On April 8, 2013, after several months of chemo, I had surgery to remove my bladder and reconstruct a new one. My daughter texted me this morning to see how I was feeling about it. Honestly, I have not thought about it much this week.. I believe going from three month check-ups for the past three years to every six months this past year has taken it off the front burner for me.
I feel no emotions about this anniversary other than how it has impacted my relationships. I don’t fear my scans. I just set up my next check-up this past week for late June and I will not be nervous for the results because cancer was just the catalyst that changed a lot of things in my life. When I talk about those changes, particularly relationships and giving back, that is when the emotions are ever-present and quick to be triggered.
Yes, I am grateful to be cancer-free and I am grateful that my new bladder actually works, but most importantly I feel blessed to have been able to walk away from a great job and career to follow God’s call for a new purpose in my life.
A Boomer In Transition
This has been a tough winter. It seems like I just get over one bug and I catch another one. And yes, I had my flu shot, I wash my hands every third week, I take my vitamins, eat reasonably well, blah, blah, blah, blah. Maybe I need to go back to work full time when it seemed like I rarely got sick?
Amidst this winter of illness, I also started to feel bored for the first time since I retired. I had dropped teaching, which is very time-consuming if done right and I have been praying about what to fill that time with. I have been forcing myself to practice patience and not just jump into something, which would be all too easy for me to do.
Then the phone started to ring. It was Tuesday afternoon and I was getting ready to take my sister to the doctor when I get a phone call from a friend who was just diagnosed with cancer. I talked with this friend for about half an hour and agreed to pray and talk again in the next couple of days. Then while, with my sister at the doctor, I got a call that my mom had a health episode that landed her in the Emergency Room. I was about 75 miles away at the time, so I dropped off my sister, and headed to the hospital. I ended up staying with my parents overnight and then driving back to guest lecture at two classes on Wednesday morning (I am not sure if it is advisable to teach two 70 minute classes back to back on 2 hours sleep). Then I drove back to my parents and stayed with them until the health episode was resolved enough to allow them to be on their own. By the time I got home on Wednesday night I was exhausted. Then the phone rang again. This time it was a newly diagnosed bladder cancer patient who was having surgery in two days and had several questions for me. I talked to him for over a half an hour and then dropped into bed.
And this is only part of the story and part of the week. I am writing all of this detail, because maybe this is how I am supposed to be filling my time – taking care of other people. Then the phone rang again. Now it was Thursday and I was offered a short term consulting engagement. Had the previous two days not happened, I may have said “yes”. I think this week was a reminder of what I am supposed to do.
A Boomer In Transition
Our son Dan broke his arm biking last Saturday on a rare 60 degree February day in Minnesota. Over the past week, we have spent a lot of time in Urgent Care, in an appointment with a surgeon, figuring out how to wear a long sleeve dress shirt and suit over a sling so he could attend a job fair, and yesterday in surgery to repair the arm.
Over the past four years, it seems like I have been more often on the receiving end of care and even though I would not wish a broken arm on anyone, especially one of our kids, it has been rewarding and bonding to be able to be one of the caregivers. I am sure Tammie feels the same way, having Dan stay at our house the past couple of days so we can help him pre and post surgery. He is usually very self-sufficient and likes to figure things out on his own, so having him “let” us help him has been a blessing for both of us. One of the things I have personally learned about illness or injury is that it tends to knock the self-sufficiency gene down a peg or two, giving others the opportunity to help.
BTW, if you need help at 4 am, I am your guy. Early mornings are my best time and it goes downhill from there. So, being at the surgery center at 4:36 am, before the medical staff arrived, was my idea of a good start to the day.
In retirement, the schedule (such as it is), can be quickly trashed and it can be all-hands on deck to help out in these kinds of situations. Yet another positive of being …
A Boomer In Transition (Dean)
So, a week ago, we spent some time in the Florida Keys. We told everyone it is vacation, but I felt weird about saying that word. Do you use that word if you are retired? I asked several retirees if they used the word vacation and it seems to be the consensus, so I just need to get over it. Plus, my wife is not retired, so it really was a vacation for her.
BTW, we had a great time and enjoyed the very chill pace of the Keys. It was not hard to take upper 70’s weather either. We did get a late start on our vacation since we got caught in another Delta computer outage and after several hours of making new friends at the airport we found out that our flight was actually cancelled. We stood in a line for a couple more hours with our newfound friends and rebooked for the next day. Since I have free time on my hands, I was able to convince Delta to give us a lot of miles and other freebies so essentially our flights were free. On the way back, we had another delay as they could not find our plane at the airport. They knew it was at the airport, and after switching our gate 3 times in about 15 minutes, they eventually found it. Since this was vacation, and I no longer spend much time at the airport, I found it to be more amusing than frustrating.
Good article in the WSJ a few days ago about retirement. I found it to be on point. For example, they asked several retirees if they spend 80% of their pre-retirement annual spending now that they are in retirement. The answer was a resounding “No.” They spend the same, just on different things. I believe this is true and that planners should use 100% when they do retirement planning, if not 105%. Maybe that rule of thumb was ok when people retired at 65, sat in a recliner for 3 years and then died at 68, but it is clear that retirees now generally lead a much more active retirement and that includes actively spending money.
Time to walk to dog.
A Boomer In Transition
Ok, so it’s only the 6th day of 2017, but so far my best decision in the new year has been to dump my FB account. I am not picking on FB, as it can be an effective way to share what is going on in your life, but it can also be habit forming and a source of too much negativity creeping into your life. At least that was true for me, and I don’t miss it one bit!
So far so good on nutrition and exercise. No pop or chocolate so far in 2017. And I upped my workout intensity when training on my own. In a book I have been reading (and I have already read two in 2017), there is an interesting observation that many elite athletes listen to just one song and repeat, repeat, repeat the song throughout the workout. Apparently it helps them get in a “zone.” I have been trying this and there is something to it.
I have been reading articles recently about positivity and gratitude. One I just read this morning talked about focusing less on “me” and more on others. There are numerous articles that can easily be found online on this topic and most have this common theme of “focusing on or helping others.” There is something to this as well. For example, yesterday, I talked to two people I have been mentoring through the early days of their cancer journey’s, one who is post-surgery and recovering at home and another who is at the hospital this morning getting prepped for surgery. In both cases, I felt like I could be an encourager (not a natural gift of mine) and help with tangible guidance. Nothing else I did yesterday made me feel as positive or grateful as these interactions.
One last point. I do not mind the cold, but this morning was very cold! Minus 9 degrees without the windchill and the dog was limping around and crying after just 30 seconds outside. This morning I am grateful for a warm home!
A Boomer In Transition