credit: online stock photos
This post is inspired by Life in the Boomer Lane’s post on Guerilla Aging http://lifeintheboomerlane.com/2014/03/21/guerrilla-aging-when-where-we-are-isnt-where-we-thought-wed-be/
I am afraid to say my life isn’t what I thought it would be. As part of the boomer generation, I was very much into the hippie movement.
I have always been very independent. Up until I became pregnant with my daughter, I thought I would be a career woman & never have any children at all. I had been steadily climbing the rungs of the ladder to that goal (unaware I would have hit a glass ceiling at the time). I started working my very first job just weeks after my 16th birthday & I worked all of my life up until August, 2012.
In August, 2012 I had been struggling with some health issues (severe incontinence associated with a very difficult hysterectomy, explosive diarrhea associated with gallbladder removal, shortness of breath) & then I injured my left knee. No one had a definitive answer for why I couldn’t bear weight on my left leg anymore (I woke up with it), but I was assured it was “just a sprain.” Except it didn’t get any better. I used a cane, but still had a great deal of difficulty getting around & the pain was not letting up. I went to the emergency room to try to get some help & was told I was aggravating the “sprain” & was now experiencing micro-tears in the ligaments of my left knee. I was put on crutches so I would do no weight-bearing at all. In the meantime I continued to try working. When my assignment ended I wasn’t in any hurry to take on a new assignment because hubby & I were in the middle of moving from the south end of the city to the northeast end of the city. I wanted to take some time to get settled in our new place before going back to work. Except when I tried to go back to work, there was no work for me – I had received an uncomplimentary performance review which referred to my knee injury being part of the reason my performance was not satisfactory.
I had just finished back to back assignments where I was replacing people who had just walked off the job in the middle of their shifts, so I guess I should have been better prepared when both assignments gave poor performance reviews for me. But I had such an exemplary performance record up to this point, I was totally floored by what happened! I was 56 years old & I was out of work & not in the best of health. Although I made a good faith effort to find work, I had no luck whatsoever. Every job interview for jobs I did not get pushed me further & further into depression. By the time my employment insurance benefits ran out I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed.
I am still suffering with severe knee pain, severe incontinence, my respite from back pain (born with spina bifida) seems to have ended & I have recently been diagnosed with COPD for which there is no cure. My health will only continue to deteriorate. I was lucky enough to find a medication to help with the explosive diarrhea.
I am fighting with the government to get disability benefits which is mind-numbingly debilitating. I have had no income for well over a year. I now rely totally on my husband for support who is fighting his own battle with unemployment. Who wants to hire someone who is so obviously close to retiring? (Sorry hubby, but you do look your age) This is hard for me to do. I have always had my own income & even if it was low income, I was always able to contribute to looking after the household. Due to back pain, knee pain & shortness of breath, it is difficult to help with any household chores.
Why is it when you need help due to disability, the government puts so many roadblocks in your way to keep you from getting the help you need. You’re sick, but expected to jump through hoops, when walking is difficult enough. You’re already dealing with the loss of ability (& possibly your approaching demise) & the depression which accompanies it, then the government adds to your depression by making it all so difficult for you. A blogging buddy has said the government does this to you because they hope you will be too sick to keep up the fight, so they won’t have to pay out the benefits you have paid into your whole life.
credit: online stock photos
I thought these years would look much more like the picture on the left. My husband should be retiring in May of 2015, but it’s not going to happen. Like he says, he will probably have to work “until he drops dead.” His unemployment benefits run out in another couple months. Our retirement savings are slowly dwindling as we have to use them to supplement our income right now. We have pared down our expenses & soon may have to make some tough choices about changing our frugal lifestyle even more.
This is not how I thought I would be spending my remaining years.