4 Tips for Moving When You Are Chronically Ill

I recently stepped into the scary awesomeness known as home ownership. Exciting news right? Anxiety everywhere for this girl! A couple weeks prior to closing, I underwent gallbladder removal surgery. I was still on lifting restrictions and recovering when I went to the office to drown in all the closing paperwork. And then there’s the ever-so-present fibro and rheumatoid arthritis.

Here I was weak, sore, tired, and approaching a flare, with the key to my new home in my hand. How was I going to do this? On an average day with chronic illness, getting out of bed takes more than one spoon. How was I going to successfully move? I am by no means a professional, but here’s what I did, and I’d say it all turned out pretty well!

1. Make lists.

Brain fog never sleeps. I made lists for just about everything because I knew my mind was going to be everywhere. There was a list of phone calls I needed to make after signing, like putting electricity and utilities placed in my name. A list of what I needed to do when I first received the keys, such as changing the locks, get the furnace serviced, etc. There was a list of chores I needed to do before I started moving things in, which included my need to sweep, mop, vacuum, bleach counters, change the toilet seat, etc.

Then I made a list of bigger projects, like painting and fixing a window. Let’s not forget the list of supplies for all those projects! I made a list of things that will eventually need to be done in the house, and a list of things I need to invest in, like a generator, lawnmower, and snow blower.

There were a ton more, but I think you get the point. In my personal experience, there’s no such thing as too many lists. I had them on my phone as well. Every night for the first few weeks, I would make a small list in my phone of what I needed to do the next day. I put lists on the fridge and checked items off as I went along.

2. Ask for help.

A no-brainer, right? Everyone needs help moving. But I’m talking about real help. Not temporary help or the, “I’m available for an hour on Friday and that’s it,” type of help. Definitely not the, “drop it all off and leave,” type of help. I mean, real, genuine, out of the kindness of the heart type of help. The ones that stick with you because they know you don’t feel well. The ones that see through your pride and stubbornness and just show up because they know you might not ask. Go for those people.

The ones who will basically climb in the oven to clean it. The ones who get on their hands and knees and scrub because they know you most likely won’t be able to get off the floor if you get down there. The ones who are handy and don’t mind helping. The ones that know it’s going to take more than one big trip in one day to get moved in and comfy. The ones who not only move the big stuff in, but don’t leave until it’s set up. Ask for that type of help. Don’t waste your breath on anyone who isn’t going to sincerely help without complaining and/or ditching you prematurely.

3. Take your time.

This was huge for me. There was no time limit for me. I didn’t have to be out of my previous residence in a rush, and I’m single and have no kids – so I could take as much time as I needed to make the move. I moved things in very slowly. The smaller things I could fit in my car and lift on my own went first. It took me about three weeks of slowly moving small things in and setting things up before I moved my bed in and stayed the night.

4. Do it your way.

This pretty much sums up this entire post. Do it how you want. Take as long as you want, if your situation permits. Don’t let people tell you how it should or shouldn’t be done. Your method won’t make sense to most, but you must do what’s right for your body. Sure, I wasted tons of gas taking about 30 trips to my old house to move things, but it worked for me. In my anxiety-stricken mind, it was easier to bring small things in and organize them than to deal with a huge pile of boxes in the middle of my living room to rummage through. Maybe you can handle the cleaning, set up and organization of one room all in one day. Maybe you can only handle cleaning that room the first day, setting up the furniture the next day, then organizing and decorating that room the next day. Listen to your body and work around how you feel.

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