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Posted on 8. August 2013

Location, Location, Location: Deciding Where to Live with Chronic Illness

By Ilana Jacqueline

I've had to make a lot of adjustments to my lifestyle to adapt to my new lower level of energy.  One of the biggest priorities I have to take into account is where I live. (The matter of who I live with is an entirely different post.) Anyone in real estate will tell you it's all about location, location, location, and nothing could be more true when you're chronically ill.

My boyfriend RJ and I took six months to find the perfect apartment. We wanted somewhere close to his school and my parents' house. We wanted to live somewhere where I'd feel safe walking the dog at night. We wanted to live somewhere that was actually affordable. And, we spent plenty of time tracking that place down.

I ended up lucking out on this apartment pretty much in general. It's pretty modern as far as the appliances go, it's in a safe neighborhood, and the rent is about $300 less than the other 8,000 apartments we looked at. And with all those positives, you would think that my luck would end there.

See, I didn't think about what location would mean for me when I was sick. I didn't consider the fact that I'd have vertigo so badly that I couldn't drive on main roads, or that my fatigue would mean the difference between being able to go out and pick up dinner … or going to sleep hungry. I didn't think about the fact that gas prices would go up in the summer and my client base would decline just around the same time.

But, like I said, I ended up getting lucky despite my complete lack of knowledge.

Here is a map of my house.


As you can see, I'm right smack dab in the middle of everything I really need. Late-night called-in medication? Walgreens. Last-minute dinner? Publix. Everything else I could need until 11:00 pm on weeknights? Target.

I don't know if this is something people without chronic illness experience, or maybe it's just not to the degree or frequency that those with chronic illness experience. But, I do know that it can quickly go from an ordinary situation to a dangerous one. Being too tired to drive, but in need of food/medication/necessities, we can sometimes make pretty irresponsible decisions.

I know that there has been many times that I've driven to Publix and just sat in the parking lot and cried because I knew there was no way I could get up, get out and walk through the store to get dinner - if I was going to have the energy to drive myself back home.

And even though I do ask for help from family or friends during times when I'm just out of spoons … sometimes you just want to be independent enough to go out and pick yourself up a sandwich.

Which in the grand scheme of things doesn't seem like a huge favor to ask from the universe.

So if you have a choice when it comes to finding your next home, think about how large a factor your location to grocery stores, gas stations and hospitals really is.

My point is that if this life is all about choices and this disease is all about wisely divvying up my energy, I want to be as close as humanly possible to the things that can make a difference between feeling like a helpless, hopeless patient and an independent, normal person.

How has your illness influenced your decision of where to live?


Comments (9) -

4:02 PM on Thursday, August 08, 2013

Luckily I have a husband who loves to drive and is very attentive to when I'm tired ... My issue is driving to work. I try not to live more than half an hour from work. Even with that, there are days where my hubby drives me and picks me up from work.

8:52 PM on Thursday, August 08, 2013

I can relate to your post. the other thing I think about is how close I am to a good hospital and to my doctors.  I have a lot of lung problems so, I need to be close to the hospital...just in case I need the ER or, my docs order some kind of test.  I also try to be fairly close to my church too.  My faith in God is how I deal with it all.  Smile  

Lianne Learnard
6:39 AM on Friday, August 09, 2013

What a great article.  Having a daughter with a chronic illness I will use this information wisely.. Thank you so much for sharing.  I wish you extra spoons every day.  

Joanna Tierno
11:28 AM on Friday, August 09, 2013

I sure have a story!  I live in the perfect place for me.. I am near parks & beaches, also a hospital and lots of stores.  Its basically flat & my ranch style home is usually easy to care for.  All until hurricane Sandy!  We ended up with 8 feet of water in my home, living without all utilities like heat, hot water & electricity for over a month, even through snow storms.   Lets not even mention the germs!    I have rebuilt nearly half my house this year.  My community has not seen promised funds for repair & mitigation work and insurance rates are expected to soar due to the Biggert Waters flood act even though most hit by Sandy can tell you flood insurance is practically a defective product given the small payouts you get when you actually have a flood.  Rates are expected to go from $400 a year to $9,000 a year unless of course you happen to have the money to rebuild your house to a new code.  In my case I need over $100,000.  We have already spent over $45,000 to live like modern people again.    Pray for the old & the sick because we will be hit hardest.  And this isn't just the East coast- this is a national bill, so if you live in a flood zone (I was not in a zone before Sandy & on new maps now I am) you will pay for every foot below base flood elevation your home is.  In my community we all have basements which are of course below base flood elevation.   The whole sitiuation devalues properties so you can't sell & honestly is as frightening as the wrath of mother nature.  I am fighting for my home,  my community and honestly this country because the Biggert Waters flood act is going to have many unintended consequences none of which are good.  

12:19 PM on Friday, August 09, 2013

Yes! This all rings very true for me as a singleton without immediate family in town. I managed to move into a very walkable neighborhood just a couple years before the "chronic" really kicked in. I've stopped driving, because of all the issues you mentioned, plus the cognitive challenges being in pain and on pain meds causes, so being able to walk to the library, to get groceries and kibble, go to the movies or a meal with friends is key to my quality of life.
I didn't think about it being so close to the hospital but that has also been a big benefit being 5 minutes from the ER or the diagnostic center for the sometimes endless tests.
When I'm really sick it also helps to be in the delivery area for a pharmacy and a grocery service - less favors to ask of neighbors.

12:51 PM on Friday, August 09, 2013

I am retired, and for several years before I was diagnosed with CVID, my husband and I looked at places to retire on N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia and Florida. We now know that we must be very close to a major city with excellent medical care. A number of the places we looked at are now not possible. So, yes, location is hugely important.

julia richardson
12:58 PM on Friday, August 09, 2013

If I knew 15 yrs ago that at 69 I would be living with 3-4 debiliating illnesses i would have never bought this house, which at the time was not in a flood zone, nor underwater.. and now I cannot make any of my bills or buy food or suppliments etc. etc. and pet food. I am single, a semi retired television makeup artist from LA for the past 20 yrs.. I have CVID, liver disease, facing back surgery and a number of other illnesses.. No family left.. never married, no children.

This is suberbia, the outskirts of Sacramento and it is 14 blocks to nearest bus line, rain or shine.. It is either HOT here or COLD here. Even with my walker and cane I cannot walk that far.

tho I do have in home support services to help clean twice a week the rest is up to me.. lots of Dr. appts. and IV therapy and now older car getting older...

If I had known... I would have moved at least closer to the hospital and midtown close to restaurants for sandwiches and probably tried find a roommate who loves cats as much as I do.. now it seems all to late...

Being single has isolated me and what few cousins I have left alive are in other states and do not comprehend at all what I am going through.

6:00 AM on Friday, August 23, 2013

Hello, I have a nephew who suffers from an immune deficiency as he has had chronic sinusitis for over five yhears and many surgeries and still misses so much school and socializing with friends. We live in NJ but still have not found a doctor does anyone know who the best PID doctor is in the USA we are now willing to travel wherever that may be as we are desperate. thank you so much

10:56 AM on Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I can really relate to this post as to how hard it is to get out.  I live in a 55 and older condo right next to a shopping center.  Even so some days, I cannot get out for food or medications.  I have to wait a day.  I try to go out every other day as going out two or more days in a row, lands me on my back in bed.  I am relying on frozen and pre-pared food from the market or leftover take-out as I have no energy to cook.

My thoughts and prayers are with anyone trying to work or caring for children with this fatigue.  I am a writer, but have not been able to do anything creative for weeks.  I wish all readers peace and healing.

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