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?