Life as a Disabled Retiree: What's Next?

Many changes have occurred in the past year since I last wrote here. First, my wife and I became grandparents of two little darling girls - - Natalie and Julia - - born about a year apart. Second, we moved out of New York State and became residents of Massachusetts. And third, after nearly 40 years of full-time work at one company, this C5-C6 quadriplegic blogger decided to take “early” retirement and end my career at a prominent high-tech company.

We chose to move to Massachusetts because we’re closer to our daughter and her family, and it’s less expensive than living in New York. The quality of life is also better for us - - we’re just a stone’s throw away by car from Cape Cod and its scenic ocean views, which is south of our home.

 MayFlower II at Plymouth Bay, Mass.
And, just North of us, is the vibrant City of Boston , which is a 45-minute drive on good traffic days.

I ended my corporate career in February 2015, and have been thinking quite a bit about my life as a husband, a father, a former executive and a man who is quadriplegic. It’s just different now without a full-time job to engage me.

One Door Closes….
After a fulfilling professional career, all but five years of almost 40 was achieved sitting in a power wheelchair. I now face new choices and a new lifestyle…also in a power wheelchair. Some things just never change!

Although I was a bit “dazed” the day after I officially retired, not lost on me was the fact that I have led a “full” life despite a “body-surfing” accident I suffered in Puerto Rico, which left me paralyzed from the top of my chest to my feet (December 1980).

My choices are different as a disabled retiree as I just can’t jump on my sailboat, go “Dancing with the Stars,” grab golf clubs and tee-off with my golf buddies (I don’t have any!), or embark on an exotic trip with my wife around the world at the drop of a hat.

…Other Doors Open 

 In the past few months I was honored when asked to join two important not-for-profit boards focusing on people with disabilities. They are:

Abilities, Inc. at The Viscardi Center, which prepares adolescents and adults with all types of disabilities (cognitive, physical, learning, developmental) and levels of experience for entry or re-entry into the workforce. The organization assists them in securing pre-employment services as well as employment so they can enjoy independent living, full community participation and economic self-sufficiency. John Kemp is President and CEO of the Viscardi Center.

The MassHealth Disability Advisory Group (DAG) is comprised of various leaders from the disabled community, to advise MassHealth [and EOHHS] on proposed and implemented measures designed to assist MassHealth applicants and members with disabilities. The Disability Advisory Group will alert MassHealth leadership to emerging disability issues and concerns. 

Daniel Tsai, Assistant Secretary for MassHealth, is the group’s sponsor, and Jean Batty, MPA, is the Disability Accommodation Ombudsman for MassHealth. The DAG convenes once every other month.

Since retiring my wife and I have also spent our time getting our affairs in order, basically managing for retirement. We worked on all the things you do when you relocate - - car registrations, address updates, policy changes, new Wills and medical preferences, furnishing a new, smaller home and more. 

We have also explored our extended neighborhood and taken in the sights, ocean sounds and New England residents who are now part of our new life.
Duxbury Pier Lighthouse in Plymouth Bay
 We’re just 12 miles from the ocean and a state park, Nantasket Beach and Wompatuck State Park, and no more than 30 minutes from any number of lakes and beaches in the area.

In the next few blogs, I’ll share some of the places we visited and comment on the accessibility for wheelchair riders and others with disabilities.



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