Al starts his morning by looking at the market. The stock market. You might have heard: today the news is not good. It has not been good for awhile. Al has been managing our financial portfolio, and since he retired, when there’s a bump and stocks go high for a day or an hour, he sells. We’re lucky. He’s sewn a cushion to blunt this blow for however long it lasts.
The television is on and we are watching the free fall. The market has closed! It’s going to open again in thirty seconds. I almost can’t write. I could go into the bedroom and write this post but I have a feeling I will keep watching the havoc on the television.
This is not a great time for retirees who have been keeping up with inflation by holding some of their funds in the stock market. The thing that caused it, COVID-19, is not good for us old people, either. At first I was sad, okay, we can’t take that Alaskan cruise. Then yesterday, we figured we probably shouldn’t stop in Dollywood on our way back to Michigan. In our car.
The television is talking about the government “saving the airlines” and I don’t understand it. Is this like the Wall Street bail out? And this morning, I wonder if COVID-19 will stop the kids from flying in for their scheduled visit in April. Mom was coming, too. Will my mother want to get on the plane at 81 years old? She’s not fond of planes in good times.
In my peaceful yoga class, a phone rang. Twice. I was happy I’d remembered to turn mine off, until class was over and my friend showed me the two calls she’d gotten…from people trying to reach me. My father had been calling all over town looking for me, as he needed a ride to the doctor. Right that minute.
I managed to rush home to shower and get him to his appointment on time. He was in a bit of a panic, so I didn’t understand what he meant after I asked him why he hadn’t told me he had a doctor appointment. I’d seen him just the other day. We’d talked for hours! He said something like “they call me last minute.”
I didn’t get it, he’d said the other day he had a doctor’s appointment Friday and he’d arranged to have an open MRI. He’d been so relieved. But this was Thursday and he was going into a closed MRI machine (Dad is claustrophobic). He needed a ride because he’d be taking a larger dose of anti-anxiety medication than he was used to and wouldn’t be able to drive.
I didn’t want to ask him anything else because he was panicky. It’s hard to talk sensibly when you’re having an anxiety attack. I just said soothing things and acted like everything was normal. He kept saying I was going the wrong way, but I had my GPS on it said we were five minutes away. I knew exactly how my dad was feeling because I’ve been there many times. We share the claustrophobia gene.
We got to the doctor and three hours later he was done. How did it go? I asked him. “It was horrible! They put something over my face. I slept almost the entire time.” That didn’t make a lot of sense, but I didn’t press him. I could tell his meds had kicked in big time.
I was not clear on what he was getting an MRI for…I thought it was for his knee? So why would a neurologist be doing that MRI? Shouldn’t an ortho guy do that? And then the prescription we stopped to have filled. He’d shown me six new prescriptions (!) the other day. I asked the pharmacist what this new one was for and he said restless leg syndrome. I didn’t know my dad had that.
I am worried about my dad’s doctor visits, his prescription use, his health. I want to do more to help him, like sit in with him on doctor visits and ask questions, take notes. Check his medication and make sure he takes the right pills every day. But I fear his reaction. What if he thinks I’m invading his privacy? Or treating him as if he is incompetent? Still, I’m going to talk to him about all this tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I also need to mail in my absentee ballot plus sign up for Medicare and Social Security. I need to do laundry and shop for groceries. Friends are coming over on Tuesday and staying the night, so I’ll be making another frittata. I just made one when we had overnight friends a few days ago. Then next weekend we are going out of town for a night and in two weeks we’re meeting up with friends in Savannah, Georgia for a long weekend. I’m looking forward to all of it, okay maybe not signing up for Medicare.
Retirement is not what I imagined. In my mind, I thought it would be relaxed and easy. It is not. It is hectic. Maybe someday things will slow down, but not yet. I am so happy to have Al to help and to lean on. I don’t know how I ever did this without him. He golfs with my dad twice a week, something I for sure could not do.
Oh, and my prescription coverage changed today. I’ve only had the new one for retirees two months. But the government put me on the Medicare one. Because it’s my birthday this month. Which is why I have to immediately sign up for Medicare. Yesterday the drugstore wanted $130 to refill a prescription that used to be $3.
If all this sounds a little scattered and confused, it’s because that’s how I feel right now. Like I need a list. Or maybe three or four lists. But I am also happy to be in Florida, to see a lot more of my friends, and to have early dinners with my dad in the warm sunshine. It really is good to be alive.
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Al’s retirement, sweet as it has been thus far, often triggers anxiety. I woke up from a nightmare in complete panic mode last night. Al said this morning that he heard a prolonged squeak from me, which I remembered was me trying to scream when a hand grabbed me in a dark room. The usual sleep paralysis didn’t allow me to move or scream out loud, but luckily I woke up. Not so lucky, I found myself in a full blown panic attack. This is not unusual, and I was able to control the panic with deep breathing instead of jumping out of bed and popping a Xanax. I fell back asleep without nightmares within minutes.
