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Bruce Bickerton - 14 Oct 2018
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Ain’t it odd how one takes one’s own good health so much for granted? It’s only when things start to go awry that one’s fallibilities are brought into sharp focus.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac, fearing the absolute worst whenever even the smallest, most trivial thing befalls me. Ask anyone close to me and they’ll cheerfully confirm this. Is this an affliction that tends to affect the male of the species more than the female? Most of the hypochondriacs that I’ve discussed this with have been blokes. My wife, Nina is almost the polar opposite – her mantra of ‘there’s no point in worrying about something until there’s something to worry about‘ certainly rings true.

I’m writing this piece whilst I’m on holiday in Greece. Regular readers of this blog probably think I spend a lot of time out here, but in actual fact, we’re here just once a year; twice if I’m very fortunate. Actually, it’s only whilst on holiday that I seem to find any spare time to sit and write these thrilling articles. When I’m at home in the UK, there seems to be always something else that’s far more important to spend time on. That’s the way it goes, I guess.

Anyway, as is my wont, I’m digressing.  When I was over here about two years ago, I wrote a piece on my love of swimming and snorkelling. Time in the water has pretty much been the highlight of this holiday, too. However, my enjoyment of being in the azure Agean seas have been cruelly curtailed by something that has blighted me since I was about 8 years old.

It’s the rather un-glamorous subject of earwax.

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Those of you who are still persevering with this article will more than likely take for granted one of our most important senses; hearing. As a musician (of sorts), of the five senses (six, if you’re into the paranormal and suchlike), being able to hear properly is a pretty damned important one.

Since the age of eight, when I first complained of slight hearing loss to my Mum, I’ve had to have my ears regularly syringed. To the uninitiated, this involves around a week of treating both ear canals to regular, liberal doses of slightly warmed olive oil, or, if you’re fresh out of olive oil and are more chemically inclined, hydrogen peroxide. Most people’s ear canals are lubricated automatically; their ear wax is of a damp and oily nature. Mine ain’t. It’s dry, flaky shit and, as a consequence, tends to get trapped deep in the orifice of my lug’oles.

Over time, this gradually accumulates and ultimately blocks the ear canal. The upper frequencies of my hearing start to become impaired. The tinnitus I suffer with becomes far more noticeable during periods of relative silence.

I’m a silly sod, though. I know that when I go swimming, I need to have clear ears, ‘cos otherwise the water pressure when I dive underwater during my pleasurable snorkelling expeditions tends to drive what ear wax I have further into the depths of my ear canal, rendering me, well, erm, deaf.

And that’s precisely the situation that I find myself in whilst I hammer away on my laptop keyboard. It’s decidedly un-nerving, not to mention extremely disorientating.

Thing is, once you start having your ears syringed, you have to keep having them syringed. The body tends to become lazy and reliant on others to sort out this tiresome issue. Certainly, as I’ve got older, the more frequently I seem to need to undergo the procedure. It’s a bloody nuisance.

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I won’t go into too much detail here, as some of you might be about to eat.

Maybe you’d prefer not to read about my fascination with bodily functions at all – in which case I suggest you skip the remainder of this paragraph and join me at the start of the next one… but I remember with a degree of grisly relish the memory of the sheer amount of detritus that was forcibly ejected from my ear cavities when I first had them syringed, waay back in 1975. The nurse was going to throw the offending muck away, but as a kid, I was keen to see what the cause of my temporary deafness looked like. Two, huge lumps of gack floated in the basin; I couldn’t believe that this amount of shit had been housed in such small orifices!

Anyway, moving swiftly on… let’s face it; there’s little point in getting all doom and gloom about this.

Let’s look on the bright side! That old adage ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ springs to mind when I recall the sensation of having just had my ears freshly cleaned… the incredible sensation upon leaving the doctor’s surgery of being able to hear again in full, amazing spectro-quadrophonic sound! You can literally hear a fucking pin drop. One minute, your hearing is akin to being submerged underwater; just about able to make out lower-frequencies. The next, everything is as bright as a proverbial button! It’s an amazing sensation.

Memorex_Ad

It’s a sensation that I’m already looking forward to. Presently, approximately 35% of my hearing remains intact. My remaining ‘good ear’ was plaguing me prior to our departure on holiday; I was considering getting both ears ‘sorted’ before the flight out to Greece.

Now, though, after telephoning to make an appointment with the nurse at my local doctor’s surgery back in the UK, it transpires that I’ll have to wait at least three whole weeks until I can hear properly again. I’m hoping that in the meantime, I’ll get that glorious ‘popping’ sensation when air pressure, or something similar, clears the offending ear canal sufficiently for me to have a temporary glimpse back into the wonderful world of stereo. What’s really frustrating is that before I left for our holiday, I had the seeds of a really excellent new composition on the go, and I’ve been itching to get back to the studio to carry on where I left off… hey ho, shit happens. I’ll just have to be patient; a trait that doesn’t come easily to us Bickertons..

