Seven years ago, I broke my neck.
A doctor at the local walk-in clinic confirmed my worst fears. By tripping on a carpet and falling, I had broken a cervical vertebra. A team of surgeons operated several weeks later, and shortly thereafter, I went home with a walker, legally handicapped.
I chose not to retire, and after Labor Day, returned to work.
My accident changed everything. Normal activities - from going to work, to grocery shopping - required careful planning to avoid mishaps. I feared the consequences of another fall.
I adjusted my routine to conform to physical limitations, making necessary changes as events and activities required. Most importantly, I taught myself to slow down; sudden movements were a constant challenge to my disabilities.
Fatigue was the most obvious deficit of returning to work. When I came home each night, I was exhausted, mentally and physically.
One sunny June day, I was sitting outside after lunch, chatting with two colleagues. One of them announced that he had put in for retirement. The other laughed, and said that he had done the same.
They went back to their offices. I thought about their news, and how tired I was every day. On the way to my office, I stopped by Human Resources and filed for retirement.
It was time.