What is it like to try to do the daily things you don’t even think about and have a chronic condition? Shopping is one of those tasks that people take for granted and don’t think about how difficult it can be for others that are not in their shoes. There are some people that consider how hard it is with a physical impairment that makes walking or carrying things difficult. But, what if your restrictions are not obvious to the naked eye, and no one can tell how you feel? Some people may have some sympathy after trying to shop while having a cold, flu, or migraine. Although, those things are highly unpleasant, it is different to feel awful and struggle every time you go to the grocery store, pharmacy, or department store.
Imagine fainting or coming very close to it while shopping, and that this is a common occurrence. Consider the action of standing in line making you feel awful and symptomatic. Has the temperature of a store ever been too hot to handle? In the majority of stores (and public buildings) the temperature tends to be excessively warm. To most people this is just a nuisance and may make you remove your coat or roll up your sleeves. But with dysautonomia your body is unable to regulate and adjust to different temperatures, so just being in an overly heated grocery store can make one severely sick.
First, you may get overheated and flush, then have difficulty thinking and concentrating, then start feeling shaky and nauseous, then the headache starts and your vision gets blurry. Then you faint or come very close, and have to sit or lay down. And, yes to some degree this can happen every time you go shopping. There are things that can be done to prevent it, but odds are if it is going to happen it will happen. It is important to not overdo things, eat properly, and hydrate. But, even with the best precautions an overly hot (and crowded) store can mean feeling awful. This is all even before taking into account any reaching or bending down to get things off the shelf. Both of these normal activities also can make people feel awful, dizzy, and nauseous. This also takes a TON of energy to keep oneself from passing out and to accomplish these tasks.
No surprise that shopping is then avoided and that while shopping many things can go not according to plan. For example, it makes it VERY easy to forget things on your list, you may walk right by things without thinking about picking it up, you may grab the wrong thing, or spend more money than you intended to just get the shopping done so that you are able to leave. Many find it either impossible to shop and prefer to shop online or have someone do it for them, or others prefer to have someone shop with them. If you don’t have someone with you could end up feeling poorly and having someone call an ambulance, or you may find yourself unable to drive until you are able to recover. To recover the person has to do thing such as cool down, sit or lie down, rest, drink plenty of water, and eat a snack. And this was all just to go shopping for groceries!
So, with all these things to consider many people find it beneficial to have someone go shopping with them. Although this was written with a person with dysautonomia in mind, especially those with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) or Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS), but this could likely apply in some way to anyone with a chronic condition. People without any of these conditions often don’t think about what it must be like to shop when feeling awful all the time, and most of the time they don’t even think twice about activities such as shopping. Activities like this are just second nature to them and are seen as not being a big deal, although they maybe seen as a nuisance. But, it is good to try to see it from a variety of people’s eyes, so next time you see someone struggling, you may not be so dismissive of them. Just because there is no obvious physical impairment does not mean that a person is not having difficulty performing these seemingly mundane daily tasks.
This is content is largely based on my own experiences and opinions Other resources include: