’22 In Review-Part 2

            I told my supervisor in January that I was retiring; gave him over a month of notice. The plan was simple: my last day of work would be February 10, the following week I would turn 65 and eligible for Medicare. My wife, who had held off retiring until I was eligible for Medicare, as she carried our health insurance, could then retire. Once retired, we would take a vacation to celebrate. We’d go to Marco Island in south Florida to enjoy the warmth for a while, then take a leisurely drive back north. We’d get back home, settle into retirement, and live happily ever after.

The last day of January, I had a cough. We had done some cleaning in the cellar the previous day and I figured it was just some dust and dirt kicked up from that. The following day the cough remained, plus I felt chills and lethargy. Just to be sure, I tested for COVID. Positive That was not part of the plan. From there I went downhill. COVID and double pneumonia. The final week and a half I was supposed to be working, I was home sick.

We had been planning the trip to Florida since the middle of last year. We had decided on Marco Island, the reservations had been made, we were looking forward to it. We’d spend a little over a week there, then drive up the east coast stopping at places we wanted to see along the way. It’ll be fun, we thought, being retired, we won’t have a schedule; won’t have to rush home for work.

As the time approached for our trip, I had only the energy to move from one chair to another and couldn’t climb stairs without having to sit and catch my breath. I wasn’t sure I could go. I wasn’t sure I could make it from the car to the front desk, much less to an elevator and then to a room.

            It was only a couple of days before we were supposed to leave for Florida that I began to feel better. I was still short of breath, still had to take things slow, still lacked energy and appetite, but I was doing better. I decided that if all I could do was sit around and recover, it would be better in the warmth and sun of southern Florida than the chill and possible snow, sleet, and rain of the mid-Atlantic. My doctor was good with that.

            We had booked the Amtrak Auto Train months ago. That takes your car and you from northern Virginia to central Florida. I was so glad we did that, as I couldn’t drive, and it saved my wife 15-16 hours behind the wheel. She only had to drive from the Orlando area to Marco Island.

We made it to the resort. They didn’t have to put me on a luggage cart, I was able to walk to the room. The room was nice, the people were friendly, and the balcony overlooked the Gulf of Mexico and the beach. That alone was therapy.

            After a couple of days, we began to walk the beach, a little farther each day as my energy and breathing improved. I did a lot of sitting on the beach and around the pool, reading, dozing, recovering. It wasn’t the most exciting vacation we ever took, but it beat sitting home moping because I didn’t feel well, and knowing my wife was disappointed that we didn’t go to Florida—which would have made me feel even worse.

            About the fifth day there, something told me I had been horizontal long enough and needed to be vertical; needed to move more. We took longer walks, some on the beach, some along the streets outside the resort. We went to lunch, did some shopping, and finally, our second to last day, did a group tour on small, two-person catamarans that took us through Mangroves, sights of interest, and into the Gulf of Mexico.

            It was starting to feel like the celebration we had planned.

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