People say that moving to a new house is one of the most stressful things they've done in their lives.
Now, imagine how stressful it is moving to a new house during a global pandemic.
Then imagine doing all of that while coping with a chronic condition like migraine.
Doesn't sound too good? That's been my life for the last few months.
I had to delay moving house the first time
I bought my first home in 2007. It's a three-bed duplex in a lovely estate, just outside Dublin.
At the time, I had a five-year plan. When that half-decade was up, the plan was to sell the house and make enough profit to invest in my "forever home".
I didn't know that the worst recession to happen in my lifetime was around the corner. House prices in Ireland nosedived. I was unable to sell in my timeframe.
By 2019, my three-bed duplex was packed to capacity with my husband, Shaun, and our three boys.
As the boys got bigger, my husband and I realised we'd outgrown the house and needed more space. It would be lovely to have a garden for the children.
House prices might not have been what they once were, but I knew I was in a much better position to buy at this stage. Shaun and I had been dreaming for quite some time, so we had a good idea of what we wanted.
We knew the area we wanted to live in. It was just a matter of waiting until our dream house became available.
We found the perfect house
In February 2020, it all started happening for us. We found a four-bed home, with a large rear garden, close to both our jobs. We couldn't believe our luck!
Shaun warned me to play calm with the estate agent and not act too enthusiastic. I didn’t play by his rules. As soon as I was in the house, I was gushing over everything.
I'm not one to hide my emotions, and my estate agent knew he was onto a winner with me.
I turned to Shaun, "Give this man all our money, so we can live here ASAP!" Thankfully, Shaun also loved the house, and he calmly negotiated a price over the next few weeks.
Then lockdown happened
By the first week of March, we were good to go. Then – of course – the pandemic hit Ireland, and it hit hard. We went into full lockdown straight away.
Shaun and the boys were always at home and I was needed on ward duty in the hospital.
Our solicitor rang to say that the buyer for our duplex had pulled out during a particularly stressful shift. The market was too unstable, and he didn’t want to take the risk.
I was devastated. I had no idea if we would find another buyer during lockdown.
The uncertainty was horrible. I worked hard on the wards every day, and this house crisis added fuel to the fire. I wasn’t coping very well. I had daily migraines, and some weekends I couldn’t even get out of bed. It was hard to see a way forward.
On the plus side, I'd stayed in touch with the estate agent for the house we were buying.
I called him to discuss our options, although he was in the same uncertain place as everyone else.
I told him about our buyer pulling out and where we stood. I told him we were still desperate to buy the house. After some negotiation, the estate agent told us the seller would wait... but not for long!
Stress made my migraines worse
Stress was running very high. It was difficult to cope with the migraines that were flaring up. The one thing that got me through was my work colleagues. Although COVID-19 was rampant on the wards, we all fiercely supported each other. It was great to talk and get advice from them.
Then, my estate agent called with good news. The buyer for the duplex was still interested, but at a reduced rate. After some negotiation on both sides, we reached a deal. Shaun and I thought we'd been through the mill, but we were only at the beginning.
Next, there were virtual meetings, phone calls, and emails flying everywhere.
The paperwork was stressful enough. Despite the constant migraines, I did everything at lightning speed.
I feared things would go wrong at any moment.
I wish I’d thought of my health more
Now, in hindsight, I wish I had done everything at a steadier pace. The rushing didn't help my health, and I almost buckled under the pressure. My husband was more than happy to help with the day-to-day issues so I could recover. Yet, I can be head-strong and I wanted to make sure everything went without a glitch.
Then our moving date got delayed. We were supposed to move in on a Friday but were held up until the following Thursday. We had to sleep on mattresses and tell the moving company to rearrange the date.
When we finally moved in, I was so happy – it almost felt like the stress and migraines were worth it.
Remember to put your health first
Everyone has a moving story. It's never easy. But for those living with a chronic health condition, it’s important to remember to look after and protect ourselves.
I didn't do too well at that. If I've learned anything from this experience, it's to take my time. The stress and migraines I put myself through were unnecessary. I should have let my husband take the lead more. I should have put my health first.
I will be forever grateful that it worked out, but I know the process could have been easier.
NPS-IE-NP-00262 April 2021