When I’m triggered by Al in the light of day, it’s different. I cope with his darker moods by taking .5 mg of Xanax. Before Al retired, my doctor and I talked about a likely increase in triggers. I would be traveling, and that’s a trigger. As much as I love travel, being a passenger makes me anxious. Then there was the unknown factor of how Al would behave in retirement. My doc suspected I’d have some bumps, because I’ve been in a smooth routine for so long.
I love my routines. What has not been a part of my routine for a long time is Al showing even a glimpse of annoyance or anger or talking for too long about taxes or insurance or the budget. He’s only human, and he does love finance. I promised I’d talk more about money with him when he retired. And I have been. I just need to pop a tiny dose of Xanax first.
For a few years now, I’ve been very gradually decreasing my Xanax dose from 4 mg a day to a current .5 mg with the goal of using Xanax only when necessary for panic attacks. So, in a way, Al’s retirement has been a bit of a setback. My doctor doesn’t want me to worry about it. She wrote a stronger script, knowing I’d need more like 1 mg a day, at least for awhile.
Anxiety is so stupid. But it’s real and I have to deal with it, because for me, anxiety is a precursor to panic. Anxiety almost always leads to panic if I don’t medicate. Or, have a martini.
I’d feel better about increasing my meds if there wasn’t a nasty side effect. Cognitive decline. Since increasing my medication I have noticed that oh boy do I forget things. My friends say stuff like “you mentioned that yesterday” and I can’t remember ever bringing “it” up. Al will say “we already talked about this” and I can’t remember. So, naturally, now I’m anxious about the cognitive decline. Which has been brought about by a really effective anxiety medication.
And so it goes. I hope to get a better handle on my mental health in the near future, but today I need to take a pill. We’re driving over a bridge across Tampa Bay to see friends. And bridges, especially over water, are always trouble for me. I feel sorry for Al, I really do. Neither one of us knew what he was taking on when we married. Which may be what’s making me anxious about his retirement. He will see a lot more of me, panic and all.
As I await my editor’s comments on the manuscript of Jane in St. Pete, my website and my life are undergoing some renovations. Life has a way of moving smooth and slow for a long time and then all at once everything is different. It’s kind of that way on the blog now. And for sure that way with Al in retirement. We are still getting alongs swimmingly here on the sunny and warm Gulf Coast. I have some great people helping me make this website more reflective of where I’m at in life now. I am determined to do the messy work of cleaning up my archives and slimming down my categories! I’m excited for all the changes, although there are bound to be some behind-the-scenes growing pains. I will do my best to be totally upfront with the trials of this complete life makeover. In the meantime, if you can’t find me here for a week or two due to the dust, I’ll still be posting to all my other usual social media: Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. ❤
The number one thing people told me we needed to do when Al retired was have two television sets. I immediately saw the wisdom in this. Al loves sports and I do not. So by Big Game day, we were all set. Not only had we purchased a new television for Al, but a new recliner, too.
So Al reclined in comfort while I watched Sanditon, Taylor Swift’s documentary, and two Grace and Frankie episodes in the guest room. Perfect. Al seems to really be enjoying his retirement and I get a kick out of this new laid back husband. Everything would be perfect if only my inner critic would shut up.
Most writers have some acquaintance with the inner critic. I used to shut mine up with chocolate, but now I have to watch my sugar. So, I need a new coping mechanism. Meanwhile, my inner critic laughs in glee, remarking that writing about retirement is not quite the riveting subject I had stupidly presumed would provide fodder for many a post to come.
I have a writer’s group here in Florida. I don’t say much about them because we have all agreed not to discuss anything said in the library where we meet. I am going to bend that rule a little bit because I don’t know how else to say what comes next. One woman wrote in present tense. It turned out really well, we all loved it, but then we all love everything she writes.
I was having one of those rare moments of hubris when I proclaimed “I don’t know what I’ll write next week, but whatever it is, I will write it in present tense!” That was three days ago and I have not been able to stop thinking about it and trying out sentences. My inner critic hates every single one of them. I even tried to write this post in present tense. How hard could it be?
Very. So while retirement continues to flow harmoniously, the writing has hit a speed bump. It’s not like I’m blocked. I can always write. But never have I ever had to use the backspace like I’ve done this morning. That’s fine. I love a challenge. I thought Al’s retirement would be a challenge, but no, it’s wonderful in every possible way.
I can feel myself about to do something reckless here. I’m not only going to write the group pages in present tense, I am going to post them here one week from today. And that is how to shut the inner critic up. For now.