Why Retire Now

Kayak scuba diving

Mr. ItchyFeet always said that he would never retire. He would “retire the day after [he] died”. He just couldn’t imagine not working. He got satisfaction from doing his work, in many respects at the top of his field, solving new and exciting problems every day. Then he broke his neck and everything changed. 

We had just gotten back from a work trip to Austin, Texas and my husband was in a lot of pain with his back. He booked a massage and went to work. He had a really hard time at work as he kept having to stop to lay down in conference rooms for a moment of relief. He finally made it to the massage but, when he put his head in the face cradle, he heard more than felt something “pop”.

That can’t be good

An icy-cold numbness went down his left arm, leaving much of his left arm and hand numb. He went into a physical therapy clinic and started doing multiple neck exercises. The therapist, turned out they were not a physical therapist at all and were a junior chiropractor, made no progress for a month and insisted that he was not a candidate for surgery. Refusing, multiple times, to give a referral for medical imaging. He finally talked them into letting him get an MRI. After viewing the MRI, they immediately referred him to a non-surgical spine specialist at Harborview Medical Center. 

The doctor spent about ten seconds evaluating him, and said that it was very nice to meet both of us, but he couldn’t help and he needed to see a surgeon immediately. The surgeon took a look at the MRI and told Mr. ItchyFeet he would need surgery the next morning at 6am. They cleared an immediate spot for him, due to the severity of injury, to remove the piece of splintered disc that was firmly embedded into his C8 nerve root. Fuck! This was serious!

You are going to need surgery

They went in through the back of his neck. Recovery was extremely painful, but at least he regained much of his strength and a significant use of his hands and fingers.

Mr. ItchyFeet spent the next three years trying to work, and getting house projects done, but it was just too much. Neurological symptoms continued to get worse. Tremors. Spasms. Inability to grasp, or release, objects. Shooting pain that ran down his arm and would cause his entire back to convulse.

He eventually suffered a complete collapse of the disc space in his spine, and needed another surgery to fuse vertebrae with a titanium plate. We realized that he might not be able to work again and moved up the renovation schedule of our house. There was no way we could live in this expensive area on just one income. 

We also realized that with all the money we had been investing in retirement accounts and stocks, and the appreciation of the house, we would be able to retire early. We did a ton of research into the idea of Financial Independence/Retire Early (FIRE) and decided we could do this! We got rid of most of our stuff, sold the house, put the profits into mostly index funds, so we didn’t have to do much active management, and prepared to travel. At this point we are going to check out areas where the cost of living is lower and maybe on the beach. It’s always an adventure!

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  1. Love the blog. Can’t wait to read about the next adventure.

  2. Love it, you’re a great writer! I’m so excited for your adventures! ❤️ BTW, Sophie’s not gross. (That’s not true, she’s so gross, sometimes she sneezes directly into my mouth.)

  3. […] the ‘B’ part of the ABC islands near Venezuela. We went way back in 2016 before Mr. ItchyFeet got all broken. This was a great scuba diving trip for him that we did with another couple. I don’t scuba dive. […]

  4. […] a bit younger than I intended to be when I retired, but that was due to Mr. ItchyFeet getting all brokie-broke. We had to accelerate plans because he could no longer work (plus I really needed to get away). We […]

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