My Story: It’s OK To Make My Life Easier

My Story: It’s OK To Make My Life Easier

By Joanna Mechlinski.

For years, I toyed with the idea of getting my groceries delivered. I remember speaking with a friend who’d tried Stop & Shop’s Peapod while heavily pregnant. She was enthused, and I made a mental note to give it a try. After all, living alone as a person with chronic illness, shopping is often an activity that I have to gear up for mentally days ahead – and after.

Joanna Mechlinski

Yet something kept holding me back. Even when I came out of a full day of work and felt lousy, or when winter got particularly bad, I would stubbornly insist on doing my own shopping. Over time, I perfected my technique – no more than four canvas bagfuls, and no more than two with perishables, as I’d be exhausted enough by the time I came home that I could only make one trip into the house. (The rest of the items, various bagged, boxed or canned products, would remain in my trunk until the next day.)

Then, over recent months, Connecticut suffered seemingly never-ending horrific weather. Like many other states, we’ve endured ridiculously low temperatures, which led to snow that never had a chance to melt. Most days, just about every part of my body ached, even when I was able to remain indoors. It was all I could do to remain vaguely human, let alone worry about getting groceries.

So I finally broke down and went online.

The entire process was amazingly easy. I chose the items I wanted from the website, submitted my credit card info and chose a day and time for delivery. There were lots of options, depending on the customer’s availability and preferences. You could even add or change your order up until midnight the day before delivery – a huge perk for those of us who suffer from random moments of brain fog.

The day my order was scheduled for delivery, I mentioned that I was trying out the service to my co-workers. None had ever tried it themselves, so they were interested in how my experience would turn out. I was able to recommend it – I had a two-hour window, but received a text from the truck driver when I was the next delivery, and then another when he was on my street. The driver was friendly and courteous, bringing all my grocery bags into the house with a single trip.

None of the abovementioned individuals appeared to be judging me for opting to pay someone else to shop for me – in fact, no one seemed to be thinking anything in particular, other than my co-workers considering it for themselves and the truck driver simply viewing me as another stop on his route. So why did that feeling of guilt keep persisting? Despite knowing intellectually that I had good reasons to seek help – and that I was exchanging money for a service, not exactly begging for favors – there was a lingering sense of shame, like I was being “lazy.”

Perhaps it was my upbringing as a first-generation American, with an immigrant father who valued hard work above all us – no excuses – but one of the worst things about my illness was not being able to do everything for myself that I once had. I’m a lot better about it than I once was, given that it’s now been 14 years. But this is still an issue that I grapple with often. And from speaking with others who live with chronic illness and reading countless blogs and articles, I know I’m not alone.

Having been through the ups and downs, the optimism and the pessimism, of this way of life for so long, I think what it really boils down to is vulnerability. In 21st century American society, we tend to place an emphasis upon self-sufficiency. When someone cannot rise to the challenge, people often tend to assume the person will not. Because they themselves can do whatever needs doing without a second thought, they don’t stop to consider that this is a luxury for some others. Thus judgment comes in. It isn’t necessarily intentional on the part of the person; many times they may not even realize they’re doing it. It’s simply a natural by-product of life today.

Am I able to fix the assumptions of society? Obviously not. If I’m fortunate, I may be able to chance the views of a handful of people, chiefly those who get to know me and better understand the life of the chronically ill. But realistically, even that is a stretch, simply because people’s beliefs are usually pretty ingrained and not easy to change. What I can do is let go of my internalizing it, of taking it personally – because it very often is not. And the bottom line is, I need to do what I need to do.

Joanna Mechlinski is a former newspaper reporter who now works in education. She is a chronic pain sufferer who lives in Connecticut and is a frequent contributor to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Joanna Mechlinski

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Linda

While reading this article, one question screamed in my mind. It was “Why in the hell does she care what anyone thinks about anything she does, or does not, do?!”. She needs to get over it. I apologize for sounding so judgemental, but I believe that it’s important for people, regardless of any physical or mental challenges, to take whatever actions are necessary to take care of themselves. That includes online grocery shopping. There’s no shame in making our lives a little easier, if we have the resources to pay for those things. Further, it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business if she chooses to order her groceries via online shopping. Truth be known, my guess is that most folk would order their groceries online if they could afford it.
I wish her only the best and hope that she will someday stop worrying about what others might think.

