31 December 2020

Being taught to use Dragon

When I spoke with the occupational health nurse of the University about my RSI, she suggested that I could be given Dragon software. And she suggested I do a course to learn to work with it. That sounded reasonable! And so it worked out. First I downloaded the software, and then it was time to organise the training. I had imagined there would just be online tutorials, but that wasn’t how it worked out; I was trained by an actual person.

We would do two sessions of two hours. The first one mainly dealt with getting started, and text editing. The getting started was useful but overlapped with what I had already done my own; I had been practising with the software after all. So I had got used to my voice, and checked my microphone settings, et cetera. Then we came to text editing; writing, correcting, making bulleted lists, capitalising, hyphenating, italicising, justifying, and what not. And that is all very useful, but not the essence. I need to be able to not use my mouse! And that means moving between programs, manipulating spreadsheets, making PowerPoint slides and all such things. But the good thing is, that if you learn about manipulating text in Dragon, you also learn about the various commands, and how to look them up. And that is the road to being able to sort yourself out!

The second session was supposed to still be focused on Word, but we had done most of that. So we moved on to other programs; Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe reader came up. I had more questions than the instructor could answer there and then. And that is understandable! I suppose his clients are from all over the various walks of life, and all use different software. He can’t know everything about all of it. But he clearly set me up for Excel and PowerPoint, and told me that Adobe just is a program that Dragon struggles to work with. That is a pity! But he mentioned you can buy an add-on, SpeechStart, that might help. Dragon doesn’t recognise the various tabs in Reader, let alone the various options underneath them. But SpeechStart does!

The day after the course I got an email from the instructor; he had made some extra instruction videos for me that dealt with some of the questions I had about PowerPoint, Excel, and Adobe reader. Now that's good service! I think some of that will still be trying; making PowerPoint slides through voice control just looks like something that really tests your patience, but I suppose at least it can be done. Soon I will have to start practising!

I had been wondering if I should try to convince the University to buy me the second part of the course as well, but it looked like we had covered quite a lot of what is involved in it in these two sessions. And I know how the work to help function! So I think what l need to do now, is get the add-on, and then practice, practice, practice. And the fact that the blog is active again shows I’m on it!

30 December 2020

Finally seeing a medical person in person

 Having a medical problem during a time of a pandemic makes it a lot less likely to actually get to see medical professionals. I had been off work for many weeks, and still only spoken to people on the phone. When I had spoken to the local physiotherapist though, he had said that if the exercises he gave me didn't have the desired result, I would have to give a shout and then maybe he could actually see me. And unfortunately, his exercises indeed did not have the desired effect. I phoned the surgery again, and the lady answering the phone said she would ask him to phone me again. Still only a phone call! But what can one do.

When the day came he would phone me, it happened to be my birthday, so I kept a close eye on my phone. It is the kind of day when lots of people might want to phone you. And they did! But somewhere late morning I noticed I had no signal. That has happened before; it tends to mean the entire village has no signal. I checked the village Facebook page and indeed; it looked like both O2 and Vodafone were not working. That was no good! But I had to pop by the surgery anyway; I could just tell them I couldn't be reached.

I thought they would reschedule the call, but what actually happened was that they asked me to sit down while they would ask the physiotherapist to come see me. What? Actually see someone? I didn't expect that! I now wished I had put on a clean shirt that morning. But I was keen anyway.

Soon he called me up. And when I told him the issue was he asked me to make some movements with my arms to figure out where exactly the problem was. He agreed it was a soft tissue injury. And to my surprise, the least comfortable thing he made me do was exert pressure with my middle finger. One generally uses the index finger more! I did not expect that. But it will be useful to know when deciding on mouse settings.

