Julie Helen: Back in my local shop again, it's been a long time

Julie Helen had not darkened the doorstep of a supermarket since last October, 2019... here's how she got on, when she finally did
Julie Helen: Back in my local shop again, it's been a long time

"I haven’t darkened the door of a supermarket since October, 2019," says Julie Helen. Picture: Stock

I FINALLY did it! I took the plunge. I bit the bullet and went into to an ordinary, run-of-the-mill, shop! This may seem inconsequential to many readers but it is important to realise that I haven’t darkened the door of a supermarket since October, 2019. At that point I was heavily pregnant and protecting myself by not being on my feet very often.

I walked into hospital with my two trusty walking sticks in December at 38 weeks pregnant. All the professionals, my husband and I, all assumed I would be using my wheelchair on a full time basis by then. It’s a great source of pride to me that I managed to stay on my feet for so long and indeed that I’m back on my feet since giving birth.

My protection of my mobility didn’t come without sacrifice. Once I hit six months pregnant, I limited the places I went on my feet. It was very simple, falling, as I would ordinarily do a number of times a year with little or no consequence, was just not an option when I was carrying such precious cargo within my body.

I can put my hand on my heart and say I fell only once throughout the entire nine months, early on, onto my knees on carpet at home. I took being pregnant as a job as much as I could. My job was to mind myself enough to keep the baby safe. Everything else had to take a back seat.

I remember that last day in October when I went into my favourite small shop, O’Reilly’s on the Straight Road. They are always so kind to me there and they have all manner of fast, tasty bites to grab on the go. I used to stop in after a physiotherapy session in CUMH for a treat and a bit of recovery time. I remember I got lunch that day and added a bag of crisps, my guilty pregnancy craving while I filled my car with diesel. I remember queuing in a short queue to pay and feeling my legs turn to jelly. I knew then my standing days as a pregnant lady were over. I sat in the car park for ages until I had the energy to drive home again.

Fast forward to March 2020, I was just thinking about being able to queue in a shop again when lockdown began. I am very lucky to have family members to bring me everything I need. Sometimes, however, I just want to be able to choose my own guilty pleasures again every now and then. One night last week I was on my way to the gym when I realised my car was dangerously low on fuel. It was very likely I wouldn’t make it home again on the fumes left in the tank. I had to give in and stop at a filling station.

My brain started turning. I had my mask. I could fill the car with less than 30 euro so I could just give one tap of my card and be gone. I knew I could wear disposable gloves at the pump itself, but I can’t put those plastic gloves on, my fingers aren’t dexterous enough. Instead I doused my hands in sanitizer before getting out of the car and again after handling the pump. Then I made a beeline for the shop like a woman out of one of those Mission Impossible films. My heart was racing and adrenaline was running through my veins. I made it, I did it, I was nervous, it wasn’t pleasant but I’ll get used to the new normal!

Julie writes a weekly column for Women on Wednesday (WoW!)

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