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Retirement Ups And Downs – Graham May (25th)

I left work a short time after my 65th birthday and headed home knowing that I had now retired and I felt as though I was walking on air. That evening the wife and I dined out with a few friends, who all wanted to know what my plans were, and I answered that I was going to do damn all for at least a month or two, and that is exactly what I did. When the time finally came for some action I re-joined the local golf club in early 2004 just after it had been enlarged to accommodate a hotel. gym, swimming pool, sauna and spa. ( The wife later followed suite but without the golf, thank goodness! ) After a couple of years I considered myself to be pretty fit, I had worked out in the gym and swam at least three times a week as well as making good use of the sauna, however on more than one occasion I nearly passed out in there when the temperature seemed to be rather high. I took stock and realised that. among other things, I had been smoking and drinking well in excess of normal for quite a number of years. My wife confirmed my suspicions and said I should see a doctor but I stalled until one day I nearly fainted whilst digging in the garden. This shook me up a bit so I did see a doctor and it was bad news. My pulse was slow and irregular and, after a full scale examination, he booked me in for a pacemaker with the cheery news that there was nothing to it – just a small incision in the upper left chest and hey presto!

Of course it was nothing like that! In early 2007 I was in a hospital ward with a few others all needing pacemakers. When I finally got mine, with just a local anaesthetic, I seemed to feel every cut, every insertion and every stitch for the whole of the operation, After the prescribed period of rest at home I felt OK and it was then that I decided to to ditch the booze and cigars for good and found it surprisingly easy. ( I have now been sober and nicotine free for seventeen years and in that time I have had one pacemaker battery change and am due for another later this year.) I resumed my activity at the Golf Club but on a reduced scale and had no trouble until three years later when I began to get pain in my right knee. Home remedies did not work so I put my case to a new young doctor who could only recommend a course of injections which were equally useless, Eventually I was lucky enough to see an older doctor who immediately arranged for a full scale X- ray of my right leg and announced that I needed a hip replacement! So it was, that in the late summer of 2011, I was back in hospital expecting an operation which I thought would be far worse than that for a mere pacemaker. However, as it turned out, it was a piece of cake as I put completely under and came to over an hour later in a warm comfortable bed being offered tea and sandwiches by a very attractive young nurse, Over the next few days I was assisted to walk slowly around the ward by the physio and then had longer walks, ending up with a go at negotiating stairs. When I finally got home I spent six weeks doing all the prescribed exercises and walking as much as possible before the hospital signed me off. (To this day I have never had any problem whatsoever with my hip or knee.) My wife on the other hand, had a botched cataract removal several years ago and still needs left eye injections in order to fully maintain her sight. She is also suspect to bronchitis and two years ago had a knee replacement which was far more painful and a lot more difficult to cope with than my two operations put together.

In between all this we had holidays which were either good, bad or indifferent. Initially we chose to visit many of the places we had been to years before but, as things had changed so much. we ditched the idea and opted for coach trips to places in the UK that we had never been to before. One of the best was a week in Scotland which included steam railway excursions from Fort William through the highlands and islands and then coach trips through the glens and a boat trip on Loch Lomond. We had planned a trip to the Yorkshire Dales but this was called off for some reason so we changed it for a week in Llandudno where the hotel was poor, the food less than average and we had to put up with an annoying coach driver who liked to think he was a comedian. A group of old dears at the front of the coach thought the sun shone out of his ear holes, whereas the rest of us thought otherwise! We have not bothered with holidays for the last few years what with covid etc and we are quite happy living each day as it comes without any undue stress and strain. Long may it all continue !