He said that he could only do one of two things; refer me to hospital, or to some government scheme for getting people back to work. And he said the latter thing you could only use once. I suppose I might want to keep that for when I might be self-employed! So I went with the hospital. I know we are in a pandemic, but he said the waiting lists for hospital physiotherapy are surprisingly short these days. He said they would contact me and then I would get six sessions. I hope this will be soon! But I can imagine it won't. I'll have to see! And in the meantime just focus on becoming proficient in using a computer without using my hands. That was going to be terribly important anyway!

29 December 2020

Trying indoor food growing

The main growing season can be considered closed. I'm still growing things outside; I have peas, leek, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower outside. And one of the cabbages already provided a meal! But I wanted to know if I could use the higher temperatures in the house for some additional vegetable growing. So I planted carrots, pumpkin, kohl rabi, and beetroot. Some of it is in the conservatory, which is only marginally warmer than it is outside, and some of it I tried in the main part of the house. And the results? Not good! I think the conservatory is too cold while the house is too dark.

find the beetroot!

Not a big cabbage by cabbage standards, but it was a nice meal!

When I was using some garlic in the kitchen, though, I noticed some of it was sprouting. So I decided I have one more go and plant the sprouting garlic clothes. And they did come up! I have no idea if they have any intention to grow a nice head of garlic, but we'll see. It's nice to see that at least something seems to think my house is a good place to grow!

the garlic in  the windowsill

28 December 2020

Not back to work yet

The first four weeks were behind me. It was time to get back to work! At least, that’s what I thought. I phoned my GP as I am supposed to do that before my sick leave expires, but she was skeptical. She said RSI tends to take at least six to eight weeks to recover from. And I was at four! So she gave me another two weeks. And in these two weeks, I hoped my adaptations would get sorted. But I was a bit taken aback. Two more weeks? Four was already so bad! But I figured that this was the sort of mindset that had got me in trouble to start with. If your body needs to heal, then it needs to heal. And if there is work to do, then too bad. You only get one body! And jobs are replaceable. So I tried to resign myself to this ASAP. And continued my medication and exercises and all that.

Then the adaptations started to come in. The plan had been get them sent to my home address, but that had clearly not happened. I started getting messages from the receptionist of the School that packages had arrived. The software came just as an email with a download link. So soon I had software, a vertical mouse, and a wrist support. Enough to start with! The keyboard hadn’t appeared yet, but the whole point of the software was that I wouldn’t have to use it very often. So that could wait. The more important thing was: the software training! Software is only useful if you know how to use it.

The new setup with vertical mouse, mousepad and ergonomic keyboard

I had imagined it would be online training; that I would be given access to online tutorials. As there was nothing to choose between regarding training, I hadn’t looked too closely at the details. But when I did, I realised it was training by an actual person, and that that had to be organised. And then I figured it was me who had to sort this. And it was coming close to Christmas! I quickly set everything in motion. I wanted to get this sorted soon. So I contacted Occupational Health, and the training provider, and the administrative powers that be, to try to get everything organised. It turned out the provider had to be registered with the University as a supplier of services, but everyone was very helpful and it was all sorted in time.

There was a catch; the provider provided training in two parts, and I had only been assigned the first part. That was learning how to use the software in Word. That’s quite intuitive! And the second part involved software like Excel, PowerPoint, email tools and browsers. That was where the real gains were going to be made! So I suggested I just do the second part of the training, and teach myself the first part, but the provider wasn’t up for that. I can imagine though; that might not make for a good business model. I tried to convince the school to get me the second part of the training as well. Watch this space for results!

On the eve of my phased return to work my arms are still not quite right, but there was clear improvement, and I had faith that once I would be proficient with the Dragon software, I could work a fair number of hours quite efficiently without doing more damage to my arms. So I had hope! And the new semester was already really close, so it was about time!

27 December 2020

Into the early snow

One November Thursday I walked out of the house and I noticed that there was a dusting of snow on the hills. The first snow of the season! I was excited. It didn't stay, of course, but two weeks later, there was more. And Kate was up for exploring it. So on the Friday I got my ice axe and crampons from underneath a layer of dust, made a packed lunch, and went to bed early.

