“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yeah, That Was Humiliating

Since my health has deteriorated, my husband has been trying to convince me that I need to start using those motorized shopping carts you see at the store. I agree with him, of course -- my shopping trips are killing me, but using those carts would be like admitting that I'm ... disabled. It would be acknowledging that I'm not doing well and that perhaps I'm not getting better as quickly as I thought I would. Maybe I wouldn't exactly be giving up, but I would be giving in. But surely it would be helpful if I didn't have to walk up and down the aisles, right? Right?

Um, wrong. Yesterday, I finally decided to give it a try. I took my 16 year old son with me to help. He had used the carts before due to an injured foot, so I asked him to show me how they work. I nearly crashed into several people right from the start. I kind of got the hang of it, and we went to the produce department. I sent him scampering in different directions to get the items I needed. I tried to wheel myself to items that were at eye level. It was clumsy and awkward.

And yes, people stare! They stare a lot. Except they do it in a way that they think makes them look like they're not staring. They avert their gaze if you glance up at them. They become very interested in onions.

I was flustered. I passed by items I needed, and then had to back up with that annoying garbage truck beep announcing to everyone that I didn't know what I was doing. I felt like I shouldn't stand up to reach for items on a top shelf, because then people would know aha! I was a fraud! I was a perfectly healthy individual who had no right to be zipping around in one of those things.

I ended up missing a few things that were on my list because I just wanted to get out of there. The entire visit took quite a bit longer than my usual visits, because those things just don't go that fast! I've concluded that the stress from the experience was just as damaging as the exertion from walking the aisles.

Lesson learned.


Unknown said...

Oh No Shelli! I feel for you! Maybe it'll get less stressful as you get the hang of it more ... or maybe you just go back to walking. Hard call. Sorry you had to go through that; I hate those stares! Those ones where they hold nothing back & you know they're judging you b/c you don't look like you're sick. Rest in the knowledge that you are NOT a fraud! This is a difficult disease that takes longer than we'd like to overcome. They have no idea what they are thinking.

Toni said...

Wow, Shelli. That story sure nails the experience of going out into the world for us. It can stand as a metaphor for "Living the CFS Life"! The only thing I can say is that I hope you recognize that you undertook the cart venture as an act of compassion for yourself...and that in itself is a good thing. Thanks for sharing your tale.

Dusty Bogwrangler said...

I've experienced this to a lesser degree when I use my walking pole. People either ignore you or fall over themselves to help. At least you now have the gift of knowing what it is like in 'the chair'. I know it's changed my own attitude.

How brave of you to try it. And don't let one bad experience put you off. Also, can you shop online? I usually do my groceries this way and have them delivered. Save the energy for something else?

Thanks for dropping by my blog earlier, you are much appreciated.

Renee said...

Hi Shelli
I know what you are saying. I remember when I would use the cart at Target...people would stare because "you don't look sick"...I confess at times I would limp up to the cart and get in...and limp I would not be judged..sigh.....It did save energy but it also stressed me out big time.(I have not been able to go to a store now for 4 yrs but your story sure brings back vivid memories!) I feel for you. At least you had the courage to do it! Yahoo! It does get easier...
It takes me back to when I had to be pushed around in a wheel chair. People would be soooooo extra nice. Once a bus backed up when I came into a narrow parking lot in my wheel chair...literally backed up. When we got to our car Joel asked me, Are you getting out and into the car?" I said, "NO WAY! I am not getting out of this wheel chair until the bus is long gone from here!"
Like Jo said, it made me more accepting and respectful of others.
Sorry you had to go through this Shelli....sending gentle hugs your way.

Lori P said...

Wow, Shelli, what a good point for the person watching you! When I see someone in a wheelchair in the grocery store, I'm sure I look, without intentionally thinking anything negative. And I'm sure the person in the wheelchair is stressed and self-conscious!

You DO have every right to use it and if you stand, then you stand to reach up for something and the heck with everyone else. :) I think you were very brave and I agree with PJ in that maybe it would get easier, both mentally and physically, the next time you try it.

When Jessie was at her lowest, I tried to get her to use one to get out and she refused.

Hmm... VERY interesting post.

Sue Jackson said...

Wow, very interesting post, Shelli. I haven't tried the motorized cart yet, but grocery shopping is really wiping me out lately. I've been sending my husband instead, but that has its own problems! He gets the wrong stuff and misses items...then I get frustrated because I couldn't do it myself, and he gets frustrated because I'm being's rough on both of us!

I mentioned the challenge of grocery shopping on my blog last week,and lots of people encouraged me to do my shopping online. I tried it a few times, when our local store first started delivery service and waived the fee. I feel guilty paying an extra $10 for delivery, but I'm starting to think it would be worth it!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh! If I didn't know better, I wrote this post. You have more courage than I do. I have always been afraid I would run people down or that people would....stare.

I just can't go there. High five to you for doing it , though!

Great post!

Kerry said...

Kudos to you for your courage in trying. Using "enabling tools" has been one the hardest and best things I've had to do. I've had CFS for twenty years and awhile back I used the cart like you did...oh my gosh that beeping sound when you reverse the thing it like "hey case you haven't noticed i'm sitting in a motorized cart!"

What I do now, is I use my walker (the kind with wheels,a seat and a nifty basket). What a step that was to accept my walker. Now I don't know what I'd do without out it. I see it as a tool to greater independene and quality of life. Its also incredibly freeing to my family. When out with me they feel less worried because they know I can sit on the walker seat when I need to rest...instead of on the grocery store bottom shelf or the floor. I can hold on to my walker for balance instead of their arms. I also sit in line on my walker seat and rest. Best of beeping!

I also have experience much more compassion from makes my physical challenges visible.

I understand though...its a hard step to take and the grocery cars are a pain in the A**. I call them "putt-putt" cars because they move so darn slow.

Unknown said...

Ah, the staring! I get that when I use my walking stick. I can't believe that it's mostly old people that stare at me! Perhaps they're just jealous of my stick...

It must be very frustrating having to use a scooter, but maybe it will help you in the long run? I really hope so.

Pris said...

well, I have no choice. I can't make the walk, so I use a cart when I go down to office world. The grocery store makes me too dizzy so it's out, anyway. I just smile a lot at people when I'm on the darn thing like I'm queen bee riding on a float in a parade. Heck with them is my feeling now if they judge me. I don't care. I do what I need to do. Be good to yourself. Ride it and save your energy for something that's more fun. Oh...and you can always accidentally back into a smirker:-) (just kidding)