Wowsers! I can’t believe it’s been six months since I last did one of these. I knew I’d fallen behind, but I didn’t realise just how far until I started writing this one! I’m starting 2022 in style, and that means monthly updates that are actually monthly (*gasp*) so hold onto your hats as I take you on a whirlwind catch up of the last six months!
My physical health is one of the main reasons why I fell so behind with these updates and why I’ve been on semi-hiatus since October. I’ve been ill so many times in the last six months that I’ve actually lost track of what, why and when! There was a stubborn sinus infection that involved a horrible reaction to the first set of antibiotics I was given because the nurse who prescribed them didn’t check the side effects. She gave me ones that have a main side effect of headaches when I was already getting terrible sinus headaches AND I suffer from chronic migraines – it was not fun. The pharmacy didn’t give me an instruction leaflet with them either, which I always read through, so I had to look them up online once it became clear that something was not right.
The next time I needed antibiotics a GP called to confirm which ones caused the issue and there is now a note on my file that I have a reaction to them. This time there was a nasty sinus infection which spread to my chest and could have been something far more insidious, but we’ll never know; covid. When the delta strain was doing the rounds I got a horrible head cold, and I’d heard that this strain was showing as the symptoms of a head cold. The problem is, and has been since the pandemic started, that the symptoms for the virus are the same as my usual health conditions. I felt like I was having a bad flare up, and then the head cold came along.
My exposure to other people had been minimum. I had been out once to the doctor’s surgery, had contact with a nurse who was wiping down everything I touched before I even left the room (it was a temporary nurse; my usual nurse is much friendlier and not so rude!). My bubble is made up of myself and two other people, who also had limited contact with people, and they were showing no symptoms at all.
I took a home test to be on the safe side, and it came back negative. I stopped panicking and looked after myself to the point where I figured out that it was an infection. Then, when the GP called to talk to me about the antibiotics and asked how I was feeling, I explained everything, and she dropped the bombshell on me that the home tests are apparently quite unreliable and there’s a good chance I actually had been ill with covid. But by this point (several weeks later) it wouldn’t show up in a test, so there was no point going for a test. So, did I have it? I’ll never know. I do know that next time I’ll be going for a PCR test if I’m ever worried again.
I’d like to say that was the last of it… nope!
We visited my parents in London in November, and the day after we flew back we had our flu and booster vaccines. I had terrible side effects; headaches again. It seems that I have become susceptible to that particular side effect, and I am not a fan. I don’t think the pressure from the plane helped, and ever since my sinuses have not been right. I’m trying to self-manage the symptoms because another dose of antibiotics in six months is just overkill even for me.
My mental health has been up and down at times, but has generally been steady depending on what has been happening. I had some bad news at the start of December as one of my friends from university lost her battle with cancer. I met Lynne when we were both studying Information and Library studies at the University of Strathclyde here in Glasgow. She was bright, warm and funny, and friendly to everyone. She also had a stutter, and I remember awkwardly asking her, “What can I do for you when you stutter?”. Lynne told me what she needed me to do (wait and let her finish what she was saying) and our friendship grew from there.
I wish I could say I have loads of memories, great photos and experiences with Lynne. Sadly I don’t. That same year I developed ME/CFS and started missing classes, didn’t get to graduate with the rest of the class and lost touch with a lot of people. I managed to keep in touch with some of my class via Facebook, Lynne included, but it’s not quite the same as being able to be a fully active part of people’s lives. Every time I’d be back at uni after missing a day or two, Lynne would always be one of my classmates who checked to see how I was doing. That was just how she was; she had time for everyone. You can see it in the work she did with Stammer charities and organisations and the tributes people have paid to her after her passing.
I don’t think I realised until after she passed how much of an influence her thirst for making a difference had on me. As a disabled woman it often feels like I can’t make a difference because I’m fighting insurmountable odds. Everything is stacked against me. Then there was Lynne, not letting her stammer stop her, not letting people’s judgements stop her, and utilising both to help other people. I just wish I’d been able to tell her all that before she died.
Please take the time to read more about Lynne and her fantastic work at the tribute page set up here by Stamma.org.
In September, I did something I’ve never done before; I hosted an event. It was extremely ambitious, especially as I decided to do it within two months, and it could have gone completely wrong. Somehow, despite things not going to plan, it went really well and even before it had finished people were talking about next year!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m referring to GeekDis, a month-long discussion for the disabled community about disability representation in pop culture. While I didn’t get as many posts out on Just Geeking By as I wanted, I got to do so many other things:
- I worked with a lot of fantastic people to bring relevant content about disability representation.
- This included interviews with people throughout the disability community, from bloggers, cosplayers, therapists, authors and more who talked about what disability representation meant to them and why it is so important.
- I worked with The LUNA Project, a brilliant charity that raises awareness and supports young people with chronic illnesses, on a social media campaign! Click here to see What disability really looks like!
