When I turned 30, I had a feeling my life was entering a new phase and that I was going to find myself in a very different place by the end of the year. Turns out, I was right: in just a few weeks, I will be packing my bags and moving to Baltimore to start a new job and a new life!
For nearly seven years, New York City has been my home and has witnessed some pretty formative moments in my life: starting my career, moving into my own apartment, getting sick, getting better, and becoming a blogger. Leaving New York means leaving a whole chapter of my life behind and embracing a new city and whatever it may bring.
A big move like this can be very exciting, but it is also daunting, particularly when you are bringing along an autoimmune disease. On top of all the other changes it will bring, it's going to mean new doctors, switching insurance companies, figuring out COBRA, and then there is the physical move itself. Even though I am hiring movers to do most of the packing and the heavy lifting, there are still closets to clean out and plenty of unpacking to do on the other end of the move. Oh, and don't forget the stress that comes with planning the move and the havoc that can wreak!
Making the decision to take all of this on was not an easy one; after all, there are so many reasons to stay where I am. I love being in New York City, and finally feel like I have achieved the sort of life I always imagined I would have here. Most of my close friends are here, and I love the feeling of constant possibility that exists in New York City- how you never really know where the day will take you once you leave your apartment. But this constant excitement and stimulation has a double edge -- it can be completely exhausting and draining. Although I'm doing really well these days, there is no doubt that New York City is an incredibly difficult place to live when you are sick. It's impossible to avoid lots of walking, and if you use the subway all the time like I do, it's equally impossible to avoid stairs or having to stand on a crowded subway train. Financially, the additional medical costs that come with having a chronic disease make an already expensive city downright costly. In the end, living in New York City long term didn't feel like it would be the greatest thing for my body or for me.
Living in a smaller city like Baltimore, on the other hand, will make my day-to-day life a little easier - and cheaper! To start with, in addition to being a step forward in my career, my new job comes with excellent benefits, not the least of which is a more manageable schedule, so it won't be as taxing and exhausting. I'll have a lot more time to take better care of myself, including more time to sleep, practice yoga, and finally try acupuncture. Having a car again will mean I won't have to lug home heavy bags of groceries all the time. I'll be able to do laundry in my new building, too, instead of hauling it across the street. And when my RA acts up, I'll finally be able to soak my poor joints in a hot, steamy bathtub- a luxury my tiny Manhattan studio doesn't afford. Plus, Baltimore itself has a lot to offer. It may not be as glamorous as New York City, but it still has heaps of great restaurants, beautiful museums and libraries, and some of the top hospitals and medical institutions in the country, which is a big consideration for a girl like me.
Most of all, I am looking forward to starting a new adventure and not letting RA hold me back. There was a time after I was diagnosed that, as tough as New York could be, the mere idea of moving felt impossible. I felt bound to my health insurance and doctors, and couldn't imagine being well enough to take on something as overwhelming as a move. My RA felt like a huge ball and chain that would forever trap me where I was and keep me from moving forward in my life.
Thankfully, two years later, I know this is not the case. Yes, RA makes everything more complicated, but it isn't going to stop me from making a change I want to make. I can't wait to stride into a new city and make it my own. In many ways, Baltimore is one small step for me, but one giant leap for me against RA.
Sara is the author of the blog, The Single Gal's Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis and a partner in the Buckle Me Up International Young Arthritis Awareness Movement.
Published On: August 19, 2009