Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Caregiving: MS Awareness Week (alternative 2)

Stopping by Giant Food last night with Patti it occurred to me that grocery shopping is a common denominator task anyone can relate to and might serve to help understand living with Multiple Sclerosis for our ‘alternative’ MS Awareness Week. 


In the earliest years of MS, while still walking, Patti’s shopping would be disrupted by sudden fatigue or problems of balance while trying to stand or reach for an item on a shelf. Facing long check out lines could lead to an abandoned cart because fatigue was overpowering.


With the advent of the scooter era, Patti would actually ride her Rascal Scooter to the local grocery store. Her visits were not only restricted by the capacity of her scooter basket but by logistics of a store built and designed for people walking upright.


Before today’s ‘super stores’, aisles were so congested with displays that they were nearly impossible to maneuver through with an electric scooter. Patti would find herself navigating through a tightening maze … and more than once rammed a display. Intentional? I can only speculate. <grin>  


At your next visit to a grocery story just look at how few items are really within reach of someone in a sitting position. When you notice an unattended shopper in a wheelchair or scooter looking up at a shelf, have you ever asked “Can I reach something for you?”


With visual impairment progressing to legally blind the era of independence ended. Additionally transferring Patti to and from her wheelchair to our car became increasingly challenging and undependable. Patti’s visits to a grocery store simply ended and disappeared from Patti’s experiences for years.


Hunter gathering became solely a caregiver task.


Patti as a formerly able-bodied able-minded person fought valiantly to adapt and survive as the metamorphosis of MS enveloped her body and mind.


Grocery shopping is only one simple common denominator activity to help translate MS. In reality ‘every thing’ you previously took for granted changes. 


That was ‘then’ … tomorrow I’ll share about ‘today’.


P.S. If ever considering an electric scooter? … Patti’s Rascal Scooter is over 15 years old and runs like a champ. She used to travel on local roads driving sometimes 10 miles a day or more on errands. She’s pulled sleds through snow, and been able to be part of family activities on all terrains. 


  1. (((((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU))))))))))))))))))My Mom needs something like that wheel chair,She can hardly walk now days,but She needs to walk.I can understand what your saying about griocer stoors,how the asiles are so small you cant get through.When my Mom rides in one of the wheel chair carts at the stoor,I am with Her,always to get something,She cant reach.Thats amazing that Patti can help with Her chair.Have a wodnerful day.

  2. ...........recently while shopping with Jack in his power chair, I sent him to get some limes because I just didn't think I could walk that far and finish what I needed to get.  Jack is good at 'finding' things that the store continues to move and hide.  I realized when he arrived in the fruit section that he couldn't reach the limes and the bag for them.  I asked a store employee to assist him.  And they had a nice chatt while the young man helped.   We have to use those employees when the need arises.  The second time in the same store I was ready to check out and realized I had sent Jack on another hunt, the checker went to find him and help.... she giggled that he was already sitting down again.  He claims that he can climb up the sturdy  YOU ARE RIGHT,  the stores are behind times with shelving or maybe we just will always have to find someone to help.

  3.  My sister got a scooter like that and she says it like being set free.  She is able to see the neighborhood she had only been able to watch from her window.  Her daughers rides behind her like a dog sled.


  4. i will remember this when sis can't get around anymore


  5. I agree with this....I agree with everything you write though. :o) To go grocery shopping is a big task because of not being able to reach things. The other customers also make you feel like you are in their way....they will make their little noises of exhaling, and not even asking if they can help as they watch you try your hardest to reach for something. It hurts in so many different ways when they do that to you! Grocery stores have gotten wider. Now, they need to work on department stores. I'd love to just go and shop/look around in a store like maybe Kohl's. But, I can't. I am not able to get through any of the isles. Christmas shopping is hard. The stores say they are handicap assesable, but they are not! Yes, so many people do take life for granted.

  6. Yes, I have asked a shopper in a wheelchair if they needed help... there are others as well, who are not in wheelchairs, but cannot see as well, and I've seen them attempting to figure out what they are buying... I'll offer to read it for them. I think I must look very friendly and trusting because strangers will often ask me where something is! I think most of us able-bodied people want to help those less able because we know that our day is coming... sooner than we expect. I was reminded of this not long ago when the bagger boy saw me pushing the car to my car and he offered to help me get my groceries in the car. I thanked him, but said no, I was able to take care of it myself. I wondered if I looked that old already... probably did to him because he was just 16 himself. What does 16 know about 53 year olds?... we must all look alike at our age!  I'm sure I'm guilty of taking lots for granted, like the ability to easily climb up and down stairs, get in and out of my car without assistance, go to the bathroom by myself, drive a car... or something I largely take for granted: like seeing, hearing, and speaking coherently. Being able to get out of bed in the morning, to dress myself, to brush my teeth... I don't even think about these things... but if I lost the ability to zip up my the back of my own dress without assistance, even that little change would be significant in my present lifestyle. I see what you mean. I'll be back for tomorrow's entry. Bea


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