Image via Wikipedia
Over the past few days I've been talking about how I have embraced becoming a fibromyalgia scientist (see How to Become a Fibromyalgia Scientist and Embracing My Life as a "Fibromyalgia Scientist"). Then I went grocery shopping today with my husband and realized that despite my best efforts to make this task fibro-friendly, nothing short of a significant recovery would make this 100% easier. Like taking a shower, grocery shopping is a workout.
The first thing I grab when I walk through the sliding glass doors is the shopping scooter the grocery store provides. This is by far the pivotal strategy I employ that makes grocery shopping more manageable. At this point, I make it a point to exclusively patronize the stores that I know provide shopping scooters. I used to bring my rolling walker, but quickly realized that it wasn't the right tool for the job. How did I come to this realization? By reviewing my symptom levels for the next several day following a trip to the grocery store using an activity log. I found that when I used the shopping scooter, there was definitely less "payback", i.e. increased symptoms and increased need for rest.
Not only did I need to acknowledge that I needed to use a mobility aid to grocery shop, I also had to adjust my mindset about using one---and so did my husband. The most difficult part of having an invisible chronic illness is that you don't look sick and sometimes people give you funny looks when you pull into a disabled parking space, using a mobility aid or don't give up your seat for someone else. What helped me get over this mental hang-up was seeing what a positive difference using these resources made in helping me better managing my symptoms. Once I was sold on their utility, and my husband could see the difference as well, we started caring less and less about how other people judged me when I used helpers like the shopping scooter.
My other grocery shopping strategies include:
- Always bringing someone along with me when I go grocery shopping. I ask them to help by loading the groceries onto the conveyor belt at the checkout and into the car. And if I get too tired, I can ask them to drive home.
- Beating fibro-fog by always shopping with a list and having my shopping companion double-check to make sure I put everything on the list into the cart.
- Going shopping during off-peak times, when the store is less crowded.
- Breaking the task of putting the groceries away into steps. First, I focus on getting the perishables into the refrigerator and leave the dry goods in the grocery bags. Then I rest. When I am rested, I return to the kitchen and put away the dry goods.
How do you cope with everyday tasks when living with chronic illness? Leave me a comment and share your strategies.