Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Retirement Age...

...should be raised. At least that's what some believe. We're living longer and many people think that living a third of one's life "on vacation" is unpatriotic - us geezers should just keep on working.

Well, now - seeing as how many of the people proclaiming that have sedentary jobs as pundits, I must disagree.

I've spent 45 years in nursing: 3 years as a student nurse (during a time when we were "labor" in a hospital) and 42 years as an RN. I'm tired. I'm not only tired but I have structural issues in my spine, slipped discs and degenerative disc disease from many years of lifting patients without mechanical devices (a relatively new phenomena that happened when insurance companies realized it was cheaper to pay for mechanical lifts than worker comp claims.)

While working I've been kicked, punched, bitten and hit over the head with a large glass bottle,  knocking me unconscious. I've been verbally and physically abused. I've worked double shifts and even 24 hour shifts because weather prevented the next two shifts from coming on duty. I've worked in six bed wards with no running water, making countless trips up and down hallways just to bathe patients. Most of my nursing life was spent working without air conditioning. For half of my professional life I worked every other weekend. There was a time when I worked every Christmas Eve and Christmas. After my daughter was born I worked evening shift and never got home before midnight.

Forty-two years ago I started out earning less than $4/hour as an RN. I had no pension and no 401k. My health insurance didn't include maternity benefits and when I got pregnant right after getting married, I had to pay for everything before the baby was due - to the hospital where I was employed.

My present job is stressful. Last year I had an episode of accelerated hypertension, spent time in the hospital and finally needed a stent in a renal artery. I'm on lots of medication, including anti-anxiety and antidepressants. I travel across the state for my job - driving myself - which doesn't help my back.

I'm tired. I want to retire at 65, not 66, not 67, not 70.
There are other things I want to do with my life - whatever life I have left.
I keep thinking that my mother died at 69.
I want more time with Morgan, with Heather, with myself - not more time with a job.


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