Early Retirement Multiple Sclerosis and Moving Forward
This is my personal story of what it is like to tackle critical stages of life while dealing with a disease like Multiple Sclerosis. Early retirement, MS, and moving forward can become a case of the good, the bad and the ugly. Still I am convinced that the positives outweigh the negatives and a reward is waiting for every challenge faced.
My Husband's Retirement
Finally after working hard for thirty plus years, my dear husband was able to take an early retirement. What an answer to a prayer these past few months have been for both of us. Our ages have had accompanying physical challenges. Diabetes is my husband's primary health issue. Multiple Sclerosis is my challenge. The last five years of employment had not been easy years to work full time. The worst of all turned out to be the last two years of his career as an electrician. We cried figurative tears of joy when he finally met all the qualifications needed to retire.
Freedom to be Sick
As I write this it occurs to me how strange it reads. However, one of the positives we instantly experienced was the freedom to just be sick. I don't think sickness is viewed as a freedom by most people, but I do know that anyone who has ever had to work while sick understands how freeing it is when the stress of reporting to work -sick- is gone.
In our case, we spent the same amount of time worrying about each other as we spent worrying about our individual illnesses. I worried when I knew my husband was trying to work full time when his body was begging for a break. He worried about my daily existence and how I would make it through the day without him when I was having one of my typical "MS" days.
I found myself missing him more and more during the tough days. Having someone willing to do the cooking and other necessary things takes pressure off a chronically ill person. Having the company of my best friend on a constant basis was very reassuring and did much to lift my spirits. Needless to say I am presently very happy that my days are no longer chopped up in blocks where he is home but then has to return to work.
We are presently in the process of moving forward both figuratively and literally. Preparing for a change of location and moving to another state is no easy achievement. We have never wanted to settle down before, but that restlessness changed once we both hit our "fifties". So for the first time in our thirty plus years of marriage we are looking for a place to call our own.
What should be a fun and exciting time has been met with resistance from my constant companion and faithful sidekick, MS. Although we have picked the healthiest time of year for me, eighteen years of MS has still taken a toll on my ability to participate in the moving process. More than once, I have recalled the good old days when I could pack up our belongings almost single-handily then move and then unpack those same belongings in record speed. This go-round my husband has done the vast majority of the packing as I hang out on the sidelines pitching in very little in incredibly small increments. Another example of the good, the bad and the downright ugliness of this stage of our lives.
Determined to give all that I have has enabled me to find valuable ways to contribute without totally exhausting myself.
- I write online and receive wages for my work. Not much but enough to enable me to pay a couple of important but small bills.
- I use Internet sources wherever possible. Since I do not have the ability to run and check out houses and locations, I have learned to use online housing and real estate sites to their fullest potential. I write at another site which has been a great help in teaching me the ins and outs of the real estate market.
- We have agreed to schedule the most important tasks that needs my participation and play everything else by ear. Instead of pushing myself to get things done, I wait for my body to tell me I am having a good day and then allow myself to conquer something on my to-do list.
- Accepting the help of my family and friends will prove invaluable in the coming days. I have already received offers to help us pack and move our items and I have unashamedly accepted them all. I would do the same for my friends if circumstances were reversed so the gift of their time and physical energy is one I am very happy to accept.
In the Days to Come
We are not ignorant of the fact that we are taking on two stressful conditions at the same time. Waiting to find out about financing a home is INSANE! Retirement takes on a totally different meaning and outlook for us individually and as a married couple. While the retirement is a positive, the moving is a mixed blessing. Excitement and irritation seem to go side-by-side.
Still, it is teaching me patience which is a lesson I constantly need to learn. So that's a plus. I have accepted the fact that I won't be of much physical help and am slowly but surely realizing that my best is good enough under my present health challenges.
Retirement, MS and moving forward is quite the mix, but I have found it comes with a variety of blessings and rewards, so it is worth all the effort. It has not been as scary or exhausting as I feared. I discovered I am "still kicking" although not as high as in previous days and that is okay.