We met at 730 on a layby. It was still dark! But we could see it would soon be light. We didn’t need head torches when we set off. It started out rather sloshy! But soon we were in the snow. Visibility wasn’t great, but it was beautiful anyway. And soon we got to snow that in places was so deep you could really sink down into it. And we got to Ffynnon Lloer. 

Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen in the early morning

Very soon we were in the snow

We reached the level of the lake and crossed the river

From there was rather steep up. I had to use my hands! Even though I had the ice axe just in case, I hadn’t really counted on anything like that. I’m not supposed to do grippy things! But Kate, who knows this route better than I do, said this was only a very small section that was that steep, and soon we would be on the ridge, where we could just walk. And she was right!

Me on the steep bit; pic by Kate

On the steep bit we did sit down for coffee and cake, and we looked at lots of people lower down in the valley. Most seemed to have skis on their backs! Rather them than me. And there were some more hikers too. We had a chat with the bloke in a red jacket.

A bit higher up we put our crampons on. The snow had only been here two days, but the wind had already blown it into ice. It was quite gusty up there! We soon were at the top of Pen yr Ole Wen. We just kept going and had some food at Carnedd Dafydd. From there it was a bit trying; the wind was cold and biting. I didn’t have skiing goggles with me! That was an omission. It wasn’t actually that cold, but the wind made it so. We kept moving. The bloke in the red jacket passed us again. And at Craig Llugwy we bumped into a small group of women; Kate knew some of them, so we had a chat. But not too long, as that would be cold. We headed for Carnedd Llewelyn. When we were close to it, some other hikers came in the other way, going downhill. Kate remarked that we would be heading that way too. I wondered then why we were struggling uphill in a howling gale. She just wanted to bag the peak! I wasn’t keen; I was sort of done being buffeted by the wind. And I managed to convince her. We headed downhill.

By the time we came down from the ridge I was looking properly wintery

A beautiful panorama made by Kate from the last high location on the hike

Within seconds we were out of the worst of the wind. The landscape was magical! It was really nice. And then my crampon came off. That wasn’t a problem; we were in soft snow now. I took the other one off as well. But when we got to Craig yr Ysfa I had to put them back on again; there are steep bits there too. I noticed my own improvised improvement had broken and had caused the one crampon to come off! I took out the shoelace that I use for tying my hair back, and used it to do an improvised repair on an improvised improvement. It worked!

I just had enough battery power left on my phone to take a picture of Kate taking a picture when the sun was low above the Glyders

Once we were on y Braich we sat down for the last time, to eat the last food and drink the last drink. And from there it was just a trundle back to the road. The snow got sloshy and then vanished. Then we were on soggy grass. And when we reached the road, we crossed it, and headed for the old tramline on the other side. That is a much nicer route to walk back. And by the time we got to the cars it was dark again! We had walked some 19 km, and scampered between 300 m and over a thousand metres altitude. I think it is fair to say we had made the most of the day! I was keen to go home, have a shower, and have a hearty meal. And phone my mum! So that is what I did. This must’ve been the highlight of my sick leave!

26 December 2020

Project public footpaths

My Dutch friends here in North Wales had tried out every single public footpath on Anglesey. It had taken them years! I thought it meant they were very patient. But I saw the charm of the whole project. And when I was restricted to places near my house for a while, due to my arms not quite allowing for either biking or driving, I decided to do something a lot more small-scale in my own surroundings. I wanted to try out all the public footpaths I hadn’t yet. I know quite a lot of them wouldn’t exist, but some surely would, and it would be good to know. So I set to work!

Of these parts, I wanted to know several things: did they exist? Were they beautiful? How soggy were they? Could you reasonably run on them? The first thing was generally a useful thing to know, and the second one determined whether I would want to revisit them. The sogginess was good to know so I would know under what circumstances to go there. And if paths were unusually good, I could even run on them! I’m always keen on new running routes.

