
Miami Sound Machine – Dr Beat
Duran Duran – Michael, You’ve Got A Lot To Answer For
Tyler Lyle – Lost And Found [The Midnight Remix]
Orange Juice – Rip It Up
Gunship – The Mountain

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

The Champs – Tequila

Your hearing power has levelled up!

The hearing aid saga is at an end for now! (I keep thinking of it in a ‘you’ve finished a quest!’ sort of way, which shows that my resumed videogame habit is already starting to affect my thinking. That was quick!) I went to pick up my new earmoulds at the hospital today. They’ve got that ‘new earmould smell’ that is making me nostalgic for early 2016, when I last got new earmoulds. I didn’t even remember that such a scent existed!

I’ve spent the afternoon getting on with writing and admin, and am looking forward to another quiet evening with my 3DS.

Tomorrow, I will finally have the chance to get on with this book pitch that was originally supposed to be sent out about six weeks ago!

OOTD 18th March 2019
OOTD: you can’t see them, but those new moulds are there. Scarf unknown brand (2019), jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), Duran Duran t-shirt Amplified (2018), jeans H&M (thrifted from Steff 2016), trainers Reebok (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – The Chauffeur
The Specials – Ghost Town
Pinkfong – Baby Shark
Sigala, John Newman and Nile Rodgers – Give Me Your Love
The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done
Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

Walking in the sunshine

I did another treadmill run this morning. The weather is definitely nice enough to run on the roads again, but I’m still finding the routes samey, and I’ve got a lot of BBC4 documentaries to watch. So yeah.

I did get out into the sun for a walk, though, as I needed to go to the hospital to see if they’d take my earmould impressions this time round after yesterday’s uncomfortable ear syringing experience. A long queue and some cold goop later, the impressions were ready to go. Success! I will need to go to the hospital one more time in about three weeks’ time to pick them up, but for the time being the saga seems to be done. They even sanded down the broken edge of my left earmould for me so that it wouldn’t irritate my ear while I’m waiting for the new ones.

I spent the rest of the day editing for myself and others, and am looking forward to getting a bit of writing done this evening. I’m also looking forward to slow cooker curry, which has become a bit of a favourite over the last couple of weeks.

OOTD 19th February 2019
OOTD: had to try out my new winter-patterned jumper before the winter disappeared! Jumper unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2019), leggings Primark (2018), boots Clarks (2009).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Clean Bandit and Demi Lovato – Solo
The Righteous Brothers – You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
Jean McCarthy – I Own It
Biffy Clyro – Many Of Horror
Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe
Ariana Grande – One Last Time
Madness – Driving In My Car
Lewis Capaldi – Grace
Mumford & Sons – The Cave
Katrina & The Waves – Walking On Sunshine
Lauv and Troye Sivan – I’m So Tired

She bangs the eardrums

As part of my hearing aid earmould replacement saga, I had to go to the GP this morning to get my ears syringed. I have had a lot of procedures done to my ears during my life, but I’ve never had to have irrigation done before. Due to my stupidly deformed inner ear workings, it was really uncomfortable – my extra-problematic left ear started bleeding during the procedure, and my extra-sensitive right ear has been aching for the rest of the day.

I also made the mistake of consulting Dr Internet afterwards, which told me that you should never have ear irrigation carried out if you have deformed eardrums, and now I’m a bit paranoid because nobody told me that before I went ahead with it.

Anyway, a combination of paracetamol and time seems to have helped with the pain, so I will head back to the hospital tomorrow in the hope that they’ll take the earmould impressions this time. One of my cracked moulds actually split in half when I was putting my aids in this morning, making it a bit uncomfortable to wear, so hopefully I’ll be able to get the replacement moulds sooner rather than later.

The rest of the day has been spent catching up with writing and editing. It’s going to be a bit of a hectic week, but I’ve got everything scheduled in – just need to keep zipping along.

OOTD 18th February 2019
OOTD: feeling sorry for myself and keeping warm! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), scarf unknown brand (2015), jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans Levi (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – New Religion
Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower
Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This?
George Ezra – Shotgun
Ariana Grande – 7 Rings
The Housemartins – Build
Westlife – Hello My Love
Marshmello and Bastille – Happier
Lewis Capaldi – Grace
Rita Ora – Anywhere
Martin Garrix and Khalid – Ocean
Ava Max – Sweet But Psycho
Halsey – Without Me
David Guetta and Sia – Titanium
Jean McCarthy – I Own It
Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

Seasonal dissonance

Well, all the snow melted overnight and the temperature suddenly jumped from ‘depths of winter’ to ‘more like spring’, so after getting all my writing done for the day, I ventured out to go get my hearing aid admin done at the hospital. This, as I should have expected with hearing-related medical stuff, was not as straightforward as it should have been.

In short: I need new earmoulds for my aids as my existing ones are starting to crack, but the technician said that before they can take impressions for the new moulds, I need to go to the GP to get my ears syringed, and then go back to the hospital. I’ve got the feeling that this is going to turn into one of those medical sagas that takes up a lot of time.

Time to get on with some ukulele practice, then back to writing for the evening, with some nice BBC4 music documentaries in the background.

OOTD 4th February 2019
OOTD: all of this was covered in snow yesterday! Jumper unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bananarama – Shy Boy
Haircut 100 – Love Plus One
Wilson Phillips – Hold On
Post Malone – Wow
Jax Jones and Years & Years – Play
Post Malone and Swae Lee – Sunflower
Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels