Health: an unexpected reason for retirement.

My Unplanned Retirement Story: Health

Dixie's Floating Home on the Columbia River
Our Floating Home on the Columbia River

I retired at age 57. As I said, I’m 72.  I didn’t plan to retire then.  Unplanned retirement reason? Health.

I loved my Marketing Director position, the people I worked with, the company I worked for and the comaraderie for and with co-workers and moorage neighbors.

My husband and I also loved living in our floating home on the Columbia River in Portland Oregon. It was a great adventure that we took after both children were college graduates and married.

Having said that: We relocated from our jobs in Dallas, Texas and moved to Portland, Oregon. We enjoyed the calmer lifestyle, floating on the river and the shorter/easier commute to work. We loved boating, exploring, and doing fun stuff with others in our floating home community of 75 homes.

After a few years,  I became ill and performing my job became difficult. Already thin, I developed “late in life onslaught Type 1, insulin sensitive “brittle” diabetes. Shocker. My life went haywire. After three years living our wonderful Oregon experience, I went from not even suspecting that my pancreas had totally stopped producing insulin to 6 injections a day. And I was “out of control.”

Fast Forward: Retirement Phase 1 and Phase 2

Phase 1

Together my husband and I ended up deciding that we couldn’t predict the future but we could lower our cost of living if we sold our house, boat, cars and stored our “stuff” in a storage unit.  We bought a  36′ motor home and “full timed” for 18 months (also a learning experience).  By then, I found that the Medtronic insulin pump I was prescribed greatly improved the quality of my life; in fact saved my life. Kind of an “almost pancreas.”I’m a big champion of the Medtronic insulin pump, a 72 year old ‘poster child’ so to say.

As the pump helped me lower my HbA1c level from dangerous levels to barely acceptable levels, we realized that life could return to a sense of normal.  We weren’t retirement age and we had not expected to retire before 65.  We were paying the very expensive COBRA insurance premiums that are offered for only 18 months after leaving employment.  COBRA keeps coverage uninterrupted.

Following the 18 month period, COBRA expired so we sold the motor home and found a house in Northern California but within a two hour drive from our daughter’s family in Southern Oregon. This was Phase 2 of our unplanned retirement.  We retrieved our “stuff” from storage.  My husband took an an entre’ retail job where he could qualify for health insurance and I started a Marketing Consulting business from home.

Phase 1 & 2 of 5 phases in our retirement. Living full-time in a motor home.

Full Time motor home for 18 month
Full Time motor home for 18 months

Not a retirement that we planned for sure.  But when ‘life gives you lemons’ as the saying goes,, ‘you make lemonade.

We traveled from coast to coast visiting family and friends, checking in with doctors along the way.

While travelling, we took a page out of Richard N. Bolles’ book “What Color is your Parachute? , a job and career book.  My husband and I discussed a series of questions about self-discovery.

Though Bolles’ book is aimed at job changing and finding the right career path for you, we used it, while driving several thousand miles to outline a little post retirement self-discovery plan for us…therefore Phase 2 of our retirement.

Currently, we are on Phase 5 of our retirement and I am currently on my 6th Medtronic pump and still say it “saved my life.”  That little medical “hitch in my get-a-long” was the unexpected catalyst for retirement.

Remember what I said about flexibility?  After three years in Northern California, partially retired, we decided to move to Southwest Florida where we experienced and enjoyed a few months during the winter while we were living our motor home experience.  We found out that relocating to a new neighborhood/area at retirement age created a challenge in finding a social life without the benefit of jobs and the affiliations that come with them.  We decided we needed to live in a community of 55+ active adults.  That started Phase 3.  It was the answer for us…until life intervened.

Phase 3, 4 and 5

But that’s another story, another phase,and another blog post.  The point is, and we’ve said it before, “remain flexible”… one of the keys to happiness.  The other point is to contingency plan. The research and experiences above sowed some of the seeds that resulted in our website and our Baby Boomer’s Non-Financial Guide to Retirement…50 Tips to Freedom!

Thanks for stopping by,  Dixie

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Dixie & Pam

Dixie and Pam started our blog 09/16/16. Our blog provides information for anyone interested in Positive Aging and planning for a happy and fulfilled life after their career. Information includes, active adult activities, travel, stress management, health, happiness, relationships, where to live, how to explore and Learning New Things.

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