I enjoyed doing that! Quite a lot of paths were very beautiful. Some indeed didn’t exist. Some of them had river crossings that looked like they were mainly a good idea in the somewhat dryer season. Not very many were good for running, but some were, and I have already tried them. So now I know what’s there! And I like sitting in my living room when it’s pitch dark outside, knowing how many beautiful paths there are within ten miles of my house. That might mean I’m boring but I don’t care! I think enjoying your surroundings is a good thing. And I’m surely doing that.

25 December 2020

2020: a year for a kitsch Christmas

 This was going to be the first Christmas in the long time that I wasn’t going to go to the Netherlands. I regretted that; it’s nice to see family! But I wasn’t comfortable with travelling in the depth of a pandemic, and the thought of self-isolation afterwards didn’t attract me either. So I had to make my own Christmas!

I didn’t really have a habit of decorating my house for Christmas, but since I had my own house, and it actually had a functional living room, I had started doing it. The house had come with its own Christmas decoration, and it seemed silly not to use it. So I had only made the effort once, but this year it mattered more. And yes Christmas decoration is kitsch, but hey, it is Christmassy! I didn’t try luring in a plant to function as a Christmas tree this time, as I had the impression the plant that suffered that fate wasn’t very happy, but I put up the lights and just hung the tinsel from remotely suitable surfaces and structures. And the baubles could just be hung from the ceiling beam or arbitrary nails. I was happy with the result! It really looked Christmassy now.

And what to actually do? I had plans to just do my thing, but then a bit fancier; go for a walk if the weather permits it, do a run if it doesn’t, light a nice fire afterwards, and make an extra nice meal. I also wanted to video-call with some relatives; that way I would still feel connected to them. I figured I could make it lovely!

It looked like this was all going to happen, but when all the UK nations agreed on what to do with Christmas, and it turned out we could bubble up with two other households, it looked like I might actually see people in person too. I could have dinner with Jaco and Marjan! A real one, with all of us being physically present!

This also agreed to with all the nations, but it was evident that Wales had always been more careful than England. So quite soon the news reported that the rules would be stricter in Wales. Anything stricter and our dinner would fall through. But then I read the small print, and I saw that even though Wales now only allowed to households to combine, and I don’t consider myself to be high enough on the priority list of my friends to be that household, it was allowed to add solitary people! So I didn’t really count, and I could still have dinner with them, even if a household of relatives would do the same. And then the rules were tightened even more; you could only see one other household, and only on Christmas Day. But that would still work! My friends and I would just be these two households.

I also started making plans with my sister, who wasn’t looking forward to a COVID Christmas. We figured we could have Christmas dinner on a screen! And we decided to cook the same thing. Preparations are ongoing!

24 December 2020

Outcome of University budget cut plans

 I knew my highly appreciated colleague Suzie had decided to take voluntary redundancy. And I knew one of the biologists had also quit; she wanted to seek her fortunes further south. And I knew that the management of the School was chasing three more redundancies. To us, that looked like a bloodbath, and it also didn’t seem to add up with the financial information we had. We had compiled a big document that detailed all that, and made sure that both the people making the final decisions about how the University would effect the budget cuts, and the union, received it. And then we could do nothing but wait. And then suddenly there was a message from the Head of School. He called a meeting.

In the meeting, which was also attended by the Dean, he told us that we had been correct and that no further redundancies were needed. We could all keep our jobs! And that was good news. But we were angry about how this whole process had played out. Several of us made that very clear.

After that meeting, we had another small meeting without management. This was quite a big moment! And I had to do a bit of recalibration. I never expected the job losses would be as bad as management had made it sound, but I didn’t expect no further redundancies at all either. I had already made partial peace with losing my job! And now that peace went out of the window again.

I may very well not stay in academia until my retirement, but it would be foolish to quit my job while my arms weren’t functioning properly, we were in the middle of the pandemic, and BREXIT was looming. So I was going to stay! So soon this blog will be back to reporting on frantic distance learning in the new semester!

