I’ve been very quiet on Limberation because I’ve been extremely busy. I’ve retired and moved. BIG life change it is too!
My plan was to keep working until I was 70. My body has been saying, “Maybe not”. Not that I am in constant pain, I’m not. And I want to stay that way. Regular readers will have noticed my articles about energy use and pacing. Two very important aspects to managing my condition and retaining my mobility, function and independence.
By April of this year I had reached the point where I was seriously considering how long I could keep working. It seemed I didn’t have enough energy to work AND exercise enough: #MovementIsMedicine. Of course, simply getting older plays a part in this as well and there is not a lot I can do about the passage of time.
When my name came up on the right list for retirement housing (yes, I had been planning ahead, I was on waiting lists) I made the decision. Retirement was the way to go. The decision involved a lot of work though – energy I really was struggling to find. Writing was definitely put on the backburner. Working through phasing me out of my position in a job I love. Organising the actual move – and the move date got moved twice, just to complicate matters. The move also meant downsizing and that was work. I am typing this on my dining table, not my very large corner desk with a return on each side that I used to have! Packing took more energy. To top it off I got a temperature that hung around for six weeks and towards the end of that six weeks, a tooth infection. The temperature involved a lot of blood tests, some CT scans and several doctors visits. More energy needed. We now think the temperature and the tooth were connected, but initially I didn’t have any tooth pain, therefore we didn’t realise.
It wasn’t just me either. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, my nephew needed stents and my daughter and her husband got Covid-19. There was an attempted identity theft/fraud on an account of mine which had to be sorted as well – I caught it as it was happening, so no losses. Everything was happening at once.
Back to why I retired. I used to be able to walk before work, walk at lunch time and walk after work. I was struggling to find the energy to get dressed before work, let alone walk before work. This wasn’t good for the management of my psoriatic arthritis. I wasn’t being consistent in my exercise either. My weight training had dropped to once a week – I was not happy about that. As a result I was experiencing an increasing number of minor flares and I didn’t want any major flares! I had already cut my working hours from 30 hours per week to 24 hours per week, but the days I worked I was still struggling to do the movement I need, therefore I was losing the consistency.
It seemed if I did the exercise and physical therapy I need to do, I was too tired to work, and if I worked, I was too tired to maintain my exercise regime. Maintaining my health as best as I possibly can is critical to quality of life. I love working, but it reached the point where I could no longer have my cake and eat it too.
Should those of us with chronic conditions make this decision earlier if we can? It is a huge decision. There are the financial implications of course. There may be housing implications as well. The age pension age keeps getting further and further away……. The disability pension (for younger patients) is almost unattainable these days. Women around my age may not have a lot of super (if any) due to the particular decades we worked through, there was no paid maternity leave for many of us and so on.
Yet more and more of the population live with chronic conditions of some sort. We have to make hard decisions about how we manage our lives. I became eligible for the age pension the year before I finally bit the bullet and retired. I am still working as a casual for my employer but minimal hours.
I believe I have made the right decision for my health. Without health, other aspects of our life may suffer: relationships, work, mental health to name just three. Do we try to “keep going” too long, or longer than we should? I’m thinking not just of now, but in ten years time. I want to give myself the best chance of minimising deterioration NOW so I can maintain quality of life in my seventies and eighties. We need to look ahead, not just at tomorrow or next week. Our modern medications, as fantastic as they are, don’t solve everything.
What am I going to do with all this “spare” time? Naturally, I’ve set myself some physical goals: swimming, weight training, walking goals. I will pace up to those goals. Find more unusual flowers!
I will write more. I will get back to my parking permit project. I will finish unpacking, cull my shoe collection.
Paint my nails! Of course!
This first week of full retirement has been psychologically challenging. I hadn’t had time to really prepare myself for the change of lifestyle and then there it was, happening. My advice would be if you can plan ahead, do so.
So that is it. I am retired. A different phase of life.
Bring it on!