One of my least favourite tasks as an adult is grocery shopping. Just ask my husband, I strategically avoid doing it by having him pick up items on his way home from work. When I have to do it, I loathe it because I know it’s going to be painful and annoying, and it’s basically the only major thing I’ll be able to do that day.
I start out with the best of intentions–a thorough list, broken down into the aisles and sections where I’ll find the products I need, and my budget. By the time I get in there, it only takes about five minutes for the pain and fatigue to kick in. When I’m tired and distracted by pain, I start to lose focus and momentum. I’ll forget something from my list and have to go back for it.
By the time I reach the cashier, the pain fog is so thick that I swear I lose brain cells.
I’ve been doing that weekly meal prep thing, where you plan out what meals you’re going to have and shop accordingly. I try to make as much of it as I can in advance, so that I can just reheat a meal on my really bad pain days. Since tomorrow is a PA day and I’ll be stuck at home with all the children (my two, and four extras that I’m watching), off to the store I went. I struggle with math, it requires so much focus that I actually can’t tally the numbers up in my head when I’m shopping. I just get so flustered, so I have to use my calculator to ensure I stay under budget. This means I’m pushing a cart, reading a list, and punching in numbers while I go.
Naturally, I forgot a few items and had to back track. I was sloppy, distracted, and trying my best to keep under budget.
When I reached the cashier forty-five minutes later, my wrist was throbbing from picking up heavy cans just out of my reach (cans that probably aren’t considered “heavy” by a healthy person’s standards). I could scarcely stand on my left knee and my hips were trying to over compensate for that. My back hurt and my feet hurt.
I was beyond done.
I was dreading having to bag my own groceries–not because I think the cashiers should have to do it for customers, hell I agree most of the time it’s faster if the customers do it, but because it’s a lot of wrist movements and lifting and the pain in my wrist makes me extremely slow and cautious with this task. My anxiety sky-rockets because I believe that everyone is staring at me, thinking about how slow I am and wishing I’d hurry the hell up.
When I overthink it, I’m even slower. I drop things, my hands shake, and it’s actually quite a horrible feeling that leaves me feeling very drained.
So, I was worrying about all of this while I waited in line and a woman tried to speak to me. I didn’t hear her twice, and the third time I misheard her. I’m sure she thought I was rude, and I feel guilty for that possibility. I don’t enjoy coming across as rude or entitled, but when I’m in a dense pain fog, I’m operating on my most basic of functions and apparently, listening isn’t one of them.
I don’t think healthy people realize how exhausting chronic pain is, and how every day, simple tasks that they do without issue are such a big deal to us. But as hard as these tasks are, we value our independence.