There isn’t much I could write about the general moving experience that hasn’t already been said. Most of us will move dwellings at lease once in our lives. Everyone knows it’s a hassle. I… well it’s hard to keep count… I have moved over 30 times. I’ve moved countries, states, cities, towns, villages, houses, apartments, and rooms. After my 10th or so move, each time that I pack up my belongings and head somewhere new, I swear that it will be the last time. But, it never is.
My last 6 moves have been the most physically challenging. I moved, most recently, one week ago. Just as I mentioned with my piece on traveling, my experience and ideas of moving were incredibly different before my body broke. I would have called moving a pain and an inconvenience. I would have complained about the cost and the time. It never occurred to me that my relative comfortability with the process would dissolve. Now, when I call moving a pain, I mean it literally.
Whew! Pain. I mean, how do you describe the agony and soul crushing levels of pain that accompany moving whilst broken? I don’t think there are accurate words for it. Terms like burning, stabbing, aching, radiating, and twisting feel shallow. Torture and brutal feel hyperbolic. It hurts. It’s the type of pain that makes chronic sufferers shake out from our daily distress fog and notice the change.
Here are some techniques and tips that I’ve implemented over my last few jumps. They’ve helped soothe the severity of moving pains:
1) Plan ahead. I know that this one is obvious to some of you, but I’m not a planner. Or, I should say, I wasn’t a planner. Knowing the exact time and date of your move, having transportation lined up, pre-arranging all of your new utilities, and taking care of small administrative tasks helps ease the mental load.
2) Take your time packing. I use to pack up about 2-3 days before a move. That doesn’t work for me anymore. Setting out open boxes and packing a few items a day, means that you won’t burn out. Wrapping up a plate here and a vase there. That extra time leaves space so that bad days and flares don’t derail the entire process.
3) Ask for help. Yeah. This one always sucks. Understanding and acknowledging your limitations will make sure that you don’t hurt yourself or cause predictable symptoms. There are ways of being strategic about this. You need assistance with troublesome items and projects. Just don’t overwhelm people with a demanding attitude or by constantly asking for small favors. Save your calls for when you really need them.
4) Hire people. Of course this one comes with a caveat: when you can. Hiring movers/packers/assembly people/etc. has been one of my greatest lessons. It has changed and opened back up my ability to move. You can find large companies that provide moving services online. There are also wonderful apps like, Task Rabbit and Angie’s List, where you can find independent workers who charge by the hour for specific services. Posting a request on local social media or community group pages for paid help is usually fruitful. Churches and schools often offer assistance for a small fee or donation. Some people are even willing to do a trade- labor for a talent or skill that you can offer in return. Seriously. Hire help whenever possible.
5) Make your new space livable, not perfect. You, and anyone else moving with you, needs to feel comfortable in a new home. Take care to arrange your furniture and boxes in a way that is safe, yet accessible. Remember that it can be temporary. You don’t have to fix your entire home up immediately. Make your self-care spaces a priority. For instance, setting up your bed and a most used chair is more important than hanging your clothes nicely or filling a bookshelf. Just take it slow. That restraint is worthwhile for your body.
6) Get familiar with your local pharmacy and grocery stores. I’ve been trying to move to locations where I have easy access to my necessities. Then, I familiarize myself with the stores and employees. Transferring prescriptions, finding survival items, and getting groceries without too much hassle is so important. It melts some of the stress and tension that go along with bringing new people into your invisible illness world. Do this early, even before you need meds or food.
I’m not on the other side of my moving pains yet. My feet still feel the squeeze and burn of the day. My hands get sore and fumbly unpacking boxes and scouring dirty surfaces. There are moments where my fatigue is so profound that I just stop in the middle of a task and lay down. Not to sleep, to rest. Just to close my gritty eyes and calm a looming migraine.
Being kind to myself is key. I’m mostly through the important boxes. My primary furniture is set up and my kitchen is very functional. I save up energy for much needed excursions and pay for it when I go too hard. Everything will slowly find its place, even though I want to hurry and make it cozy. I keep looking in the mirror and saying, “I did it”. I moved and lived to tell the tale. Now, I’m home. Until next time.