Not so silent spring

I’ve become really fed up with lockdown. Join the club, I hear you say!

Yes, I’m as frustrated as you about not being able to get out and about, give loved ones a hug or see clients face-to-face. But my particular complaint is about the noise!

Lots of people have been commenting on social media about how much quieter the world is since the pandemic took hold and we were required to shelter in place. That’s certainly true as far as transport goes. There are much fewer cars on the road, and I think I’ve seen one chem trail from a plane in five weeks. And I swear I can hear more birdsong than usual.

But I’m still grumpy.

I’m blessed in that my office is based at home. When the weather is as glorious as in recent weeks I’ve been able to take my laptop out into the garden and enjoy working in the warmth, with a sunbathing dog by my side.

Not these past weeks. Step outside the back door and I’m assaulted by the sound of power saws and angle grinders as my stay-at-home neighbours repair decking, lay patios and build raised beds. I can barely hear myself think.*

So I’ve had to ditch working outside, and venture into the garden to top up my tan join up my freckles only at lunchtime and for the odd coffee break.

You might think I’m being a bit overdramatic, but exposure to loud noise can have serious consequences for our ears.

Noise can damage the hair cells in our cochlea, resulting in a hearing loss at certain frequencies. That can last for only a couple of days or it can be permanent. Even if it’s short-lived we shouldn’t just wipe our brow and think “phew got away with that”.

Temporary hearing loss is a sign that we shouldn’t expose our ears to that noise again, as next time the loss could be permanent. As I only have one working ear I’m super-keen not to lose any more hearing than I already have!

And the other consequence of course is tinnitus – causing it or making it worse. If you’re lucky, exposure to loud noise can leave you with ringing in your head for just a few days or weeks. But, as many people have found, it can also be permanent. And once you have tinnitus, like I do, loud noises often seem to aggravate it even further.

That’s why during these crazy weeks you’ll find me with some unusual accessories to my spring outfits – earplugs and ear defenders! I don’t wear them all the time I’m outside, but I have them close by so I’m ready when the industrial sander kicks off next door.

It’s not quite how I dreamed of spending sunny days. But then, life at the moment is very different to anything we expected. So maybe I just need to go with the flow and enjoy what brief periods of sunshine I can. This DIY phase can only be temporary, right? Right?

* Yes I am aware, this is a middle-class, first-world problem.