Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Introducing Spoonies

Spoon Theory - or Spoonies as it's advocates call themselves.... have you heard of it? 

No, neither had i till a week or so ago.  it was after one of "those" nights when the combined efforts of toast, cocoa, music, book, relaxation, even the example of this somnolent, fur baby cutie had failed to nudge me into the  universe of Slumberland, where most sensible mortals spend the hours of darkness.  indulging in a rare moment of dejectedness over breakfast the next morning, and with my spoon deficit hovering around the level of the National Debt, the link below popped up on Facebook.   what a high fiving, air punching, fist bumping epiphany.    a contemporary allegory existed for a conundrum faced by the many who endure invisible, chronic illness, ergo.... how to describe something that is one hundred percent subjective and lacking a common vocabulary.  

The term spoons was coined by Christine Miserandino in 2003 in her essay The Spoon Theory, which is posted on her website But You Don't Look Sick. In it she recalls a conversation in which her close friend and roommate asked her a vague question about what having lupus feels like. The two were in a diner and Miserandino took spoons from nearby tables to use as a visual aid. She handed her friend twelve spoons and asked her to describe the events of a typical day, taking a spoon away for each activity. In this way, she demonstrated that her spoons, or units of energy, must be rationed to avoid running out before the end of the day. Miserandino also asserted that it is possible to exceed one's daily limit, but that doing so means borrowing from the future and may result in not having enough spoons the next day.

Special considerations

For some people spoons may be replaced after rest or a night of sleep. However people with autoimmune diseases, other chronic diseases, and various disabilities may have concurrent sleep disorders which result in a particularly low supply of energy. Some disabled people may not be fatigued by the disabilities themselves, but by the constant effort required to pass as non-disabled.
Chronic illness often has no obvious signs, no plaster cast, no bandage, no sutures, just an inconsistent, sometimes non-specific, set of symptoms with little or no chance of improvement.  one of the hardest things for a Spoonie to hear is a cheerful "oh.... hope you feel better soon".  that's the problem with chronic, it's    C H R O N I C   IT  AIN'T  GOING  ANYWHERE ! ! !

The Spoon Theory offers no false promises of miracle cure no transformational technique, no master plan for overcoming debilitating disease, it's simply a life style management system made manifest.    a spoon equals a unit of energy, and those with chronic illnesses tend to have a seriously curtailed number of units/spoons to use in a day, also our spoon doesn't hold as much as yours and that's before you add in the pain and fatigue quotient common with most invisible illnesses.   

When we were well if we used all our spoons it wasn't a disaster, a good night's sleep replenished our cutlery drawer and off we launched into the feast of life again full of bounce and with energy to spare for dessert.... once the coffee kicked in.   but for Spoonies sleep, if it can be found at all, doesn't revitalise in the same way and leads to physical and mental exhaustion accompanied by a menu of nasty, toxic symptoms that  can flatten faster and more comprehensively than a bout of e-coli in a fast-food deli.   sadly spoons don't come with a refund option.

The Spoon Theory suggests we have twelve spoons to use each day and certain tasks/actions use up a spoon.   so.... i use up one spoon simply by the Herculean task of easing my hurting body out of bed in the morning, putting on a kimono and feeding the cat.   a spoon is used making breakfast, another eating it and clearing away.   showering and getting dressed consume a spoon and lunch can use two or three depending on what i have.   so that's over fifty percent of my spoons used up and the day isn't half done yet.   when i was well i could tackle an entire day's employment using less.  the secret lies in using your spoon allocation wisely.   for me that means ready meals so i can have coffee with a friend.   paying a cleaner so i can potter a little in my garden.   breakfast in bed in order to do the laundry.   there are no winners in this game only trade offs.

It's abundantly clear that when the Great Cutler In The Sky was dishing out tableware some were bestowed with ladles, others teaspoons and even the ladlers can become Spoonies at any point in life as we are all just a mis-step away from life  changing infirmity.   i didn't say it was "fair".... it's simply the way it is.

Me ??.... i'll continue to count my utensils every day in an effort to avoid feeling like an Eton Mess and be grateful that there's enough in the rack to have an acceptable, if severely limited, life.   i can still shovel coffee into a cup and sit with my toes touching the grass in the garden whilst day-dreaming of world domination.   it's still a pretty good life, far from a dog's dinner.


Dan said...

I completely empathise with this. I have heard this analogy before and it resonates very strongly and helps span that conceptual gap between "tired" and "fatigued".

Every now and then I think I should write some kind of article on the different kinds of tiredness I know - there are many different types and they all taste different and have different effects, but I usually end up with same old ME excuse - I can't be bothered. Or maybe it is because I have better things to spend my spoons on.

sue sue said...

I have a friend who uses this system, it works for her, sometimes it doesn't x

brokenbutstillstanding62 said...

it's a fab concept. Like all these things the secret is listening to our bodies.... easy peasey.... NOT!

brokenbutstillstanding62 said...

the latter i suspect. i agree on the different iterations of tiredness, like Heinz 57 varieties.