“Shopping is a woman thing. It’s a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.” ~Erma Bombeck
Female shopaholics squeeze into tight parking spaces, racing in a purposeful speed-walk to grab advertised bargains with a Christmas adrenaline frenzy into — the mall. Christmas shopping at the mall — the big girl Walt Disney Park — admission only requires a valid credit card. Doors swoosh open to an angelic choir singing “aaahhh!”
With Stiff Person Syndrome, the mall offers as many kicks and giggles as a pitch-black maze, feel-your-way-out, Halloween haunted house. As usual, I “think” I have a mental grip of this deliberate assault on my SPS symptoms. The City of Bedlam (parking lot), has no room to get in. My handicap placard has become a worthless plastic trophy of disabled proclamation. Circling the lot with other determined “grab the first available spot” cars, we resemble airline jets waiting for the control center to give permission to land — not a good start. Omen?
Parked in Penney’s Netherlands, I grab my two confidence-boosting gait aids, my hiking pole and wheeled backpack. The kindness of a stranger navigates me across the road of Daytona racers as I enter — the mall.
The mall — a personal Stiff Person perception of red-alert-danger, my deranged neuro-inhibitory system begins its excited jangle. The entire store is a writhing mass of movement — a bucket of poisonous snakes. Bright lights bounce off the high gloss floors while my senses are acutely aware of the noise… all the chatter, closing cash registers, boisterous children.
The squatting GAD-antibodies know it’s party time. I sense their arousal as they overpower my medicated nervous system. Perception overload is giving shots of cheap tequila to the GAD jumping beans with handfuls of uppers. I am hosting my own crash bar party at — the mall. It may be Christmas but my nervous system is having a raucous Cinco de Mayo. The antibodies are cranking up music for a Mexican Hat Dance. My torso starts to tighten as I try to steady the emotional angst. Just get the gift card, breathe, and leave. My body will not allow me to free-stand in the long register lines today.
Trying to blend in, a lady with a stiffening gait, wheeled backpack, and hiking pole can look a little suspicious at Christmas… shoplifter? Another round of tequila for the antibodies. It is “only” a small walkway but my body will not budge. I navigate around clothing displays to find a more comfortable crossover.
Passing a catatonic gentleman sitting in a folding chair by makeup, I still have enough control of me to tease. “Having fun?” Life resurfaced in his responding smile.
An opening. A wall of people are coming. Steady. Wait. Pass behind them and take a deep breath. Polka-dot bras and seasonal panties greet me as I manage to get to shoes (ugly styles), moving to get my store gift card at the salon. Acutely aware of my surroundings and attempting to control the inner growing assault of the getting high antibodies, my lower back is hurting with the back-bending contractions of “SPS Gone Wild – Christmas Break.”
Movement is getting harder, the extra meds are barely keeping me at the level I am, and my mind is getting tired of assessing the external while dealing with the internal. Breathe. I make it back to cosmetics and the dutiful husband is still sitting in the folding chair. “Still here?” He smiles but his comeback is a bored grumble.
The exit! Stepping outside, I am on the wrong side of the store. A long stretch of sidewalk taunts as the jumping beans are now bouncing with superball anticipation. I hear whispers of having a pinata — my head on the sidewalk. With the slow, deliberate steps of SPS, I concentrate on the border boundary as I lumber up the walk. Squelching panic, it is another wrong exit. I will have to go back into the store to exit number three.
Omitting repeated Stiff Person drama, my body is aching with stiffness and mini-spasm and my mental fortitude is stretched to the limit. Home, lay down, recover. This time, my kind stranger holds onto me as he guides me across the Daytona Speedway. I just say that I have balance issues.
Away from mall overload puts a halt on the Cinco de Mayo in my nervous system. At home, under my blankie, my body begins a slow relaxation recovery in sync with me calming my stimulus-raped senses… CSI-SPS.
Mall is a four-letter word.
Copyright © 2012
It is my heartfelt prayer that God’s love fills your heart with peace, joy, and hope. May 2013 be a year of health and happiness. Merry Christmas, with love.