Monday, September 21, 2009

Aging and Retirement, According to Carmen

        As I waited for my orthopedist this afternoon – a shoulder, knee, and elbow specialist, team physician to the NBA Golden State Warriors, I pondered my thoughts on aging and retirement.  To use the vernacular of today’s youth, “they suck.” 
         According to Social Security, my retirement age is sixty-six.  However, San Francisco’s mayor, in massive budget cuts to the Department of Public Health, cut my forensic nursing position of 21 years and, since I was unable to transfer to ICU, the ER or that type of specialty area ( heaven help the patients had I done so! ) after two decades of  collecting evidence and taking care of sexually abused children and adults, I retired. I was immediately plunged into the ranks of those struggling to keep their heads above water, in this, one of the most expensive areas of the country in which to live. 
        I contacted Social Security, who has received a substantial amount of my income over the years and, in spite of their somber warning that this would impact my future benefits, I opted to start collecting them now. 
          My colleagues wanted to have a retirement party for me which I declined.  It took me five months to work through my feelings of losing my job, after forty years as a registered nurse to finally allow that party.  It was actually a healing event for me, one which I totally enjoyed.  I was honored by the presence of those colleagues from diverse agencies who came that evening and pleased to have my three sons and their girlfriends there. 
          As for the aging part, well, I know it is something we all will go through but I don’t have to like it.  I can’t believe I will be sixty-five-years-old the 3rd of October. 
Yes, I will be in Rome, with four dear friends for the occasion, dining at Orso 80 and will sail on the 4th aboard the Navigator of the Seas for 6 days.  We’ll end up with four days in Barcelona.  I will need a walker, though, something alien to me during my first visit there in my 30’s.  I wasn’t coloring my hair back then, to hide intruding strands of gray, and my joints didn’t ache - nor was I using a CPAP machine at night.  My darn shoulder wasn’t killing me, either – arthritis with a small rotator cuff tear.  Hence, today’s visit to Dr. Belzer’s office.  He will give me a cortisone injection, in hopes of affording me some relief so I might have less pain on my two week journey.  Besides that, he is a competent physician ( I checked this out with other nurses – we are most critical of doctors, in case you weren’t aware ), he is quite handsome ( an extra ) as well, and he has a very nice, caring personality.
        I look at my two younger sons – 27 and 25-years-old and wonder how that happened ( okay, I know about procreation ) but I was already ancient when I had them.  My youngest, Jeremy, the former decathlete is constantly encouraging me ( I hesitate to use the word “nag” ) to exercise and to lose weight.  I am sure this stems from love for me but I keep telling him that I hurt all over and I HATE exercise.  I saw a card recently that really appealed to me, “I’m pushing seventy….that’s enough exercise for me.” 

Left to right, my youngest, Jeremy Vukasinovic, 25
in Nov, his girlfriend, Katie Robbins, my oldest,
Shawn Smith, 37, Laura Winterhalter, who is marrying
lucky Alex Vukasinovic, 27 in May 2010

Carmen Henesy, 64, officially a retired
nurse, of the city and county of San Francisco


  1. you have a beautiful family, and your happiness and fulfillment as a woman (nurse or otherwise).

  2. Thank you, cherie...though testosterone is rampant in my family in these boys I raised alone, I am blessed in my sons. They are good kids, thanks in part to their older brother, Shawn, who is 11 years older than the next one and was such a help to me. I was lucky to have my nursing position as a forensic nurse with San Francisco but it ended just a little too soon for me!!

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog!

    You have a wonderful family. I know how you feel about enforced retirement. I was in the same boat just a year ago. I could see it coming but that didn't help one bit. I had counted on possibly two more years of income to do some of the things I'd missed when caring first for sons and then for parents. I still haven't really come to terms with it, though I'm starting to enjoy my total freedom.

  4. Sheila, my sentiments exactly. I had a plan..working out my payments so that, by the time I reached 66, I would, pretty much, be debt free, and set to leave city employment. I had also planned some legal nurse consulting as well...but, when it is thrown at you, suddenly, the loss of nearly $100,000/year, it is overwhelming. I don't miss getting called out at all hours of the day and night to deal with sex abuse cases but I miss working and my colleagues - and the income.

  5. I no longer miss the long hours, the cash would be handy but I have a life away from nursing now. Take a deep breath and live by a budget, but live :)

  6. Yes, that I am doing though with less travel than in the past!