The high price of forced early retirement

Being forced into early retirement by a disability of any kind may sound “lucky” to most people, but they often do not know the high price that was paid for early retirement.

Living the dream?

It was probably within the first year after surviving an ischemic stroke to my spinal cord.  The injury, which my memoir “it Doesn’t Define Me” goes into detail about and my fight to get my life back, robbed me of my ability to run. walk or even stand along with other lovely parting gifts.

I was still in a wheelchair and needing a lot of help just to get by in the world.

Someone who was chatting with me one afternoon said something to the effect “Gosh you are so lucky to have retried early in life”.

On one hand, I can imagine that when he thought about me being in early retirement that my life must be great.  After all, he probably felt envy as he thought that I could sleep in every day, travel when I want to, do what I want to do, and have the ability to do all those things most people must wait until they are over sixty while I was young enough to really enjoy it.

On the other hand, what he did not see through his envious green eyes was the high price I paid for early retirement.

What I gave up (either temporarily or indefinitely) for early retirement,

I had to give up…

  • my ability to run
  • my ability to stand
  • my ability to even stand on my own.
  • control of my bladder
  • the ability to speak without having to struggle to find the right words.

The largest price I paid was the loss of my complete independence.  Sure, there were a few things that I could do for myself, and today there is even more, but still I needed help getting around when most people at my age didn’t.

I would gladly and without any hesitation trade in my “early retirement” if it means I could erase all the damage and loss I endured from my ischemic stroke to my spinal cord.