July 9, 2020

Grocery Shopping With Chronic Illness

There used to be a time when my husband would home from a long day at work, and I'd grab my lists and head out for a shopping trip. I'd go alone because it was my only break from the kids all month. If I had a little extra spending money, I'd make extra stops at fabric stores or other craft-type places before hitting several different grocery stores. Shopping for a large family on a budget takes time and energy to find the deals. It's definitely not a one-stop shop kind of thing.

Then I'd load it all into the vehicle and drive home in traffic then carry at least half of it into the house then put it all away (which could take up to 20 or 30 minutes if things needed to be organized to fit). And usually when that was finished, it was time to cook dinner. Only after an hour of cooking would I finally get to sit down and rest after being on my feet and on the go for hours. That was just life.

Shopping now is so different. I barely remember that other life. For one, I don't drive anymore. Well, I do, but never farther than the supermarket in town and that's only if we run out of something in between main shopping trips (too expensive to shop there for everything). It's two miles away, and I can take back roads. And I only drive if I feel alert enough.

My husband does most of the shopping on his way home from work because, one, it's just easier then driving all of the way home to pick me up as the stores are between his work and the house, and two, the pandemic. But occasionally, I do go with because I do all of the cooking and know what food, brands, and deals to look for her (he just grabs whatever).

So today we headed to Costco after he got home from work. I was already tired and trying to make lunch when he got home but got overwhelmed with the kids fighting over doing dishes or something. I just left my food on the counter and went back to my room because it wasn't worth the mental/emotional stress. Especially since eating was just going to make me more tired and irritable. My husband made me eat anyway and then we went to the store.

I did surprisingly well. I usually get super fatigued while walking around the store. By the time we get to checkout, my back and/or hips are hurting so bad I'm in tears (that's from putting on about 30lbs over the last year on top of already being nearly 100lbs overweight). But I managed to walk all the way around Costco without feeling out of breath even with the mask on or wanting to just take a nap.

I was very tired when we got in the car which I told my husband about as I lamented about having to go home and still put all of the food away. And it was a lot of food because we were stocking up for the first time in over a month. He told me I wouldn't have to do that because the kids were home. I laughed.

We made a quick stop at Safeway because they have the low-calorie bread I like so that tired me out even further. By the end of the two-mile drive home from that store, I wanted a nap. I even forgot my bread and candy bar in the car because I was so groggy as I got out (also had a soda, phone and new inhaler to keep track of).

Of course, my husband was completely wrong about me not having to put the stuff away, and that's when my problems started. He just laid down because his back and feet were hurting after working all day then shopping while my youngest son (almost 10) tried to help me put stuff away. The oldest daughter (20 was upstairs painting and didn't even come out to help bring the groceries in) and the middle daughter (17) was cleaning (she did help bring stuff in but then went back to cleaning).

There was so much to put away and both the freezer and fridge were so disorganized. The cheese drawer has a huge crack in it, and now that it was empty, I could see it went clear across the drawer so I had to tape it up before it broke. Then I had to empty old food and combine leftovers and find space for everything. Meanwhile frozen stuff is just sitting there thawing. And the more time that goes on, the more confused I get because of fatigue. I couldn't remember what I was doing.

It's so frustrating and no one was really helping. The 10yo tried a little, but he kept trying to do things he needed help with because he's too short or small to handle most of the stuff we bought. I finally just flipped out and said I couldn't do it anymore. My brain was fried. I didn't know where anything went. I would start to put one thing away and get distracted by something else but not know where to put it. Or couldn't put one thing away until I put something else but would get all confused on what to do first. I was so frustrated and worn out. I started crying until my husband came over (in a huff) and grabbed all the frozen stuff that goes int he deep freeze in the garage.

It was awful.

And that's how shopping is for me. It's physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. And tomorrow we have to go to Walmart to finish getting the stuff we don't buy in bulk (mostly cereal and produce, some spices, plus a birthday gift for the soon-to-be 10-year-old because his birthday is in 5 days). I'm not looking forward to it even though our Walmart usually isn't that busy and the governor said stores had to start enforcing the mask mandate or get fined so almost everyone was correctly wearing a mask today (thankfully).

It's going to be another long day of shopping, carrying stuff in, putting it away, and nearly collapsing from exhaustion. And I probably will forget stuff even if I write it down because I always do.

I can't even really remember those days I would drive myself to the coffee house for a couple hours of writing then hit Goodwill to see if there were any clothes for the kids then drive over to Target just to browse then over to Michael's to check out the yarn then down the road to Walmart, filling the cart, then on to Costco to get the bulk of the groceries and maybe even stopping at Grocery Outlet for chips and dip (they have the best, cheapest chips there) and Safeway for a case of beer (they have the best variety and price for local beer). All on my own in one day. The last time I did that was years ago. At least not without crashing on the way home because I was practically falling asleep at the wheel from fatigue.

I don't know if I'll ever get back to those days. There was one day this past week when I think I had enough mental clarity and alertness to drive all the way to Walmart. The problem is I get worn down walking around and can't guarantee I can drive safely home. I stopped driving distances last December and never leave town on my own. It's too dangerous.

It makes everything harder because we all have to rely on my husband driving us places. None of my kids have licenses (oldest has a permit and hates that I won't take her driving, but if I'm not alert enough to drive myself, I'm not alert enough to teach her to drive).

Some day maybe I'll get back to being independent. Right?

Written by justanotherjen

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