Again, though, I marvel at the human anatomy and the intricacies of the brain that enable one to compensate when things do happen to go ‘wrong’. A few days ago, when I first developed this, erm, for want of a better word, ‘disability’, my balance was wonky and I felt slightly sick. Now, my brain has obviously worked out what the issues are, and has assimilated how to make the situation more bearable. In actual fact, it’s true that when your senses don’t do what they’re supposed to, what remains works overtime. This is certainly the case at the moment.

It also makes you very appreciative and thankful when everything finally gets back to normal. Here’s to the the indefatigable human spirit!!

 

*Oh, and just in case you’re wondering why I’ve chosen the sleeve for Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ as the background for this blog, it’s actually a close-up of someone’s ear, taken underwater… As a massive fan of this album, it took me a good long while to realise what it was.

Have you ever spotted it?


UPDATE
12th October 2018

Just in case you’re interested, we arrived back from Greece last last night.

I was hoping that the air pressure in the plane would at least alleviate some of the issues that I’ve written about, but unusually, there was no improvement at all. Needless to say, I booked myself an appointment with the doctor as early as possible today, and after a thorough examination, it appears that I have a rather inflamed eardrum, Whilst there’s a slight build up of crap in the ear, the doctor could see my ear canal and reported that it was looking ‘rather angry’.

Mercifully, I’ve never suffered from this kind of condition before. I’ve been put on an antibiotic that I have to spray into the affected ear three times a day for the next week.

Hopefully I’ll start to hear some improvement in the next few days.

The tinnitus is driving me MAD.


Article originally posted on the alucidnation website

 

4 Comments

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Jeremy Pearce

I've lost my hearing in the right for over 3 weeks now .It took 2weeks to see a doctor and the canals clear .It went on the night after levitation .The doctors put me on steroids for 10 days .Last night I was talking to a yoga teacher and she reminded me of the controlled yoga breathing techniques and I am about to try that .The drums intact and I use sound frequency ear plugs anywhere near loud sound sources now .It's freaked me out big time But I've had some kind of sinus virus for a month my dream is that's what's caused the problem .Not the constant battering I've given them since I started seeing metal bands as a 15 year old .Bits are starting to drop off Bruce Regards Jeremy 😁

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Steve Kimberley

'Ear 'ear.
Boy does this ring bells.
(Not particularly high register bells, admittedly, but lots of bells nonetheless).
I guess my particular problem isn't directly related to Bruce's, but the effects and symptoms come pretty damn close. For me, It started when I was an oily oik apprentice in a big factory in Coventry in the very early seventies. I'd been shuffled around various departments trying to find me a job I could actually do well (even if I myself knew exactly what I was best at and wanted to do, but somehow 'The Management' didn't want to acknowledge that and kept prodding me further and further from my goal). Eventually they put me on a huge, hydraulically-driven milling machine which made the most God-awful row, constantly, from its ultra-high-pressure pumps.
I stuck it until I eventually managed to move into the Publications Dept about three years later, but by then the damage had already been done.
We all know, now, about the dangers of high levels of noise, and nowadays nobody would be permitted to use such a tool without ear protection (indeed, I'm quite sure that particular machine (A Marwin Max-e-Mill, if anyone is geek enough) would be permitted).
As I've aged, I've noticed a fairly rapid reduction in my hearing quality, in much the way Bruce does, but mine is irreversible.
All the things Bruce mentions - they're all there; but sadly no amount of crap-blasting makes a blind bit of difference. And the tinnitus level, particularly when someone reminds you of it (cheers Bruce!), is bloody horrible.
I'm waiting for the day that Mandi starts to tell me that the telly is too loud. That'll be a bad day.
And yes, the Meddle 'ear' has been on my shelf since it was first released, and it's probably my second favourite Floyd album; perhaps ironically*
Maybe it's a Frankton thing? ;)
*Behind WYWH, not the obvious one...

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Pete Lawrence

Early 70s work conditions left a lot to be desired, didn't they. My first (illegal) job was at 15 in the industrial holiday fortnight in late July 73 at Lockheed / Automotive Products on the unfashionable side of Leamington, cleaning the factory while all the workers were in Minehead Butlins or wherever they went. One of my jobs was to lie under a machine and scrap the greasy grime off it. Inevitably, gravity played its part and I got some in my eyes occasionally. After a couple of days of this my tolerance was wearing thin and I plucked up courage to complain to the foreman. Hi response, in true early 70s fashion was "You've got a f**** n'other eye, haven't you? Use that!' I loved the way he grammatically tore up the rule book on this occasion, inserting the word f***** within another word.... not 'another f****** eye' but 'a f**** n'other eye'. I may chuckle now but I didn't in the workhouse-like conditions up the Tachbrook Road during that hot summer.

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Steve Kimberley

You try telling that to the kids of today ;)

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