Moving home to the north east, the best is yet to come!
Finding a suitable place to live that’s at the opposite end of the country was always going to be a bit of a challenge.
Clearly the distance from the South East to the North East was a barrier, but a whole other level of difficulty was added through the pandemic. I was shielding, the whole world was pretty much in lockdown and we weren’t sure when life might resemble anything like it had before the start of 2020. Admittedly, the timing wasn’t great for taking on one of life’s most stressful activities!
Newcastle or Middlesbrough?
Being closer to loved ones was our number one reason for moving, but that didn’t have to mean living on the next street down. The beauty of the North East is that its major towns and cities like Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are all within easy reach. This was going to work out great, as wherever we ended up settling my friends and family were dotted all over the region – I could see anyone in 30 to 40 minutes max from anywhere northbound or southbound without breaking a sweat. Unlike the nightmare of travelling on the M25 and A27 we’d gotten used to!
My boyfriend had job interviews lined up for Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and James Cook in Middlesbrough so naturally we assumed the final decision of exactly where we would live would hinge on where the job was based.
There was so much to be excited about, especially the prospect of being near Newcastle. Before COVID, a close friend had started managing a new French restaurant in the city centre I hadn’t had the chance to visit yet. I hadn’t ever been visiting home at the same time as Newcastle Restaurant Week to take advantage of the discounts at its many, many, many restaurants and bars – that was something my boyfriend and I were looking forward to. The food is so much better than where we lived in my opinion – I couldn’t get a stottie for years! And even though Brighton is a great night out, I think Newcastle is more wheelchair-friendly – especially with the Metro. That’s becoming more important to me these days, not only when out and about, but at home too. We decided to only look at bungalows when house-hunting with this in mind.
Also on the list of must-haves were things like a drive and garage, a nice garden, at least one spare room, a kitchen with an island or breakfast bar, and of course, decent accessibility. Once we had a shortlist, we spent a lot of time researching the local area. I didn’t want the stress of finding the likes of a new GP when we arrived in case the house was perfect but the health and wellbeing provision was crap!
Looking online at the NHS pages for surgeries, I checked for patient numbers and found reviews of the GPs. If anywhere didn’t tick our boxes, it got crossed off the list straight away.
Transferring care was a real worry
Thinking about transferring my care was something I felt very anxious about. I already had an amazing GP and a good relationship – giving that up was a real worry.
I knew someone at home who was under a rheumatology team I could have been referred to, but wasn’t sure. I wish I’d been an Arthur’s Place member back then and asked people on the Facebook social group for recommendations.
My specialist in London helped massively. I’d always had the option to share care with a local team as she wasn’t based in my area. I decided it wasn’t worth the risk because of my health complications and she’s able to put things in place to help with the distance, like giving me contact email addresses for all the nurses, talking on the phone and I have rolling appointments.
I’d started swimming about a year before the pandemic and missed it while shielding. I realised how important it was for giving me an energy boost and mentally knowing I was contributing to my own welfare. I wanted to keep that up. I knew it couldn’t be any old pool though – it had to be heated with decent changing rooms for instance, rather than designed for potentially lots of germ-magnets (kids)!
I found a health club near to my parents and close to some friends that could work. It was a little more than I wanted to pay but it was lush! And it meant I had the option to tie-in visits.
The best is yet to come
Moving back was a harder decision than I imagined. I wasn’t keen to let go but my boyfriend put it into perspective with some revelations I hadn’t really thought about.
The majority of life had, for a long time, revolved around going to work. It was like being on a treadmill of working all the time, getting home and flaking, then getting back up to do it again. The cost of living in the South East is so extortionately expensive, I had to keep working like that. The reduction in rent alone would save us a fortune and meant I could step down. My boyfriend reminded me that having that energy meant we could have date night again, instead of eating tea in bed, exhausted. We’d also be able to afford a deposit to buy a place of our own.
I feel like I’ve missed out on those opportunities in some ways. That, and relationships with people I’m close to – definitely those that have had kids I haven’t been able to see grow up. That’s been hard – especially my goddaughter Ella. I would have loved to have been closer for more of her life. But now, I get to be there for the next bit and that means the world to me.
All there is to do is wait to hear back after my boyfriend’s interviews, then the fun of moving house with arthritis really starts!
ABOUT BECCY DUFFY
North East native Beccy is in her 30s and lives with her boyfriend and their gorgeous, beloved cat, Luna. After finding out she had EDS, Beccy had further diagnoses of chronic illnesses including RA and OA, which came in 2014. In her spare time she enjoys wheelchair racing, spending time with friends and family and is a talented artist and cook. She fights like a badass warrior princess every day.
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