Moving with TED

I was diagnosed with thyroid eye disease (TED) in the fall of 2018, 2 months before I was supposed to graduate college. Any dreams or ambitions I had after I graduated were put aside when I was diagnosed. The symptoms were too intense and overwhelming for me to think about the future. My reality was flipped upside down. I just had to get through the present before I could focus on the future.

Connection to where I live

I moved to Colorado when I was 12 because my dad got a job. I never felt connected to the area. I appreciated how pretty it was, living so close to the mountains, but being a mile high caused a lot of health problems neither my family, nor I, could have anticipated. It was really hard to breathe, which made daily life more challenging.

However, it was where I ended up, so I put up with it. I went to college there. I got jobs in the area. But I always knew I wanted to get out. There is a stereotype is that it is really hard to leave your hometown. It is true. People stay, not because they like it necessarily, but because it’s what they know. I have always known I wanted to leave, I just did not know how.

First step

In the summer of 2021, I housesat my cousin’s house for 2 months in California while they drove cross country to visit our family in Maine. I drove out with my mom and lived in her house.

Most of my TED symptoms had lessened by then, but my depth perception issues were still hanging on. I would run into everything in that house, especially in the beginning. I really learned how my eyes work in new spaces.

While I knew I was always going to go back to Colorado, spending time in California and living someplace different, especially at sea level, gave me the urge to really try to move to someplace I felt more connected to.

Arriving back in Colorado, I promised myself I would not be there long. That I would find some way to leave the town I have lived in for far too long. It took 22 months before I would fulfill this promise.

Something new: Moving with thyroid eye disease

At the beginning of this year, the opportunity came up for me to move close to some family in New England. One of my family members has a mother-in-law apartment off their house and it would be available in summer. I thought about it for a while and realized this was my chance to get out. Live someplace new, someplace I have had connections to since I was a little child. I took it.

I am writing this essay from the apartment, on the kitchen table. It’s very green outside. I go to the beach often. I take walks and appreciate how easy it is to breathe. I love how my eyes are not as sensitive as they used to be. And I do not bump into furniture the way I did a few years ago. Something new but familiar. A fresh start never felt so good.

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