What Grocery Shopping Is Like for Me as Someone With a Chronic Illness


Everybody has a line they draw when it comes to giving in and admitting that it’s time to buy groceries.

For some people that line is toilet paper. For others the line is dog food. In our house the line is coffee creamer. Yesterday morning I made coffee and opened the fridge to find that we were down to the fat-free and sugar-free crap only. Not to worry, I knew we had half-and-half from a recipe I made last week. Just that isn’t enough though. Luckily I had hot fudge leftover, too. Turns out if you’re really in a bind you can mix hot fudge and half-and-half as a creamer. Unfortunately that cup of coffee is a bit tainted because with each sip you get closer and closer to the realization that grocery shopping must happen sooner than later.

Grocery shopping is a difficult task for me and while my husband offers to do it for me (and I take him up on it quite often) I sometimes just like to go to the store myself. This morning while I was showering I thought to myself, “Man, they should have a Fitbit for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) with appropriate workouts.” They don’t currently have the workouts I do available in their system.

Grocery shopping, while standing, is a marathon. Grocery shopping while riding a motorized cart is shockingly enough, still quite the workout. I know that sounds strange, but I was dangerously close to passing out yesterday. My lovely aunt and mom took me shopping and pushed a normal-sized cart for my items (because I almost always need more than the tiny decoration basket the front of the motorized cart holds). Anyway, I made it through the produce section just fine, but as we came into the bakery and butcher section my face started to tingle and go numb down both sides. My heart started racing. As we left the butcher section I sent my aunt to quickly fetch a Gatorade of any size or flavor for me to start chugging. That helped a tiny bit but I was still spinning and going fuzzy.

As I was sending my aunt back for items I’d already forgot and passed (I’ll pretend this is due to being sick, but I think it’s more due to being Amy), I had Mom open up a box of granola bars labeled something about chocolate and peanut butter so I could inhale one immediately. About three aisles later I was past the worst of it and could tell I had successfully avoided a faint. That left me sweaty and cold with shaky hands while I picked out the Greek yogurt I wanted.

Meanwhile all around me people are just grocery shopping like it’s no big deal.  Showoffs. I don’t blame Fitbit, because there was a time when I thought the only way grocery shopping could possibly be considered a workout would be in this beautiful form:

supermarket sweep gif

Who remembers “Supermarket Sweep?” This makes sense to count as a workout, but of course it was a different time of poofier hair and matching sweatshirts, not to mention the dance moves.

supermarket sweep 2

Is anyone else reminded of those years you studied prices in the grocery store and had a lucky scrunchie on standby should you ever be called to be on this glorious show? As I was writing this, I messaged my sister-in-law Ashley just to make sure this was a relevant comparison and that people had heard of it.

Her prompt response was, “I loved that show. Always go for the hams!”

If grocery shopping is a workout for you, know that you are not alone!

Follow this journey on POTS: Finding Smiles in the Trials.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome

doctor writing with computer and stethescope in the foreground

A Message to the Resident Who Didn't Think I Understood My Condition

Recently I had to call up the hospital and speak to my doctor about a change in my condition. (One of my conditions — I have many. This one was postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which causes my heart to race on standing, but recently it’s been racing all the time, even when I’m lying down. [...]
girl hiking in cinque terre with view of ocean

When Becoming Chronically Ill Feels Like Culture Shock

The summer before my last year of college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Italy. As anyone’s first experience traveling outside of the country for the first time would be, it was life-changing. I gained lifelong friends and traveled to places I never dreamed could exist. I saw cathedrals that were so awe-inspiring, [...]
black and white drawing of protestors

Why Raising Awareness Is So Important to People With Chronic Illnesses

Awareness: Why is it so important to the chronically ill community and any other diseases?  Well, remember back a couple years ago when the Ice Bucket Challenge blew up your Facebook newsfeed and you got pretty sick of it real fast? I remember asking myself, “Why did they start this? What does it have to [...]
Mother and daughter on a beach with arms around each other

When My Kids Wonder Why Mommy Can't Dance Anymore

Spanish-style music was playing in the background. It was unusually hot for October, but I could feel a slight breeze on my cheek. The nerves in my limbs were twitching like they wanted to get up and run, yet felt like they were being held down by cement. My eyes were closed, but I could [...]