Last summer my husband and I bought our first home together. For about a decade we had been happy renters, but the moment we saw our eventual home on a “let’s just check it out” whim—we were in love.
Our old place was on the seventh floor and we had great views of a large park and a balcony that overlooked the street. Unfortunately, while the park was beautiful the street traffic was loud. And we never spent as much time on the balcony as we intended because it was physically difficult for me to get out there. The door was too narrow for my wheelchair and there was a metal threshold to step over that always gave me a fear of tripping.
An accessible home
Our new home has the old beat with a beautiful and accessible patio! The door is wide enough for my wheelchair. And we purchased two little ramps that get me easily and safely over the threshold. The space is also larger than our previous balcony so we have a table and chairs, along with many planters, while still having lots of space.
Last year we moved mid-summer, so didn’t quite fully settle into the patio. We made it comfortable, but this spring we purchased additional pots and started our gardening as soon as the cold weather broke. It really feels like a retreat from the world!
Just about every weekend you can find me outside on the patio. I usually take a book (and often a glass of wine), but my favorite moments are just chatting with my husband and watching nature.
The patio is on the edge of a large courtyard surrounded by our condo building and a fence, so it is nice and quiet. However, we get lots of squirrels and birds to watch! I never tire of seeing what they are up to. The activity began in early spring with nest making and finding mates, then we heard the chirps of babies, and now can see them flying and searching for food.
Everyday's a vacation!
When we bought our condo I said: “it will feel like being on vacation every day!” And it truly does. What I meant is that we have a quiet retreat for enjoying nature and taking a breather from the stress of work or health issues. Our home is more than just a home, it is a refuge.
I don’t think I appreciated having a home that is also a retreat before. Since moving out of my parent’s home, where I lived was often a place I would sleep and eat. It didn’t feel necessarily mine or something that I could shape. I suppose a big difference is the ownership part—feeling like we have more control on what we do to our home and also a pride in what we make of it.
Life with rheumatoid arthritis can be extremely stressful. Not just during the times I am feeling terrible, but also dealing with the details of insurance, paying for care, and managing health obstacles. It is exhausting. And it feels so good to have a break from it. Maybe a few hours on the patio doesn’t sound so exciting. But it is calm and quiet—no demands, just enjoyment.
I think we all need a place where we can find some relaxation and recovery. For me, creating our patio has become that special retreat where I can recharge. It’s more than a part of my home or a hobby, it is a place where my worries can be quiet for a time and I can take a break.
Where do you find respite from the cares of the world?
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?