Friday, October 30, 2009

Fibromyalgia Scientist Case Study: Grocery Shopping

Example of an American grocery store aisle.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:
  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. Going shopping during off-peak times, when the store is less crowded.
  4. 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.
Grocery shopping is a task that requires planning and extra rest before and afterward.  It is definitely reserved for days when I have no other plans that require me to leave the house.  As a fibromyalgia scientist, I've succeeded making it about 50% more fibro-friendly, which is significant because every little change I can make helps me manage my life with chronic illness better.

How do you cope with everyday tasks when living with chronic illness?  Leave me a comment and share your strategies.   

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Busymoms said...

I agree with your action its is getting past the way I feel about using a walker or the scooter..but yes going to walmart etc. what ever you can do to make things easier ..as you can not lift bags..then coming home you have all the groceries to put away.
Second I do not shop on weekends or busy times. It is exhausting waiting in line..
Second you are correct about the list..
Third if you are on a budget limited by a disability pension there is sometimes little room for food.
What I do Is I go to our local farmers market later in the after noon and get all kinds of deals on fruit and veggies... sometimes a dollar each.
Third then I freeze what I can not use and put them in baggie size so I can take out what I need just for two people.
Four the best appliance I have is my crockpot...

Selena said...

Thanks for your comment Busymoms! These are great additional suggestions. I just started using my crock pot again and it is fabulous! I also trying freezing some of my extra veggies from my garden this summer ... I'll have to let you know how this works out.

Hayzell said...

I completely relate! Shopping is super exhausting for me, especially if I don't have a helping hand. I really hope that we get technology like the Japanese super quick. They've got a robot that helps you while shopping. You can see a video and article about it Photo by here.

Selena said...

OMG Hayzell! I want a shopping buddy robot now. Too bad it is one assistive device that is probably waaaay out of my price range. LOL! Thanks for your comment. :-)