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The Challenges of Moving Houses When You Live With EDS

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A week ago I moved to a new home. To say that the whole process was gruesome is an understatement. I started packing a month and a half before moving date. I did almost all of the packing on my own as my partner works in another province. He came for the actual move and we did most of the unpacking together. Despite the help and the fact we had movers for the actual move, my body felt like I had been in a small car accident. It felt like I had been beaten up all over, the level of exhaustion was beyond description.

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

Despite the excitement of getting in a new and beautiful house, after he left and I was alone in the house, I crashed. Debilitating migraines took away the joy and the exhaustion increased, and I almost felt ill from the pain. Depression set in together with anxiety as the new environment feels totally unfamiliar and is kind of remote and some distance away from any commercial neighborhood area.

The house feels too big, too bright, too cold. Compared with my old house which was the exact opposite and felt like a cocoon. Where I felt sheltered before I now feel exposed. Where it was warm and cozy now it feels kind of cold. Where I had wall to wall carpet now I have wooden floors. I suppose the new house must have had some appeal to me to choose it, even though it was a choice pressured by a sudden need to leave the old house due to it being put on the market for sale.

I feel uprooted, kind of pushed by circumstances into a new place, new environment, new lifestyle. My body wasn’t prepared for the amount of physical effort a move entails, neither my mind for that matter. I never thought moving could be so exhausting and so stressful. Now I understand why they say it is one of the worst stressors, I experienced it in my body and mind.

It is interesting though how quick one forgets. I forgot how it felt when I first moved into my first place in Victoria. I hardly had anything more than my suitcase then. Three years later I came out of there with a whole household of furniture and about 50 or so carton boxes! How do we accumulate things so fast? Back then I did feel stressed out and anxious too as well. Felt disoriented, but that neighborhood had a nice little village with lots of charming little shops and a congenial atmosphere. Here I am in the suburbs. No beautiful little village, no sense of neighborhood, only houses hidden away in beautiful, lush greenery.

The challenges of moving when struggling with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome hypermobility type are many and multifaceted. For myself it was muscle tears in the neck and lower back, subluxations of my wrists and ankles and slipped ribs together with some stomach pain from the worsening of my chronic gastritis due to the stress.

I give myself credit for being proactive and starting the packing early as that gave me the opportunity to tackle that at a pace which I could handle. The day of the move though I had to move much faster and for many hours. We got up at 5 in the morning, packed some more, the movers came at 9 and it took three hours to empty the old house and two hours to unload the stuff in the new place. Then we unpacked some and I finally crashed on the couch at 5 p.m. Dead to the world!

Then my partner had to leave again and I unpacked some more for the next few days. Different people do things in different ways, but for me it is essential to take advantage of the energy I have at the moment and do as much as possible at that time. I did this because I knew that I would be totally knackered after the move and if I didn’t do as much as I could I wouldn’t be able to move or do much after for quite a while. Being someone who needs to have a beautiful and harmonious environment, just the thought of having to live surrounded by full carton boxes bothered me. Enough to motivate me to push myself to the limit. And the limit did come. Eight days later and I feel like a zombie.

The only thing I want to do is lay on my bed, look outside the window and surf on my iPad. I strategically organize how many times I am going to go down the stairs and into the living room and kitchen as my hip joints are screaming from pain! Twice a day for my meals and that’s it. I don’t want to reach the stage where I will have to crawl upstairs.

I do enjoy the quiet though. I am sure that once this immense fatigue lifts I will be able to venture out for short little walks around the area. I will find the best places to do my grocery shopping. Preferably somewhere where I can combine different errands. I heard there are many small farms around so that is nice as I will be able to get fresh, organic food. Not sure where or how I will get to meet people, though. Living in the suburbs can be quite isolating. I may end up having to do a lot of driving which I will also have to organize carefully so as not to overdo it and exhaust myself again.

Living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome takes a lot of planning. One has to think beforehand what they need to do and then figure out the best practical way to go about it. How many errands? How far is one place from the other? How far from the parking spot is where one needs to go? Is it an incline or level ground? Is it too hot, too cold, too damp, too windy? Will one wake up with a migraine or not? An acute gastritis? An irritable bowel syndrome crisis? Tachycardia, dizziness, muscle weakness? Anxiety or depression? Will one be able to sit? Will one be able to get through the day? Is there anyone to call for help if needed?

Surviving a move is quite a thing. Plan carefully, get to it as early as you can and pace yourself. Don’t take a bath in epsom salts or have a massage before you are done, nor take too much magnesium – or you might dislocate or sublux right after. You need your muscles tight and strong while lifting and moving stuff. Get into a rhythm, slow and steady, gentle and consistent. Eat nutritious food with protein in small quantities, no sugar no caffeine and drink lots of water. Sleep well, take naps, take breaks. Good luck!

Getty Image by nd3000

Originally published: September 25, 2018
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