Judy

“Someday” I will join the “delivery wagon” too. But for now, I will continue to do the shopping myself, as it’s one of the only times I get out of the house anymore, and the only exercise I get (taking an extra lap, pushing a cart, around the perimeter of the store). Beside, I’m very picky about picking out fresh produce & meat. And I’m obsessive about “best by dates” . I’m also into doing anything that makes a chore more convenient…..so yes, when the time comes that this will make my life easier, I’ll be joining the delivery wagon!!!

No judgement here. We were on a rare trip to whole foods on Monday and my husband saw that they deliver and he said “that’s something to keep in mind.” I agree. Especially next month when he is laid up after back surgery and I try to nurse him and work. If I lived alone I would use one of those meals you prepare delivery service.

I think when you have chronic illness and you are still trying to work, maintain a home and a life, conveniences are totally acceptable, but as independent (stubborn) people we don’t like to look weak.

I hope you continue to find value in services that help you

All because you are a good person and you believe in hard work. You’re a product of a good home and good parents that taught you to be independent. One day you get hit with Chronic Pain and that will not change who you are, only what you can do physically.

Most Chronic Pain patients refuse to be defined by their illness so we make every attempt to push through our handicap, even if it means risking further injury or more pain.

If you went to PT, they would encourage a life style that makes things easier for you – like having your groceries delivered if you can afford the fee. My local Grocery store has a ” Pull up and Load ” service that allows people to sit in the car while the bags are loaded and they have several parking spots reserved for that service. Seems like more and more shoppers are using the service and i don’t believe its because they are suffering like you are.

Feel no shame, take no self pity – like i said, you’re a good person that would rather shop and carry all those heavy bags all by yourself. In the end, what it means is – you hate having an illness that limits your activities.

Don’t forget, AMAZON delivers everything !

Be well Joanna,

John Sandherr

Steven Macey

First: I am wondering if this applies to a local food store online or like Amazon food delivery?

Second: I do know each state is different with regards to food stamps and WIC. Some states you are allow to buy pre-made foods (like a box of fried chicken). Has anyone tried to see if there food stamps or WIC work for this delivery service? Or if it just pays for food and we would have to pay the delivery charge and tip?

Tim Mason

Great article. I have been having my dog food delivered for about a year now. I enjoy the trip to the grocery store but tip the person for carrying them to my car. It takes several trips with rest in between to get my things inside my little home,

Shelley

Joanna, I am so glad that you took the time to not only write this article but the courage to stand up & do something for yourself. I too live alone with chronic pain & illness, but I am not able to work & live on a disability pension. Trust me if I had the money to do this & it was available in my area I’d grab at the chance. I only go out shopping on days when I have nothing on my schedule as I’m limited by other issues. I don’t drive & dont own a vehicle so I have to take a taxi to go to & from shopping, I have to shop for everything at once.So in one trip I not only buy my groceries & a different store 4 my other personal items but grab containers of distilled water from the water store. Because of my food budget I at times go to 2 different grocery store to get specials & sales! I can’t walk without a walker & load everything on that while i shop & when i get home i have to bring in everything from taxi. I put perishable goods away & just collapse, usually cry & end up in bed for days. This is what I do to survive. I do all stores at once because I can’t afford taxi fare to go to everything seperately!

sandy auriene sullivan

Don’t feel shame! The delivery fee is sometimes too much for us but for others we’ll cut out something just to get the extra help!

But overseas we had delivery 30 years ago; only we chose the items in store and told them when to bring it to the house for an extra couple of dollars. no tipping system! Im probably a bit more comfortable using it than other Americans are.

The ‘big box’ chain app is free but you have to get into and out of the car [at home only! Plus bring in purchase] the one time. But you still have to get to the store’s pick up line and bring it home and unload it. Without help it can get hard. And that method takes only limited payment options too.

I’d love to see the ability used more for F/S; because so many of us who are disabled qualify. Makes sense we’d need the extra help!

Maureen M.

