Grocery shopping and gray matter

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Comments : 2

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot of neurosurgery articles for work. It got me thinking – something as mundane as grocery shopping is a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of neurological goodness. I’m going to guess that everyone reading this takes grocery shopping for granted. Heck, I’ve had a brain injury and I take it for granted!

But think about it…

At the grocery store, we steer a cart through sometimes-narrow aisles, navigating around small children tugging at their moms’ pants legs to get sugary cereal and wobbly cardboard displays of the latest “must have” items. That takes coordination, large muscle group control, and balance. All controlled by the brain.

We make decisions, often having heated arguments with ourselves of the “should I buy these cookies or those gluten-free flaxseed bars?” variety. (Well, those are the arguments I have, anyway.) That’s complex thinking. Controlled by the brain.

We reach for the freshest milk at the back of the cooler, judiciously select the ripest-looking fruit, pick the little oregano jar that’s hiding at the back of the spice shelf. Fine motor control, anyone? Controlled by – you guessed it – the brain.

I wrote an article recently about how patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease use eye movements to control a cursor to communicate when they become “locked in” (meaning they’ve lost ALL muscle control.) And yet every week or so, I do my grocery shopping without realizing what an utter miracle it is. I need to keep this more top-of-mind.

If nothing else, that should make it a little easier to take the next time I’m in the checkout line behind someone with 34 coupons who’s paying with an out-of-state check.

About the Author
Writer of whodunits, blog posts, humor essays, children's books, and medical copy. Either flexible or indecisive. Your choice. :)
  1. Matt Genne' Reply

    Katy, I was hearing this song in my head as I read your post —

  2. Katy Reply

    Geez, Matt, that’s kinda depressing! (I don’t know the song, so I Googled the lyrics.) :)

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