23 December 2020

Sick for a whole month

My recovery didn’t go very fast.  The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t get spasms in my arm muscles anymore.  When I was still working, I would get these.  But the unpleasant feeling in my lower arms stayed.  This worried me.  I was at the risk of losing my job, and my arms were damaged and not recovering!  How was I supposed to earn a living without arms?  The fact that the economy was bombing and was going to be bombing a lot more due to Brexit didn’t help.  And it was going to be a lone EU citizen, a possibly unemployed one at that, in the middle of all of that.  Not a reassuring thought!  And there isn’t much you can do to speed up the recovery process.  I made sure to do my exercises and take my medication, but it didn’t seem enough.  After a while I phoned my GP again, to see if I could see the physiotherapist.  My new surgery had one too.  He wouldn’t see me, but he was willing to speak to me on the phone.  He gave me some more exercises, and said that if they wouldn’t help in two or three weeks I should phone again.  He also encouraged me to try a riding my bike, and not wear my wrists splints too often.  So from then on my a meal times became a bit busy with both sets of exercises.  But that’s OK!  If I can exercise my way out of this then that would be perfect.

I also tried my bike a bit more, on his advice; I had to been running from my front door, and I was actually looking forward to a bit of variation.  So I rode my bike to a place where a big public footpath came onto the road, parked up there, and ran the footpath. That went well!  I later also biked to the foot of some slate quarry spoil heaps, and then climbed them to find out which one it was I could see from my window.  That was a success too!

Me in beautiful late light on the public footpath

On the slate heaps above the village

A bigger problem was keeping it together.  As I said before, I was scared. It's scary to realise your job is on the line, it's scary to have an injury that prevents you from working and that just doesn't seem to want to heal, and it's scary to be an EU citizen in a country that is hurtling towards a no-deal BREXIT. What didn’t help either was that the university at some point announced it was extending the VR scheme, but then refused to say for at least two weeks by how much they were extending it. That wasn’t helpful! In theory, they could just say at some arbitrary time that the scheme would end in the next five minutes. And then just hurl compulsory redundancy at whoever they wanted to still lose. That could be me! And then you got get only three months’ worth of wages to keep you ticking over until you have found another source of income, rather than the six months of voluntary redundancy. There is a lot you can do with three months’ worth of wages, but I think it evaporates quickly if you’re not even fit for work.

Aside from the uncertainty, I struggled with the lack of purpose. I had been working fulltime forever!  More than full-time.  And then suddenly not working four weeks on end is a shock.  I felt guilty that my colleagues were working themselves silly and I was at home, and not working at all.  But that doesn’t help.  I made a conscientious effort to stay positive.  My runs surely helped.  And at some point I started making schedules of what I intended to do each day.  Things like Welsh revision and brushing up on my grammar and such.  That helped to keep me on track! 

I can imagine that unemployment does a lot of damage to people.  Being sick at home caused me more problems than the entire rest of the pandemic and the switch to distance learning. And I'm not sure how much of my unease was due to not working, and how much to worrying about the gravity of the situation, but still. I must be a bit weird!  My biggest gripe with my life is that I’m always overworked, but then suddenly when I am not, I struggle to cope.  And it affects me more than 50,000 people dead.  Crikey.  But it might explain why I ended up with the RSI in the first place…

22 December 2020

Life on sick leave

After months of very hard work I suddenly wasn't working at all. So what was I doing? Well, there wasn't that much I could do; a lot of the things I could theoretically do involved using my hands too much, so that was off-limits. So much time now to do chores, and no hands to do them with! So I was basically left with reading, walking, and running. And that's what I did! I had more to read than I could shake a stick at; I could brush up my Welsh, my math, and my proofreading. I could even read for pleasure, but that didn't happen an awful lot.

My runs have become a bit longer, as I now have time, and it’s good on my arms. I have been exploring some new routes, and variations on old routes. I have to time it rather sharply now though, as the days are so short.

