Retirement

Well, we did it. Attila is safe at home. He retired. It is surreal.

Attila retired without a pension other than CPP, which doesn’t add up to much. But here we are, where we want to be, with who we want to be with, and that, in the end, was more important to us than other kinds of luxuries.

The drop in income is shocking. Our income is half of what it was before his retirement, and it won’t pay the bills. It will be quite a while before Attila is eligible for old age security, which would be a big boost for us, and after which we can probably pay the monthly bills. We saved and calculated what it would take to cover the shortfall for this time of financial drought, and we will be able to squeak by. Another huge concern is health care coverage, Attila has none now. His medications are quite costly, so we had to work that expense into our plans until he is eligible for senior’s health care support. Frugal is too gentle a word to describe how we will live for the next few years.

My aneurysm tipped the scale in making this decision. The anaphylaxis was difficult enough to deal with, affecting all aspects of our lives, as it affected Attila by proxy. With the anaphylaxis we could create a safe environment for me to live in, without fear. This is not true of the aneurysm. It is a frightening condition, and there are few lifestyle adaptations that will alleviate the danger. I could suffer a rupture (right now unlikely), an event with a 20% survival rate, but the aneurysm is growing, and risk increases through time. We have to consider the qualities of the nearby hospital, it does not seem to understand the urgency of possible rupture, so if I do rupture, I will probably die there because they won’t diagnose it promptly. The last time I sought assistance and an ultrasound scan to ensure it was not due to a rupture, I waited over four hours to see a doctor and get the scan, I was not monitored for the first two hours, or after I disconnected to go to the washroom. I feel my chance of survival in the event of a rupture is very much lower than 20%. All this to say, that our time together is extremely precious, and that fact was hammered home when the aneurysm grew significantly last year.

I find it interesting to compare how I feel about this cessation of work, and the cessation we experienced during the Covid lockdown. Both include an element of threat to life. During the pandemic lockdown we took measures to protect ourselves, and although we experienced fear, we also experienced a sense of agency. With the aneurysm there is a threat only to my life, and a threat of significant loss and grief for Attila.

The feelings involved during the Covid lockdown, and the aneurysm growth, are distinctly different. Agency is the difference. During the pandemic we could take steps to keep ourselves safe, with the aneurysm there are few steps to be taken (I am taking them all and then some, as I err on the side of caution). So for me, the feeling of agency in relation to survival, is absent in this cessation of work.

So, how do we actually feel about this big life event?

Optimistic.

I am spending time looking into all the possible support programs for low income seniors, and applying for every one that we are eligible for, it is almost a full time job, but well worth the effort. We feel confident that we can pay our bills, as long as we don’t overreach financially.

Attila is relieved not be in a noisy, dangerous environment every work day. He will be able to sleep until he awakens naturally, drink when he is thirsty, stop physical activity when he experiences pain, avoid driving when the roads are bad, and avoid dealing with extreme personalities on a daily basis. Attila will be able to approach projects differently, and not have to spend all of his time in the evenings, and on weekends, trying to get things done. Attila will be able to cook, and he loves to cook.

Me, I will be able to sleep until I awaken naturally, will be able to seek out and speak to Attila any time I want to talk to him, will have someone to help me with projects that involve lifting (which I cannot safely do anymore), and will have someone to share a walk with. The list goes on, all good.

There are a few challenges that I have taken note of this weekend. We both cook and preserve, the kitchen is shared, I am not the boss in the kitchen, nor is Attila. When he worked full time I vacated the kitchen in the evenings so that he could pursue his cooking. I, in turn, had the whole day to do as I pleased alone in the kitchen while Attila was at work.

With him at home now, sharing becomes more important. We have learned to move around each other without thinking as we both work in the kitchen, so that skill has already been developed. Timing our cooking projects is going to take a little while to get worked out. For instance, yesterday Attila wanted to cook potatoes in the instant pot for a curry dish he wanted to make, and I wanted to use the instant pot to make vegetable soup for my lunches, so we had to spend some time figuring out when and how we would use the instant pot, and arrange our work flow in the small kitchen. I found I was a bit grumpy about it! Attila was tolerant. Grumpy won’t do of course, and eventually we will just take this sort of thing into account as we plan our days.

I think we are going to love retirement.

My underlying foundation of daily life has shifted. The structure of days, and nights has altered. Attila is so very relieved to be retired and he is enjoying the experience, the benefits and freedom are so much more profound for him than they are for me. I have been retired for some time, but not fully because I have followed Attila’s schedule, lived by his work restrictions, until now. The change for me is in my familiar daily environment, my contextual change is more subtle.

I thought I would feel elated, but I do not. I feel challenged to create a new foundation of daily life, to master a new and effective approach to paying the bills on a much different basis than in the past, to find a comfortable new flow of daily life. I will give myself time to establish approaches to the new challenges, and let it sink in that Attila will be here with me, he isn’t going anywhere.

Worldly

Weather

Updated on Sun, Apr 21 at 11:37 AM
8°C
FEELS LIKE 4
Partly cloudy
Wind 24 W km/h
Humidity 45 %
Visibility 26 km
Sunrise 6:13 AM
Wind gust 36 km/h
Pressure 101.4 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 7:59 PM

Quote

“Remember when life’s path is steep to keep your mind even.”
Horace
65 BC – 8 BC

Note: At present there our path is not steep, there are a few potholes I’ve been stepping into, so this is good advice for me!

