Last Saturday I went on a field trip with M (37). A friend, J, recently moved to the D.C. area and needed some groceries from the Asian market. Being from the suburbs, we naturally only frequent suburban stores – this turned out to be okay since Chinatown wasn’t yielding the necessary goods. Mommy suggested a big store in Rockville. I’ve only been there once and I thought that was enough – because it’s crowded and there’s the potential for jostling, and I witnessed questionable consumer behavior in the baked goods case. Mmm hmm. (Tip: In case you don’t already do this, when getting anything from a self-serve case, reach for the items at the back.) Mommy used to threaten that she’d take me there for “Supermarket” Therapy one day. M made good on that threat and decided to make this a dual-purpose trip. She’d give J a ride to the Chinese Store (referred to generically as the “Chinese Store.” JLSS and Dr. SJ told me on Sunday that they do this, too – they don’t refer to the store by name, they just say, the “Indian Store.”), and I’d meet her there for what she referred to as “Community Reintegration.” I wore a gait belt and she held Leo (see?)
And we marched around all the most crowded aisles I was trying to avoid, but she thought were good challenges. J got some groceries, so did Mommy, and so did we, for that matter. Notably, Mommy said a fight almost broke out in the bakery section (thankfully M and I were in the tea aisle at the time), and this was not the first time she had witnessed an altercation there.
A few weeks ago Mom came home one day, frustrated by how busy her shopping trip had been. People were shopping by the busload, she told me. At first I thought she was kidding, but she explained that she meant it literally. Apparently there are some Chinese senior centers around or something, and they occasionally fill a few buses and make a shopping trip in the morning. When I heard this my eyes got big and I mentally vowed never to go to this store again. But M had other ideas – plus she suggested we go on a Saturday morning (prime shopping time)! Horrors. I got over it, though, and I made it through an expedition I thought I’d never participate in.
I had to smile even though Leo got confiscated in the parking lot because when I left The Place, A (6) charged me to keep on going to the supermarket and push a cart as exercise.
I assumed he liked this exercise since it offered me support but also let me stand upright and have a more natural gait than when I used an actual assistive device. I used to go to a big discount supermarket near my apartment in Oregon and would get so frustrated because they only had carts, no baskets, and I would inevitably get stuck behind someone who made an excruciatingly long decision over the right can of beans to purchase. I eventually started carrying my own basket, but one night a friend at my Niteline Bible Study told me, See, there will come a time when that shopping cart becomes like a walker, and you’ll say, “Great idea, honey, lemme get one, too!”
I have thought about how B told me that 2+ years ago and I laughed and laughed. Because it is true – it became true for me (except for the “honey” part) a lot sooner than expected, but what was conventional wisdom turned out to be a legitimate gait training exercise.
On Saturday, though, J and Mommy needed carts for their groceries, but I didn’t get one. Since M was there I walked along without a cart. Yes, I got a few interested looks, but it was actually really nice to be free of the cart. It allowed us to walk around a lot of places since I wasn’t attached to anything. So I’ve graduated from pushing that huge shopping cart around the hospital to walking around a real store without anything – that’s progress. But what’s even more significant to me is the change in my thought processes. This is what it used to be like:
But now I’m like, “Okay, whatevs.”
I know who calls the shots here.