- Throughout September, I led discussion topics on social media.
- I also hosted my first giveaways on Just Geeking By, giving away a book with disability representation in it and two other prizes that were kindly donated by small businesses ran by disabled women. Both Mrs B’s Hive and The Divine Hag offer products that are designed for people with chronic health conditions.
While I wish I’d organised things a lot better, I’m really proud of what I achieved, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year – in a more organisation fashion!
For a lot of the six months I didn’t play anything. I got stuck in a rut again, especially before and during September. I was working my ass off with GeekDis and didn’t have time to play anything, then I tried to play Lust for Darkness and got stuck. By stuck, I mean I got to a scary bit with a monster that I’m supposed to sneak past and failed multiple times. I gave up.
I eventually found my way back to Final Fantasy XIV and haven’t looked back. Now that I’ve been free from the toxic influence of World of Warcraft for a while I’ve been able to relax a lot more with my gaming, and I’m not getting stressed while playing FFXIV like I was before. Last time I played I was dealing with some triggers too and this time I just took it slow, played on my own and did what I wanted, bit by bit. There was a period where all I did was catch up on my fishing – and I loved it! I finished Heavensward, and I’m currently working my way through Stormsblood.
I also finally started playing Animal Crossing. I’m not a big console player, and it took going away to London, being away from my PC and not having a decent gaming laptop with me, to basically force me out of my comfort zone. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to play it as I’ve always struggled with my disabilities to use consoles, but I found the Switch very easy and comfortable to play! I was very quickly hooked! Then the sinus headaches started again and playing on the handheld screen seemed to be giving me more headaches. I like to be able to play a little bit, put it down and then pick it back up again. Unfortunate the way our living room is set up, our TV is angled away from my desk so to play it on the big screen I have to get up and sit on the couch. I did it for a few days when I was feeling ill after the vaccines, and then I got bored with just sitting on the couch.
Just like with gaming I took a break from watching while I was working on things for GeekDis. I started to watch my DC shows when the new seasons came on finally in the summer, then stopped any having actually gone back to them yet (I got distracted and lost the vibe). When I finally returned to TV in October it was to back to my old comfort zone of crime TV shows!
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is always tricky to get hold of here in the UK. It’s one that comes on for a certain time and then disappears pretty quickly, so I make a point to watch it as soon as I see a new season (season 22 this time) is available. This time there was also the bonus of the new spin-off series starring Christopher Meloni, Law & Order: Organised Crime.
After completing those two I moved onto the final season of MacGyver (season 5) which was bittersweet as it always is when a show you loved comes to an end. While I wish there had been more episodes with Henry Ian Cusick as Russ Taylor whose character was beginning to grow on me, I also feel that the series had run its course.
Next up was S.W.A.T season 4 which tackled some hard hitting issues and is going from strength to strength with each season. It wasn’t the only show that covered the racial tensions growing in the US, however, it was the only one that I watched that was in the unique position of having a black male protagonist in charge of an elite police unit. It was a difficult season to watch knowing that it was just a TV show based on reality, and reality is even worse. I hope it opened people’s eyes.
Other crime shows I watched were:
I then watched Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol. The books aren’t my sort of books, although the themes and concepts are my kind of thing, especially as an Art History grad. I’ve watched the film adaptations over the years so when I spotted this new TV Show I decided to give it a watch, and while it was quite interesting, the plot was extremely predictable. I see now why people say that the third book was not as a good as his previous. Nonetheless, it had good characters and acting, so I’ll be checking out the second season.
While visiting my parents I saw them watching the new season of Doctor Who (season 13) so when I got home it was high on my list! I’m not too sure about the new companion yet… his accent is quite off-putting. I feel terrible for saying it, but there are some accents that are just grating, and a thick scouser accent is one of them. He also just seems to be so slow to pick up on things compared to previous companions. I don’t know if they’re going for the “common man” element or the comedy one, but personally, it just doesn’t work for me. It didn’t help that they paired his appearance with that alien, and now I just think of him as a big shaggy puppy.
Disney + ran a free trial for their anniversary, so I grabbed that and finished off Star Wars Rebels at last (there were lots of tears). We’re keeping the subscription going for a bit, so we can catch up on Marvel and Star Wars as we’re SO behind.
It was while I was using the BBC iPlayer that I spotted Superman & Lois available to watch at last! I’d heard that the BBC had picked it up, which seemed random at first since they have not picked up any of the other DC shows until I recalled that they were the ones who aired The New Adventures of Superman back in the 90s when I was a kid. It didn’t surprise me to find that they even put it in the same time slot at 5:30pm on a Saturday. What did surprise me is they also put the whole season up to stream, so I was able to binge my most anticipated show of the year in one go! My thoughts? They’re an entire post long so look out for that if you’re interested. I will say, overall positive, just lots of questions.
Film wise I did pretty well these past six months, and much better this year in general. We got a good deal on our NOW cinema package, so I’ve been making a point to actually use it and considering how much a cinema ticket costs these days, I’ve definitely got my money’s worth.
