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News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Determined to continue MS fight in retirement

Today, November 8 2017, I celebrate my 65th birthday, and have reached my retirement age. That is the age at which I can claim the national pension.

For many years the retirement age in the UK has been 65 for men and 60 for women, but that’s all changing. Indeed, if I had been born just 11 months later, my retirement aged would have been 66. And the later your date of birth, the later retirement age will be. The plan is that it will eventually rise to 68 for everyone.

retirement

That’s me. A few months old in 1953.

So, what does it mean for me?

Well, I have finally reached an age that always seemed so far away in the most distant future. But as the wheel of life continues to turn relentlessly through the seasons, the years pass … seemingly faster and faster.

When, I received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis 15½ years ago, I was 49. Even then, 65 seemed so very far away, but here I am.

Will I be putting my feet up and be taking life more slowly? Not a chance, except when fatigue creeps up on me.  My mobility may be seriously affected by having MS, but my electric wheelchair lets me get out and about and ensures my independence (special thanks here to Shaun Atkinson and his Better Products for Disabled People company).

Retirement, the MS fight goes on

My family is the greatest thing in my life. My beloved wife Lisa (who is my lover, my carer, and my rock) and two cats make up our household here in southern Spain where we enjoy the good life of 300 days of sunshine a year.

retirement

That’s me, again. Approaching my 30th birthday in 1982.

I haven’t been able to go out to work for 10 years now, because of MS, so reaching retirement age means little to me. Certainly, no retirement party or parting gift. I will continue, though, to write this blog as well as occasional articles about healthcare.

I am determined to enjoy my retirement years, notwithstanding this terrible disease. After all, I am still me. Age is just a number, nothing more, nothing less.

MS doesn’t define me. Neither does disability, nor age; I define myself.

I may be disabled. I may be retired, a pensioner, a senior citizen. But most of all, I am me, a person. And, as far as MS is concerned, I am a fighter, a warrior, and tireless advocate.

MS will never get me, I’ll never give up. Nor should you. Whether you have MS, another disease, or have a disability from a different cause. Stand strong.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Family love and celebration

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As days continue to pass by, amazingly it is now just a week until Lisa and I are due to fly to Spain to begin our new life in our home in the Mediterranean sunshine. Right now, we are in the United States of America halfway through a holiday in Lisa’s home country.

Saturday and Sunday have been special family days. Two days ago we travelled to upstate New York to visit Great Aunt Nina and her son Anthony. Neither of them had seen Lisa for many years and had never met me.

mumNina was aunt to Lisa’s late mom Mary but, being close in age, they had been more like sisters.  Today, Aunt Nina is 92 years old but certainly doesn’t look or sound like it. She is a lovely little lady, full of spirit and totally aware of everything that is going on. I say ‘little’ as Nina is just 4’9” tall.

Years ago, she moved from New York City to the rural area with her husband Tony.  There, they ran a dairy farm as well as growing corn and grass for hay. In the early years, all milking was done by hand of which Lisa has fond childhood memories but one thing she did not know was revealed by Aunt Nina. She said that when she first moved to the farm she only had city clothes and was soon driving the tractor while wearing high heels. Now, that would be a great photograph.

In the area in which Nina and Anthony live is an absolutely fantastic barbecue restaurant and takeaway. It uses open charcoal pits to cook the tastiest chicken I have ever encountered. It is called Brooks and, on the strength of what I tasted, I strongly recommend trying it out if you are ever in the region of Oneonta, NY.

Having said a very fond farewell to Nina and Anthony, we set off yesterday to meet Lisa’s oldest sister Gen, her husband Billy, and their children Maria, Jamie and Pam along with her partner Scott. All eight of us enjoyed a superb buffet brunch that also served as a celebration of my birthday. In fact, it has been very many years since I have been joined by so many people on my birthday.

It was an occasion of good humour and family celebration as we were asked questions about what we had done so far in the USA, what we still have planned and our upcoming move to Spain.

Lisa and I are two-thirds of the way through our great adventure. Part one was the transatlantic crossing that I had dreamed of as a child, part two is our current tour of four states in the north-east of the USA, and part three will be our arrival in Spain, heralding the start of our new life.

Birthday footnote: Thanks to everyone from whom I have received birthday greetings, either personally, via Facebook or via email. So far, 63 years and many more to come (I hope). Actually, 63 is a good number as it means I can say I’m 21 again, for the third time.

Pictures at top from left – Aunt Nina and me; she is standing while I am sitting.  Lisa’s sister Gen, right, with daughters Pam and Maria. Lisa with Aunt Nina. Inset – Lisa’s late mom Mary and her Aunt Nina had been like sisters.

 

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