I also have been going on a few walks; once I went into Nant Ffrancon to explore one of the hanging valleys there I hadn’t been in yet. That wasn't such a good idea; I biked to the start, which was OK as it was uphill, but on the way back I had to squeeze my brakes a bit too much. So I decided to always go from home.

The hanging valley I visited; notice the landslide scar

One day I decided to chase my view; I can see a mast and a hill from my house, and I had been to both several times, but I had never managed to spot my house from there. It has to be possible if I can see them from my window! This time I brought binoculars, and now I have actually seen my own house from these landmarks. On the way back I just tried a few public footpaths I had never got around to.

My house is somewhere in this picture: honest!

Another mission was to see to what extend I could follow the old slate railroad out of town. The answer is: not very much! The route is blocked in very many places. And some just about accessible bits were clearly used for fly-tipping. There was one stretch where there was quite a nice path on the old rail track, but it just ended in a fence with a meadow on the other side. But now I know!

Where it was easy to follow the old railroad; at Felin Fawr

I later also chased up a lot of local public footpaths I had never explored before. Quite a lot of them have rather arbitrary starts or ends. But now I have the time to chase them up anyway!

A distant and soggy public footpath I hadn't tried before

20 December 2020

Sorting things out

I had called in sick on Monday afternoon. You can do that for a week. I was hoping that my sick note would come in before the end of that week, but it hadn't arrived by Saturday. So on Monday I had to start phoning around. I phoned my old GP and asked what the situation was. They said they had the sick note there, and that I could come and get it. Well OK then! I jumped in my car. Driving didn't feel good on my arms but it wasn't too bad. I got the sick note, and popped by a friend who lives near my old GP. It was nice to catch up in front of his house!

I went home and switched on the computer for the first time since setting my out of office reply. I had to scan the note and send it to my line manager. I also sent it to the occupational health nurse. She then sent a form for my manager to fill out, so she could start organizing adjustments for me. My manager then asked me to complete the form. Heck no! To be fair, he said that if I didn't feel able to do that, I could phone him. I did that, about five times, but he didn't answer. I left a voicemail, and even email to alert him to the voicemail. Days later he mailed me to ask if I had tried to phone him, and to ask if I had any teaching that wasn't covered. I found that rather problematic; he is my manager. He should know what my teaching is, and he is the one who should have organized people covering for me where needed. Sort it out, I am off sick!

At some point I had a discussion with the director of teaching and learning about my teaching. I am perfectly fine talking to people; they can just make a teams call that I can answer on my phone. What I am not so keen on, is doing anything that requires me rummaging through my files or something like that, as these are on my computer, and I don't want to have to switch that thing on. Anyway; I told him what I was teaching, which bits I had prepared to the extent that the students could work with my materials on their own, what lectures were already recorded and uploaded and which ones needed to still be prepared, and all that kind of stuff. All that would be taken care off!

For the rest I just continued with my routine; ice, ibuprofen gel, wrist splints, exercises and running.  And trying to stay away from my phone. And hope for the best! 

First contact with a medical person

When I signed off sick, the only thing I could do was take it easy and wait for my phone call with the physiotherapist on Wednesday. I went for a run! My arms never feel better then when I am running. And later I just did the usual thing of having dinner and such. And the day after I made a little phone stand so I could talk to my phone without having to hold it. And I did some home chores. And of course I went for a run.

On Wednesday I made sure I was ready for when I would get the phone call. She was supposed to phone at 9:20. But nothing happened! I got really scared. Would she just not call? And if not, would that be another three weeks of waiting? That would be awful!  When I had almost given up she finally phoned. Phew!

She asked me a lot of questions about my situation. She didn't seem to be too alarmed! That was good. She suggested I have inflammations in the tissue around the tendons in my arms. And that can be treated. She said she would send me some exercises to do, and suggested I cool my arms with ice, and wear wrist braces. And put anti-inflammatory gel on my arms. And she said that if it wouldn't help I could switch to oral anti-inflammatory medication. And she would send me a sick note. But she also said I should swap GPs. I said I would!

