What a Health Scare Can Teach You About Experts, Money, and Time

Lessons From a Health Scare: How a Financial Expert Changed His Views

In May of 2022, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While there’s a happy ending to the story, there’s also a lesson—several lessons actually—that I feel like everyone can learn from.

Earlier that spring, I had lost my sense of smell. A series of specialist referrals led to imaging. When I saw the way the MRI technicians were acting, I knew the news probably wasn’t going to be good.

Very thankfully, the shape and location of the growth indicated it was benign. But it was also large—the size of a plum. The doctors felt it could successfully be removed, but they also suggested I could wait. It had taken 20 years to grow that big, they said, and it was close to a lot of nerves.

I walked out, talked it over with my wife, and decided to have the surgery. It was scheduled for July 2022.

Unfortunately, I ended up having complications. The most disturbing one had never even come up among the risks when they were disclosed to me. I had double vision that didn’t clear up after a few days.

After six weeks, an eye specialist told me the surgeon might have nicked one of the optic nerves. My surgeon denied this, saying “I do 1000 of these a year.”

I was given steroids for swelling, but the drugs had difficult side effects. I was told to “wait and see.” Wait and see? I couldn’t see. And not being able to look at a computer was making my work as a financial planner and advisor nearly impossible.

I realized I needed to do my research and figure it out for myself.

One of my friends is a coach, and her daughter is a naturopath. Her daughter suggested trying hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT). I did some research on this treatment and decided to try it out.

I began a HBOT regimen in a full-size hyperbaric oxygen chamber—the kind used to treat decompression sickness in scuba divers—every day of the week for 90 minutes.

I noticed a difference after five days.

After 20 treatments, my vision was 100 percent.

I couldn’t believe my doctor hadn’t brought this up and offered it as a possible treatment. But when I pressed him about it, it turned out that he didn’t even know about it.

I realized that this is how it is sometimes with “experts.”

We do need help, but we also have to sometimes take matters into our own hands. No “expert” knows everything. Many experts have gaps in their knowledge.

This is true for health—and it’s also true for finances.

Many financial “experts” won’t give you information you may need to know—sometimes because they themselves aren’t aware of it.

Do your research, and sometimes you’ll find answers—and other experts—who can help you differently.

Here’s the other lesson THIS EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME…

Don’t wait to live your life.

I had a retirement dream that became more urgent after this experience. Having a serious health threat will often bring this kind of clarity. Suddenly, you may not want to put off dreams you’ve deferred for the future.

I had lived abroad as a college student three times, in Hungary, Germany, and Poland. I had always wanted to do it again, but I figured I would wait until retirement to do that again with my wife.

After this experience, I thought “what if something happens?” Life—or our sight—can be taken so quickly. We never know what the future holds.

I knew that living abroad now would look different than it would in retirement. It wasn’t as easy to arrange. But also, if we went now, I could enjoy it with my kids. And I could be sure of having the vitality to explore and do all the activities I wanted to. What if later I wasn’t able to walk as far or go scuba diving?

So, exactly one year after my surgery date, my whole family took off for a month in Portugal. My wife had to get a leave of absence from Wells Fargo. I had to take leave from my business. It took a lot of planning.

But it was so worth it. We had the time of our lives.

So…two things.

  1. You need experts—but you also need to take charge of your life.
  2. And your money needs to work for you now—not just later.

Prioritize what’s important in your life. Figure out what your values are.

Mine are adventure, freedom, and family. What are yours?

Let’s align your money with it, so you can live a life of meaning and purpose.

This is why at Calamita Wealth Management, we consider ourselves equal parts financial planners and life coaches.

If you’d like to talk about making your money work for you now and later, reach out  using our online calendar.  

Or call us directly at (704) 276-7325

About Todd

Todd Calamita is the founder and managing principal of Calamita Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only wealth management company located in Charlotte, NC. Calamita Wealth Management serves people locally and across the country, providing wealth management solutions to affluent individuals over age 50 and their families, with a special focus and expertise supporting Wells Fargo employees.  

Todd has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. He’s passionate about helping people create a better life by designing and implementing customized financial plans that bring clarity and confidence. Todd is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™️(CFP®️) and CERTIFIED DIVORCE FINANCIAL ANALYST®️ (CDFA®️). He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio University. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.

Todd has authored a book, Plan Smart: Conquering 10 Common Money Traps. Todd also wrote numerous articles on wide-ranging personal finance topics, from taxes to retirement accounts. He was featured in a Financial Boot Camp TV series as a volunteer. There he was showing people how to make smart decisions with their money. When he’s not working, you can find Todd spending time with his wife, Teresa, and their sons, Colin and Cameron. He enjoys rock climbing, swimming, and traveling. Todd even has a black belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. To learn more about Todd, connect with him on LinkedIn.


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