Hi Joanna, Great post, Thank YOU! I live in Fla. JUST over 3 yrs. but.. I too lived in CT for many years and before moving here I would tell my daughter (who lives in Ca.) how hard it is for me to food shop, carry and put away the groceries etc.
It always brought increased pain and would effect me for days afterwards. Especially in the wintertime!
She suggested trying Stop/Shop Pea Pod. I would see the delivery trucks around town and think about it but never acted on it….basically for the same reasons as you.
I would tell myself…’it gets you out of the house and around people’.
I have learned to accept my added sufferings from activity as a part of my life in pain.
Plus, I have a difficult time asking for help.
Fast forward, after yet another harse CT winter I moved down here to be closer to 4 siblings expecting to get needed help from them. Sadly to say, that has never happened.
Now, the very hot humid summers here bring me added pain/fatigue and shopping has continued to be hard on me.
Once again, last summer, my daughter reminded me to use the food store services and help myself in that way. I’ve yet to try it but your story has given me great incentive to ‘JUST DO IT!’
Thank you for the encouragement. :~)

Jui

Your story is an example of life living with chronic pain. The end of your story begins stating society that we now live in.
With millions of persons living in 24/7/365 chronic pain, government agencies are using a ‘ one size fits all’ promotion to FIX the opioid situation.
We are citizens of the USA and because we have diagnosed pain issues , doctors should definitely NOT be pressured by a governmental agency to reduce and/or eliminate medications manufactured (by pharmaceutical companies) explicitly for moderating pain. Many of these are opiate medications.
For millions of people, this right to be prescribed and obtain, specifically opiate medications, has been taken away by OPINIONS of non licensed CEO’S of government agencies.
I am unbelievably aware that this action is a civil rights violation and many other illegalities.
Why has this happened, is what I’m always asking myself.
Action is needed on a mass scale, but I lack the ability to recruit and organize.
Anyone have any ideas. We should be together, like those teenagers protesting the gun situation.
I am a person who has lived with and in chronic pain from a MVA and also Lyme.
It should nor ever have come to this and needs to ens.
This government and $$ are the perpetrators of this situation which is placing chronic pain individuals in the same arena with those who use and obtain opiates for recreational use.
There is a HUGE difference between an ADDICTED USER and a DEPENDENT person who takes opiates. This point has to be put out front and doctors need to not be treating their patients under pressure of the DEA.

Rita KIMBEL

I’ve done it, it’s hard for me to get through our local grocery store. It’s huge, so is Walmart, SCI makes it a real challenge to shop. I would like to pick my own fruit and meats but sometimes it is a lot easier to have someone pick for me. It has its ups and downs. Right now the big thing for me is the weight of some products, cat chow, litters, dogchow, I started buying that online with free delivery, Chewy is great. If I can get the umph to shop I will, but thank you internet for being my new shopping buddy.

Jasmin

Yes, you have to take care of you regardless. I understand though. Because I have felt like I am a weak person but having chronic, I get it now that my body only allows me to do certain things and that is just the way it is. I am actually going to try grocery shopping and delivery online. It’s a great thing!

Rachel

Well posted Joanna, so many universal truths. I think the nub of it is we have to lose our independence and not being able to do these things is a reminder to ourselves of our own vulnerability. That is frightening. It also reminds us of our losses, we are not what we once were or expected to be. There is a huge amount of grieving to be done. I personally gave in quickly, just saying “I am disabled, please may I ….” or “please could you…. [assist me with].” Nobody objects and they always help, if nothing else, they darent say no to your face because it makes them look selfish, and they also know there are laws (in the UK anyway) to protect the disabled. I have even laid down on the floor of shops when they have no chairs. Everyone has been fine with it, even though my disability is invisible. A good statistic to quote if necessary is that 74% of the most severe disabilities are invisible. Don’t push yourself through pain you will get permanently worse. Easier said than done, I know. I remind myself I need all the energy I can save to exercise because that helps my pain and my musculoskeletal health. In pain rehab here they teach locus of control management. Basically that is prioritising, doing only one thing at a time, getting enough rest and making your exercise (at whatever level), eating and sleep the most important things. Think of it that way. It really does help. It takes 32 days to change a habit for good. Good luck.

I just ordered one. I have severe back pain and will need surgery. I am hoping that this will give me a little break with some of the pain. Looking forward to getting it!