When we were done I felt better already; I now knew what to do to recover as quickly as I could. And that she hadn't been too alarmed was good too. But I had stuff to do now. I quickly ordered the braces. And phoned the local GP surgery.

The first thing I now had to sort was get me a new GP. I had kept my Menai  Bridge GP when I moved house, not realizing you are not supposed to do that. But I suppose now I know, so I went to the surgery to sort that out. There is a pharmacy there too which was good for the gel. But the GP requiring information I didn't have, and the pharmacy having a lunch break, resulted in me making three trips. But in the end I sorted it!

I also defrosted the freezing compartment of my fridge; that would get me ice to cool my arms. And I went for a run. Of course!

So then I had a new routine. Ice, gel, exercises and runs. And I did some reading and chores.  The sort of thing I otherwise never have time for! And by Friday my arms were not feeling the least bit better yet, but I had hope that things would improve. This problem had built up over months; it was not likely it would be solved in a few days!  

19 December 2020

Signing off sick

I had realized quite a while ago that things were wrong with my arms. I had phoned my GP, but all they could offer me was a phone consultation with a physiotherapist in three weeks’ time. I took it, but it was not what I had hoped for. I kept trying to work only using my voice, but that doesn't quite work. Sometimes the computer just doesn't understand what you want, or it just cannot be done by voice. And then you have little choice but to use your hands.  And it got to the point where I was almost in tears when I knew I had to do that. Something needed to be done. I had already looked on the University website for advice on what to do and who to contact in case of RSI, but all I had found was some stuff that looked like the legally required minimum. One of those documents you see stuck to the in the workplace; that sort of stuff. But I just decided to phone the head of health and safety. He didn't answer.

The next day I spoke with Jenny. She said we have and occupational health nurse. She also knew her name; they both count as employees of human resources. So the next day I phoned her! She didn't answer either. But I sent her and email. Then that Monday I got a reply.

The occupational health nurse was very understanding and supportive. She suggested I called in sick, and she would contact my line manager so she could start making preparations for my return. She suggested different voice recognition software and training to come with that. That sounded good! I am entirely self-taught. She also hoped to get a diagnosis from the physiotherapist.

After talking to the occupational health nurse I sent an email to my manager to say I was ill, and shut down the computer, intending to not switch it back on for a long time. However, I realized I had forgot to send an auto reply, so I had to log back in. It is important that if people email me they know I can't reply. Initially it went wrong; I accidentally activated my old message from the summer that said I was on annual leave until a certain date in July. That didn't really help. But when I had sorted that, I could shut it down and go analogue. I still have my phone, but as working that also lead to pain I tried to avoid that as much as I could as well. I had started to use speech recognition on that too, but that was again a different software package, and it took some getting used to. To be honest, I'm still struggling a bit with it. The windows package is slow, but I can produce pretty much any texts with it, as long as they are in English. Not so much so with Apple! But now a was time to move back a century and just it on the sofa with a book.

So now I was off on sick leave. An unusual thing! I don't think I’d ever called in sick since coming to Wales. I tend to only be ill over Christmas. But it seems necessary now. These arms need some time away from a computer… 

17 December 2020

Blog flickers back to life

So here it is! After almost seven weeks. Another blog post. It's a bit weird to realise the last post was in October, while now we are properly in winter and the year is almost over. It has been a strange time!

I suppose I'll keep this post for just flagging up that something is happening again. And then slowly I will fill everyone in with what has happened in the meantime. I had been dictating notes to my phone during these weeks so there is a lot of text that I can now put onto the blog again! And when that's done, I can start going back to my routine of plonking my rather uneventful life on here, with a few days delay, on a regular basis! I'm glad I feel able to get back to this. I've missed blogging!