In the past six months I’ve watched:
- Knives out
- The Upside
- Me Before You
- Bad Boys for Life
- The Fundamentals of Caring
- The Old Guard
- The New Mutants
- Wonder Woman 1984
- Wrinkle in Time
- The Christmas Chronicles 2
- Free Guy
- Red Notice
I also rewatched The Muppets Christmas Carol, Shrek and Shrek 2 – Chris’ mum had never watched Shrek so of course we had to watch them. There’s a good chance the next one will be our New Year’s Day film.
A few thoughts:
I’ll be talking about the films with disabled representation in more detail over the next few months, but all I will say is that Me Before You is absolutely disgusting. Anyone who watched it/read the original book and thought it was “romantic” or “sweet” is extremely ignorant and ableist.
The Old Guard was brilliant, and I can’t wait for the second one. Wonder Woman 1984 was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be after hearing everyone criticise it so much. It was not as good as the first, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the fascination with a Wrinkle in Time; pretty costumes, however, the plot just wasn’t great. Hamilton was stunning. The Christmas Chronicles 2 was as fun as the first. Free Guy was… odd and also interesting. I’m not sure where I stand on it to be honest, but I definitely see why people like Jodie Comer; she was on fire! I like that they got real streamers in it, I just wish that the female streamers had better lines. Most of the time all they said was “OMG he’s so hot!” and to be honest, that says a lot about the streamers themselves that they accepted such degrading roles in a film. Red Notice; amazing.
As I write this I’m five items away from completing my GoodReads reading challenge of 200 for 2021. I’m not worried 🙂
I am completely behind on my personal reading reviews, and I reviewed 50 books during that time. That’s too many to share in this post so I’m just going to share a few of my favourites!
I’ve chosen my favourite book from each month:
I finally dyed my hair purple! It’s something I have always wanted to do, and I’ve been too scared to do it because it involved bleaching it. I’d heard so many horror stories about what bleach can do to your hair and so on, and I had to work past my anxiety to realise that so many people bleach and colour their hair regularly. Initially the plan was to get it done professionally and right as the pandemic started I actually contacted a hairdresser who told me she was just stopping home visits (much easier for me with my disabilities) due to what was going on. This was just as we were all realising how serious everything was.
For two years I’ve struggled between waiting and just doing it at home. I even brought a bleach, and have had the hair dye sitting there for several years from when I dyed it previously. With my trip to London looming I knew I had to just do it; my hair was really grey and looked awful, and I didn’t want to visit somewhere I felt uncomfortable while feeling even less confident in how I looked.
I tried to do it myself, and when Chris saw how badly I was failing at it, he took over /facepalm I couldn’t have done it without him. He was amazing. It took two applications of bleach to cover all my hair, which we did in sections because my hair is SO THICK. Then his mum put the dye on for me.
I was dreaded how I’d look blonde because my hair is so naturally dark, but I actually got used to it! What do you think?
As I mentioned we headed down to London in November and spent twelve days down there. It was like being in a completely different world. I thought that some people were being lax in Scotland about wearing masks outside of public places/transport, but down in England it was as though everyone had forgotten a pandemic had even happened. I get that we need to move on, that society can’t freeze up and wait this thing out, however, acting like it doesn’t exist either is just foolish.
A few days after we got back the new variant was flooding the headlines, and after seeing only a few people other than us wearing masks? I’m not shocked at all. We only went out a handful of times, wore masks the whole time and stayed well away from people as much as possible. Not the most interesting visit, but we were there to visit family more than anything. It had been two years or more since I’d seen my parents.
We have quite alternative Christmases due to our health conditions, nice and easy. The most stressful part of our day is making Christmas dinner and even then we don’t go overboard with it. It’s more a case of juggling what needs to go into the oven when. This year Christmas was even more on the down low because a week before Christmas our boiler decided to break! Yup, we’ve been without hot water and heating for almost two weeks now. Thankfully our house is very good at keeping warm, so our fire and a few heaters, plus jumpers is keeping us going. One of our cats, George, is struggling more with the cold as he’s very fine furred, and we think he has delicate bones too. So we set him up a little blanket fort in front of the fire and that seems to have done the trick!
Thankfully we found out that our dishwasher and washing machine heat themselves, so we’re able to still use those, but I’m seriously missing a shower. Alternate washing methods are extremely awkward when you’ve just got a kettle to warm the water :-/ While this has been the worst thing to happen, it’s not been the only thing, and I’m seriously glad we chose not to put decorations up this year. Neither of us have the energy to take them down!
Fortunately Christmas was already planned for my mother-in-law’s house, so everything going wrong didn’t scupper those plans.
Well you’ve made it to the end! Thank you for sticking with me and reading all about my adventures and tribulations over the last six months. I hope you all had a lovely holidays and wish you all the best for the new year!
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