Posted on November 2, 2011 · Posted in TBI Voices
This entry is part 16 of 20 in the series Steven

Shopping After Severe Brain Injury: Steven Part Sixteen

Shopping after severe brain injury can become a combat zone.  Steven offered some insight into his problems with shopping after severe brain injury:


What else bothers you about grocery shopping after severe brain injury?

Just the people.  Trying to keep up with everything that I need to have.  Trying to remember to not get the cold stuff until the very end of the list.  Trying to like if I can’t find the one thing that I’m looking for making a decision of what I can substitute for it or whether I just can do without it or… I don’t know. I have a little problem with the decision making itself, maybe.

Let’s break it out.  You make a list before you go shopping?

If I don’t make a list I won’t get anything I need.

Describe for me what it was like before you learned you had to have a list with shopping after severe brain injury.

I’d go and just randomly buy stuff, get home and then start putting things away and realize when I go to the bathroom, oh I didn’t get my toilet paper.  Things like that. Or what I was really planning on eating that night I don’t even have it.

What kind of strange stuff did you come home with because of shopping after severe brain injury?

It was a lot of the impulse buys. Like I’d get, crackers, chips and stuff like that but it wouldn’t be things I needed.  But it wouldn’t be things that just, because I was so scared about money because I had so little of it for so long.  I wouldn’t just buy things, you know, I guess all willy-nilly. I was pretty tight with everything.

With the list, for example you’d go to the store.  You always buy the same toilet paper?


So your decision is guided by price.

A lot of the time.

Did you ever get to a spot when shopping after severe brain injury where it’s like you were going to get cereal and there were too many choices, there were just too many options for you to really be able to decide? 

Not really because on the cereal I don’t do like the sugary sweet stuff and whatever I can find in like the higher priced box you can find it in a generic bag.  It’s just as good and cheaper and I’ll end up getting that.

So you’re guided by your cost consciousness with your shopping after severe brain injury.

All of it, yes sir.

Does the process of shopping after severe brain injury wipe you out?

Yes sir.  Most any, I do a lot of things but if I do spend an hour of intense focus on certain tasks there’s a good hour and a half to two hours that I’ll sit there and really just absolutely do nothing and decompress.  I can’t really think about things.  I can’t really do anything.  There’s no task performance.  I mean I will really just, I just can’t do anything.

Now what we’re doing now there’s just the two of us talking.  There are a couple other people in the room but they’re not involved in the conversation.  Is this the kind of thing you do, you have more success with than like in that room earlier when there were 15 to 20 people talking?

I have a problem with lots of people for just ridiculously extended periods of time.  Like I would, before my accident I knew I’d love to go do things like Six Flags and concerts and stuff like that where there’s a lot of people.  I’ve not done anything like that since the accident because. There’s just too much, I guess like I said sensory overwhelming.

In what ways do you, the fancy word would be “decompensate” but what ways do things go from bad to worse for you, when you put yourself in those situations?

My anxiety levels raise up real high.  I seem to get a little more agitated but that’s something I’ve really been working on for over the past two to three years.  Kind of trying to not take things to heart so much and not I believe “catastrophize” was the word my therapist used, because I always expect the worst because I had a lot of the worst that could happen, happen to me.

Next in Part Seventeen– Mood and Anxiety After Severe Brain Injury

By Attorney Gordon Johnson


About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447