Chris DeWald: Post-stroke food shopping

Column by Chris DeWald
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If you are capable of going out, whether it be alone or with a caregiver, get outdoors. Depending on your mental and physical situation, this shall dictate what type of food store is easier for you. By this, I mean you do not “overload,”  get “hemmed” in feelings. Being out should be enjoyable, so how do we attain this? First, I am going to use myself as that example. I loved my brain stem stroke so much, I decided to have two at the same time. I guess to keep each other company was my plan.

What’s first? Transportation is first. I could not see very well after my stroke. I could not determine distances whatsoever. So that should scare you fellow strokers. Now, I first went to a large “Has Everything” store. I lasted three minutes. People were so close to you which caused many reactions that I could not handle being there. Noise and lighting were a great factor and the product setups left me in a daze. The “carts” that provide assistance to many handicapped people were rotting away. Some had holes through the floorboards, had pieces of tire missing so they would bounce and shake like a pogo stick.

There are other food stores around here. Some have drivable carts, but are few in number. There are a few of these chain stores in the city and the carts are pretty. But once in the store, merchandise is so close to one another you can run into the displays. This adds stress to the stroke shopper. The end caps of the stores have additional merchandise resulting in you having issues with maneuvering about. The added stress of shopping is then encumbering. There is another food store in town that has good carts and seem to be charged all the time. They are comfortable. The problem with this place is too many displays everywhere and you can easily run into them. The parking situation can be atrocious as it seems to be a “free for all” outside with drivers. So here we go again with stress.

For those that do not have a stroke or have family members who have had this “brain insult,” we are afflicted with sight issues, easily startled and do have “acquired” moments of hostility with the human language. What a nice way to put it. When we get back home, we usually fall asleep quickly due to all the activity our brain has endured.

I have gone to every food store in Staunton and I shall reveal the best, in my opinion, where that is and why. First, I shall give the why? I wanted to solve the first stress part. Huge handicap parking spaces where “Police Only” parking takes a handicap space does not exist. Look, if it is an emergency, they can pull up to the yellow zone and put their lights on. Meanwhile, what does it hurt if they park a little away. Walking police presence is good police techniques and it will do their bodies good.

So, I parked my car. If I use the far right doors of this market. I am looking at a beautiful Floral area that is soothing and pleasing to the eyes. To my left there are a fleet of power carts. Hippity hop on a store cart I go. I then zoom off to a nearby coffee shop where I can get a senior cup of coffee. Not a senior yet, but it is available. They then offer you a cup holder that attaches to the cart. My shopping mode is on. I am made to feel relaxed in this atmosphere. The aisles are wide and I can drive without obstructions and displays hindering me. The self weighing machines for fruits and vegetables are at a handicap level. The customers are not in a rush cutting you off or bumping into you also.

What’s next? Nutrition and “costs.” The products are labeled on price per ounce on many product shelves. This gives me the opportunity to compare from just sitting in my cart. Nutrition you say. Please grab the product and read. Learn about your medications and see if the foods you once loved are no longer a “feast.” For example, Vitamin K is a no-no on warfarin/coumadin. Products like cole slaw and cabbage might be not such a great idea.

Customer service is next. Now I can drive each aisle with ease and that includes a cart coming from the opposite direction. If I can not reach an item, their staff and employees are so helpful. They shall get that item and wait for you to determine if its right. They also do not get mad if you spill your coffee. Gee, imagine that.

They have an employee that monitors each aisle by what seems to be a scheduled requirement. They are so helpful in answering questions. Fresh fish is available at separate fish counter, deli meats, fresh cut meats made to order. They also give recipes on the label. The place is always spotless. I feel great and trust in their products.

They have a bakery area that I frequent to say hello. Yes, just to say hello. I have to tend my girlish figure. The pharmacy with their superb staff knows you by name. They shall come out and help you chose off shelf medications. If you have a “load” of meds to take, this is one of the best options. First, your pharmacist knows or can look up in the computer what you take. He/she will then tell you what medications are not compatible to take. They do it and just for that, I am grateful.

Checkout is easy. The carts fit in the cashier lanes and they have self checkout. Now, I do not use the self checkout often as I can not reach the paying devices, but who cares about that. Not me, I am not going to work anymore.

You can also express your ideas and complaints to the service desk or managers with ease. I have also observed “Rehab” counselors training and retraining people in the store.

What a great place. What store do I prefer? Martins on Richmond Avenue is where I go. Now, this is my opinion that fits my needs. Shopping for anything should be as much a pleasant experience as can me made possible. You shop where you feel the most at ease.

Try all the area stores and see what you think, unless you shop where I go.

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