Location, Location, Location: Deciding Where To Live With a Chronic Illness

I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to my life style 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 being 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.

Home sweet home! (before we moved in and everything was still clean)

R.J 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.

Now, I ended up lucking out on this apartment pretty much in general. It’s pretty modern as far as the appliances go, it’s a safe neighborhood, and the rent was about $300 less than the other 8,000 apartments we looked at. And with all those positives, you would think that my luck ended 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 11:00pm on weeknights? Target.

I don’t know if this is something that people without chronic illness experience, or maybe just not to the degree or frequency that those with it do. 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.

I guess 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 humanely possible to the things that can make a difference of feeling like a helpless, hopeless patient and an independent, normal person.



  • Laurie Ricks

    What really hit home here was going to bed hungry because i dont have the energy or i am dressed like a slob to be seen in public.

  • Nancy Johnstone

    Yes, I resonated with your experience! I’ve driven to the grocery store, not found a close parking plac open, and driven home–hungry. I have CVID, arthritis, diabetes, and other stuff–lately I’ve had lots of blood sugar lows. So scary! I get so shaky, hot, clammy, and confused–it knocks me out for hours. The usual problem (lungs, heart, arthritis, & very low energy from CVID) is that I can manage to drive there, but not walk all the way through the store and wait in line to check out. At least 3-4 times, I can’t make it!! Managers have brought me a chair & water, where I sit near the check out, trying to recover. I live alone, and most friends/family are at least 25 miles away.

  • Lori

    I feel your pain! I made sure to live somewhere that is a mile from the closest gas station and CVS. The closest hospital is less than 4 miles. The only issue I have is close places to eat, unfortunately there are many nights I go to sleep hungry because I don’t have the energy to go to the grocery store or a restaurant to get food.

  • Oh yes! One of the big reasons I moved to a city from the middle of the countryside – especially one where I can *escape* to the countryside within half an hour’s train ride if I feel I need to. A lot of shops and takeaway food places here are open 24/7 or overnight, which helps a lot when my sleep schedule is flipped (which happens often, particularly in the winter). Buses, too, run later than in the countryside, even on Sundays, and I have better medical care here where I can switch practice if I want to than in the village where I was stuck with the same crap practice for 22 years (all the doctors in the practice brushed off my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome as ‘depression and growing pains’ – and I’m pretty sure ‘hypochondria’ came into it too, though they wouldn’t say that) for 15 years). I found an excellent GP here, who’s willing to learn about all the conditions I have that she’s not run into much or ever, and whom I can email articles when I find new research that could interest her. I also am in one of the very few cities in this country that has an EDS specialist rheumatologist. So I really made the right choice here, and I’m very glad!

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