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Sandy

Congratulations to you and Attila Maggie! I know this is a happy decision for you in many ways. but it also presents some new challenges, I have no doubt you’ll overcome the challenges. Can they eventually operate to take the aneurysm out? If you wanted to, could you work part time at an online work at home job? I hope you can find a nearby hospital and doctor who can be your main contact in case there are any problems with the aneurysm. On a side note, is there a way to get notifications to your blog when someone posts a new post or a reply? I only get a notification when you post the original post. Thank you!

Last edited 1 month ago by Sandy
Maggie Turner

Thank you Sandy! Change always brings new challenges, we are up for it!
Although finding work might be financially necessary, we are going to try tightening our belts first.
The AAA, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
The abdominal aortic aneurysm is referred to by vascular surgeons as one of the deadliest conditions. I don’t take it lightly, even if the triage nurses choose to.
An aortic aneurysm is, basically a weak wall in the aorta, which can rupture. For women, when the size of weak area reaches 5 cm, it is considered large enough that the risk of surgery is equal to the risk of rupture.
Unfortunately women have a much higher death rate with AAA surgeries, I think because they have to wait too long for the life saving surgery, their aortas are smaller, so that they are much older by the time they can get the surgery, and the risks of surgery are much greater. There is research going on in the UK to see if surgery at 4 cm will save the lives of more women, but it may not be completed in my lifetime.
There are two kinds of surgeries.
“Open surgery and endovascular repair are the 2 main types of surgery to repair an aneurysm. During open surgery, a surgeon makes a large cut in your belly or chest. The surgeon then replaces the damaged part of the aorta with a graft.
Endovascular repair uses a much smaller incision than open surgery. Because of this, it has a lower risk of complications. It may benefit older adults who have a higher risk of complications. It can also lead to faster recovery. Not all aneurysms can be treated with endovascular repair. Your provider will talk with you about the treatment that will work best for you.”
Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/endovascular-repair-of-an-abdominal-aortic-aneurysm
Although endovascular surgery sounds like a miracle, the grafts often leak, sometimes fail, get infected… it can be easy peasy for life, and it can be difficult for life, it isn’t all roses for everyone. It will mean annual scans for life.
Open surgery is what some vascular surgeons call “the mother of all surgeries”, it is a very serious operation, but the result, if you live through it, is that you will have no further issues with that section of your aorta. (They temporarily move out all of your intestines etc. to access the aorta
My surgeon is talking endovascular, and there are other factors that are being considered due to the particular profile of my aneurysm.
I feel if I can get to the stage of surgery alive, I’ve got a good chance of survival.
As far as the hospital is concerned, we will drive over an hour to a nearby city with a vascular department, I feel I have a better chance of survival where there are vascular surgeons on staff.

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Eileen

Congrats on Attila’s retirement! Hoping you are able to find resources to lighten your financial load. Hugs!

Cathy

Hello there – well as you’ve said, change is going to be your constant companion for a while to come. It sounds like a good change for both of you even if it’s one to be worked through with lots of patience on both sides
I smiled at your reference to grumpy – there was lots of ‘grumpy’ here when we went through this same change. Much walking away from each other and returning to work out our differences. Now your weather is changing you’ll be able to spend a little less time right there beside each other (indoors) every day. Fresh air and sunshine are great healers of different points of views
Good luck with this new stage of your lives Maggie.

Joan Lansberry

Congratulations on the retirement. Less stress will over all be better, as long as the financial challenges can be meant. In the States, we can begin social security at age 62 or wait up until 67, for a slightly bigger monthly payment.

Maggie Turner

Thanks Eileen! Although our belts will be tightened, we are together and happy and healthy for now at least, so we will be making the most of our time together! Hugs!

Maggie Turner

Cathy, thank you for your kind wishes!
You are right, this is a good change for both of us, even if I do get a little bit grumpy now and then, lol. And as you point out, the onset of spring weather is great time to take on this transition, Attila has spent a lot of time in the yard already, this weekend. The walking away and returning to work things out is such a good approach to working things out. I am grateful that Attila can tolerate a bit of grumpiness on my part, I apologize, and he graciously accepts my apologies, then we carry on.

Maggie Turner

Thanks Joan!
In Canada we can apply to receive the Canada Pension Plan. CPP, at the age of 60, it is not an amount of money that an individual could survive on. At the age of 65 seniors become eligible for the Old Age Security, OAS, in addition to CPP.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC has referred to the combined income of CPP and OAS as “supplementary income”. This stance is disappointing from a national broadcasting institution, and I feel it is an insensitive and uninformed statement, as so many rely on these things as their sole source of income.
But we feel we can manage, because we have been very lucky in so many ways. It will just take some time to work out the flow of it, that will be the challenge.

Teri

Woohoo! Congrats to you both on Attila’s retirement! We had to tighten our belts for a few years too, but it was definitely worth it to have DH home when his employer was ready to start bringing people back from working at home.

If things do start getting tight paying for medications, you might talk to your doctors about possibly getting samples. I know of people who had their meds provided by the doctors from samples given out by the pharmaceutical companies. Sometimes there are also groups that will help fund medications.

Enjoy your endless weekend! 😉