IBD & House Hunting

When I first began showing symptoms of IBD back in the fall of 2009, I was living with a roommate in a high rise apartment in the city and had just started a new, demanding job. Over the first year of illness, I was in and out of doctors offices and the hospital, and I spent a lot of time staying back in the suburbs at my mom’s house. I moved to a walk-up apartment with a new roommate the next summer but still found myself spending time getting taken care of back at home. I was lucky and grateful to have both options, but going back and forth became exhausting and paying for rent and utilities I wasn’t using began to feel frustrating.

Support from my parents

Over the next four and a half years, I lived at home. I was appreciating the comforts and support of my parents, the rent-free lifestyle, and the continual offer for dinner to be on the table without much effort or thought on my end. Looking back, I don’t know how I would’ve survived during that time without that luxury. My parents were incredibly supportive in the ways that they could be, and they gave me a lot of time and space to work through the things that came along with IBD. Mainly for me, my mental and emotional health were a struggle with IBD. As you can guess, however, being in your mid to late twenties and living at home did also bring some struggles and challenges for me, especially when I was well enough to cultivate friendships and some type of social life.

Two bathrooms were a must for living with a significant other

In January, 2016, ironically just weeks before getting formally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, my then boyfriend and I moved into a condo back in the city. I was working remotely, which reduced any need for commuting, and I wasn’t so much on my own, as I knew he would help fill some of the gaps I was creating by moving away from home again. For three and a half years, we've lived in this condo - one that I was adamant about having 2 bathrooms, and it’s mostly been really good.

We’ve been about 15-20 minutes from my doctors, the hospital and the infusion center, and close enough for my now husband to make round trips when I was inpatient or forgot things I needed. It's been easy enough for me to take uber or rideshare when I wasn’t feeling able to drive, and with the accessibility of delivery service for pharmacy, grocery and other regularly needed items when I didn’t feel well enough to go out. For me, these things have been critical for managing my disease, my quality of life, and my ability to be somewhat independent.

As I write this, I am currently in my third trimester of pregnancy with our first child, and we realized that the place we’ve called home all this time is no longer big enough for our growing family. Thus... house hunting began.

Just as when we searched for this condo years ago, I had several similar priorities.

Priorities for a new house when living with IBD

Bathroom access

In our new house, I wanted a minimum of 3 bathrooms. One for me, one for our child/kids one day, and one for guests. The anxiety of an occupied bathroom at a seconds notice was just more than I was willing to sign up for.

Temperature regulation

I also wanted the option of better temperature regulation. With my IBD, I almost always run warm, and in the condo we’ve been living in, we only have access to air conditioning during the summer months. Living on the 28th floor with huge floor to ceiling windows, we get a lot of sunlight and tend to keep our balcony door open year round, but I felt like it would be really helpful if I could control our climate (and my body temperature) year round in a new place.

Proximity to doctors

In addition to my OBGYN, I regularly see a GI, a Rheumatologist, a therapist, a psychiatrist, and I go to the infusion center every 3 weeks. I also need access to an urgent care/emergency room at all times. We had set up all of these things years ago when we moved to the condo, and continuity was important to me. Our geographic parameters for the new house included still being able to see my current providers without adding a lot of distance/hassle, as continuity of care is very important to me.

Rest and breaks while house hunting

House hunting itself has been an interesting endeavor. Thank goodness for the internet! We worked with a realtor who sent us literally hundreds of search results online, which I was able to view, sort through, and rank from the comfort of my laptop on my couch. This helped my husband and I to make a lot of decisions without expending a ton of energy. When it came time to start going to showings, we never scheduled more than 3 in one day and made sure that there were breaks in between for me to use the restroom, hydrate, and get a snack.

I’m excited to share that we did find a new place, about 30 minutes away from our current condo but still nearby to my doctors and care providers, it has 3.5 bathrooms (so 4 toilets!!) and we will be moving in next month - before the baby arrives!

How have living accommodations, house hunting, and moving been impacted by your Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis? I’d love to hear your stories below!

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