How Life with Multiple Sclerosis turned me into a Savvy Shopper.
I’ve always been “a shopper” I love it, have always enjoyed rummaging through stores to find the best bargain. As I child I was always amazed at my own mothers’ skills at turning a very small budget into a pretty great lifestyle for just the two of us, utilising her smart savvy shopping skills to ensure I was always dressed incredibly well and our homes were always decorated and styled to perfection.
As I grew older and left home I’d continue to emulate this, having purchased every copy of Vogue magazine since the age of 14 until the present day, and graduating as an adult to the delights of Tatler from 18 to present day, I loved the aspiration of it, the joy of it and even more so, the art of emulating what I see, within reason on a shoe string budget by comparison. I read about fabulous restaurants, great hotels, brands, and get there when I can, whenever that may be in my progression of health and wealth, in the meantime, it’s all very entertaining.
After my diagnosis of MS in my mid thirties, I began to better understand in recent years why I’d become less tolerant of shopping trips with friends, feeling totally worn out from these experiences beyond what is normal and food shopping, I’d taken to either doing very late at night with no people in the stores, no one to queue behind or simply online. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance amongst other symptoms. At first I worried I was becoming a bit reclusive, finding excuses to avoid these group activities. I put it down to my busy lifestyle, running a business, children, family, but increasingly, it became apparent that the fatigue I suffered with my MS was greatly impacting my willingness to shop in person. I wasn’t so much Greta Garbo (“I want to be alone”) but a person with a life long illness I was struggling to balance and cope with.
However, what I did learn to love and embrace on my MS journey so far was the world of online. Everything, from how I shop, to how I work, and eventually what I do for a living now, how I arrange everything has been altered to life online, which frees up the quality time and energy bursts I do have for pleasurable pursuits . I am able to surf the sales of the world online, find the best bargains, news, information, find amazing brands and I find greater range online often than when I go into the very stores of the retail chains I may be shopping at, besides, it’s easier to get the size you actually want online than in store often these days.
I still count shopping as one of my pleasurable past times, but by taking out the strain of having to shop, when I go into stores now, it’s simply because I want to play with the clothes and objects, touch them, feel them, occasionally try them on to find out how different stores sizing works for me…then I generally (not always) go home, and order them online, no fuss, no lugging heavy bags from store to store, no sweating. Though of course sometimes you just need that rush of getting it there and then, swinging a little bag as you stroll on, probably to lunch or for a coffee or somewhere to sit down.
As one of my most significant relapses to date was partial loss of my right arm for several weeks, and continued muscle weakness since, carrying hoards of shopping just isn’t a sensible option for me. Occasionally I attempt it, but when I do, I always regret it when I get to the car shaking, and having to take a rest before continuing home, or making it home, and sitting shaking in the car, so pleased I actually made it! Sounds extreme, but believe me, those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis will know what this feels like. To think you will not even find the strength to drive a vehicle home from the shops is a pretty daunting feeling. Most recently I’ve had some symptoms have affecting mobility, I thank God for Wi-fi on those days.
MS has taught me, if not forced me, to take a step back and enjoy life more, and that includes the way in which I shop. I incorporate more sitting, resting, taking time out and people watching at a café or restaurant into my external shopping trips now, people watching is not just a pursuit for holidays in Europe but weekly life. Also, shopping online, blogging , promoting products whilst travelling is fantastic.
It’s actually great not charging ahead with mammoth missions of to do lists all the time any more, I see friends do it and can’t help but shake my head and think “why do this to yourself when we don’t have to live like that any more?”
There have been some lessons learned along the way. The fact that I am sometimes incredibly tired, for days at a time, is not without challenges, and has taught me many lessons, even shopping online, if you shut the computer before you checkout properly, assuming it’s gone through…no food arrives the next day. Hmm, after many takeaways, I’ve learned to stop making that little mistake.
If you’re blogging or running a shopping website online, and run through a relapse and have an absence for a while, you might find you’ve lost your website when you return if it was about to be due for renewal, hmm, has happened to me. There’s nothing like going to renew the web domain you’ve built up originally costing you less than £2.00 and someone telling you the starting bid is around £600. Feels like blackmail, but apparently is simple business, so back to the drawing board you go, another lesson learned in managing this life online!
Considering cognitive skills are an area of concern for many people with MS, myself included, it’s interesting how all this shopping savvy has sharpened my memory in some areas, maybe it’s a form of brain training. When you spend as much time as I do looking at prices and deals online, then happen to go into certain retailers and supermarkets to shop and realise they have actually not bothered to mark up their deals or offer them in store at all, without the online deals being promoted as being exclusives. My family roll their eyes as I point out the inconsistencies time and time again, Christmas shopping in the Supermarkets being one of the worst periods for this. The game of the mark up, mark down, convince you you’ve been given a deal infuriates me!
I would like to think I’ve pretty much got it down to fine art now, time will tell. If I keep finding the bargains, the great deals, or the most wanted finds and interacting with my followers, hopefully, it will only grow. Hopefully MS has not won, has not beat me, rather transformed me, and in doing so, I aim to transform or simply add to the ease with which other people do the very same thing, shop, shop and SHOP some more. I enjoy working with companies and getting great feedback from the public, it’s all about shopping and lifestyle purchases. It’s all about making connections. Who’d have thought an illness where my own Neuro connections are somewhat ****** has led me down the path of making connections on a daily basis. There’s nothing like being inside of a CT scanner to make you question the bigger picture, the corporate rat-race and strain of running a busy company, the juggling on-call phones at home, family life, the people you surround yourself with, just in that single moment, prioritising your life in to what’s really important. MS gave me that moment, I prioritised, I stopped to smell the roses and I became a savvy shopper.