In February of this year, I had major surgery that resulted in me being off of work for 18 consecutive days (12 work days and 3 weekends). In my 35+ years of working full time, this was the longest time I had ever been off work. So part of the way through my convalescence, I started thinking: “Was this what retirement would be like?”
Admittedly, the first part of my recuperation was no picnic. The first two days off (Thursday and Friday) were the actual day of the surgery and the first 24 hours following it. In fact for the next five days, I spent most of my time lying on this chaise in our sunroom—a room my wife had recently redecorated—because it was just too painful to do much else. But every morning after I awoke, took my medicine and had my breakfast, I got to do pretty much whatever I wanted to do. And after almost a week post surgery, I felt well enough to do more than just lie around. That began to seem more like retirement to me.
So what did I do?
Well for one, I did a lot of reading. At that time, I was on a binge reading James Bond novels and watching the companion movies. Over the time I was off, I read six Bond novels and watched eight Bond movies. This was a fun way to spend my time recuperating.
When it was less painful to sit for an extended period of time, I started working on some of my miniature chairs I’ve written about before. I had time to complete one and get a pretty good start on a second one.
And I wrote four different blog posts (this being one of them).
Once I felt well enough to drive, I went to the mall to walk and get some exercise and also did a little shopping while there.
I even worked on income taxes although that certainly wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do, just needed to do.
Two weeks after my suregery, I decided to get started working back into an exercise routine even though the doctor had told me it would be at least four weeks before I was fully recovered and able to run again. So the morning I went to the gym, I left the house at a leisurely 7:30 AM rather than my usual 5:30 AM. I certainly encountered a lot more traffic at that time which took me longer to get there but I didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time so it didn’t really matter.
And over those 18 days off from work, I never once set an alarm; I just got up at whatever time I felt like. That certainly seemed like retirement!
Into my second full week off from work, I did start to go through some work e-mail once my unread messages got to be over 350. And I had to read a book for some management training I was going through at work bringing my total number of books read to seven. But even this small amount of work didn’t dampen my sense of feeling retired.
In talking with friends and work colleagues who have retired, I know part of the adjustment to retirement is just getting use to not driving to work and following a set routine. For me, this wasn’t a problem as I had an automatic disrupter, the surgery that broke my routine.
While being off from work almost three weeks is a far cry short of being off work permanently, it still gave me a taste of what it would feel like. Never did I wonder what I would do with all my extra time, puzzlement many early retirees probably ponder. Rather I only wondered of all the options I had what I wanted to do next. So I liked this small taste of retirement I was given under the circumstances. And I know when that actual day comes, I ‘ll think of many other things I want to do, things I never had time to do while working full time.