Relocating with RA: NYC!

I have some exciting news: I've decided to move to New York City at the end of April! It's something I've been thinking about for quite a while, yet until recently I had never actually come up with any concrete plans to do it. For years I've felt stuck in Minneapolis and in a rut--career-wise, relationship-wise, creatively. Despite many efforts to improve things here, in my hometown, I just haven't been able to move my life forward in the way that I want. My family is here and I will miss them a lot, but I've decided that I really need to give this a shot. Being the anxious, neurotic person I am, of course I'm filled with worries and second thoughts about doing this. Picking up and moving is a big step and a demanding challenge--physically and emotionally. It's not easy for anybody, but especially if you have RA.

So why move so soon and in April? Well, it seems that the stars have possibly "aligned" regarding the timing of all of this. I was recently invited to participate in a health conference in Jersey City, NJ in mid-April. When I found out the location of the conference, I was happily surprised. I joked to myself, Jersey City?! It's fate! Last November I went to Boston for a similar type of health conference and then I traveled to New York to visit friends and kind of "scope it out" with the idea of moving there at some point in the near future. During part of the New York trip, I stayed with my friend Laura who moved a year ago from Minneapolis to Jersey City. I had a blast with her there and since my return to Minneapolis, she's been so great about supporting my desire to move to the East Coast and make all of these life changes. I also met some really awesome new friends of hers when I stayed with her; the trip became such a wonderful, motivating experience.

Maybe this trip to Jersey City is fate, I don't know. After a long phone conversation with Laura one night, with me hemming and hawing and being my usual indecisive self, she helped me make a firm decision to make the move in April after the conference. "You can do it!" she said. Yes, I can do it. I WILL do it! I have a one-way plane ticket booked for Newark, arriving a few days early to stay and hang out with Laura before the conference that weekend. Then after the conference, I'll be staying for two weeks in Brooklyn while I use that time to look for a long-term apartment. YIKES. That's the plan, anyway.

Looking for an apartment, packing, leaving family and friends, sorting out your finances--these are all major challenges when trying to move somewhere new. But one of the biggest challenges and stresses about moving for me is figuring out my health care: finding a new rheumatologist and internist, sorting out health insurance, transferring medical records, making sure I can get the medications and treatments I need. What a headache! And of course I've been procrastinating with taking care of all of these things, which is causing more stress. I have been making some progress, but I'm not very organized or prepared yet.

Time is running out, too, to make sure that I can get my next monthly Actemra infusion in New York at the end of April. I just started Actemra in January after receiving Remicade infusions for the last eight years. It's still too soon to tell if it's working or how well it's working, so I know it wouldn't be wise to miss a dose during this tricky trial period. And I know that rheumatologists often have long waiting lists for new patients and that it could take months for me to get in to see someone in New York. Hopefully this won't be the case and I have been working to get in to see a specific rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, recommended to me by a fellow RA friend. The good news is that this particular doctor is accepting new patients right now, but the bad news is that I've been playing phone tag with the clinic and I don't have an appointment yet. However, if I can't get in to see a new rheumatologist in New York in time to get my next Actemra infusion, I do have the option to have the medication shipped to me and I can give myself the injections rather than having an I.V. infusion. I'd prefer not to do this, but if I have to, then I have to. At my last rheumatologist appointment, I spoke with my doctor about it and he said that he would help provide care for me while I'm in transition if I need it. This is a huge relief, I must say.

Another relief is that I don't need to find new health insurance at this point. I spoke with someone at my insurance company who told me that I can keep my Minnesota Health Partners plan because they are partnered with Cigna in New York. Nothing will change with my plan or benefits; I just need to find doctors that are in the Cigna network. Whew! I can do this until I find new insurance and/or make any kind of decision about staying in New York permanently. Insurance issues and changes make me very nervous, which is understandable because of how expensive health care is. I'm already drowning in medical debt, but I still can't afford to go any deeper. I need to call Health Partners again and confirm what I was told about Cigna providers and make sure that the rheumatologist I'm trying to see will be covered. I hope it all works out!

Right now, the majority of my time and energy has been focused on working hard to make and save money and getting my health care needs taken care of. It's exhausting. But maybe it's better that I've been distracted by this part of the impending move rather than worrying about the emotional aspects of it. I don't know. What I do know is that it's going to be a major challenge and change, but a change for the good, I hope. I'm ready to start a new chapter and adventure in my life and I don't want anything to hold me back--especially not RA!

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