"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan

Explaining "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino

by - Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I'm a spoonie. Each day I have to carefully count my spoons. It's something I'd rather not do but in order to thrive and live successfully with chronic illness it's an essential task, one which can be laborious and a source of both stress and frustration at times. I'm constantly having to keep a vigilant eye and take stock of how many spoons I have stashed away. Some days I am blessed with an abundance, others I'm lucky to scrummage around to find a few. One minute I can have an abundant supply and the next I've completely run out.

Those who battle chronic illness can identify with everything I've just said. The healthy probably think I've well and truly lost the plot... not just yet. According to Urban Dictionary, a "spoonie" is a person living with chronic illness that identifies with Christine Miserandino's Spoon Theory. This theory is particularly used by those suffering from a disease or disability of some kind. "Spoonies" are people who live with chronic illness; theoretically measuring personal daily abilities much as one would measure the proper amount of spoons needed for an event or occasion... sometimes having an abundance, other times coming up short.

That's right. If it's in Urban Dictionary it's totally cool. In all seriousness though, explaining to others how an invisible illness has changed our life is near impossible but Christine Miserandino has come up with a brilliant analogy which describes life with chronic pain while helping family and friends have a better understanding. Her theory describes the constant limitations we face with chronic illness perfectly and I strongly recommend those of you who haven't read The Spoon Theory to do so because I will be referencing it in this blog from now onwards.

In case you haven't deciphered what I'm babbling on about yet, the term "spoons" refers to our amount of energy. When I'm all outta spoons it means that I am completely out of energy for that day and can't manage any more tasks. For every activity I do, I have to sacrifice a spoon. Sometimes I have to sacrifice several. For healthy people this isn't a problem because they have an abundance of energy and need not think twice about not having enough energy left over to sustain them after a simple shower.

I am constantly having to make compromises. Take showering, for example. That costs me 2 spoons. Shaving- take away another 2, doing laundry- take 4, making my bed - take another 1.... going shopping- take away 6. On a fairly good day I'm blessed with between 8-9 spoons. That's no where near enough to get me through all of those tasks and still have energy left over for the next day. So I have to take stock of how many spoons I have and work out what I can cut that day. A healthy person wouldn't think twice about these activities but I have to give them thought, I have no choice. They come with consequences. I'm running on limited energy "spoons" daily. And there are days where I just can't get anything done because my illnesses have just sapped all my spoons despite my careful planning.

Before you all have a good laugh at the ridiculous photo-shopped spoons hanging off the clothesline in the background... this photo was for an awareness campaign over at butyoudontlooksick.com. The spoons represent my exhaustion from this task.

Yep, this is me back when I was on prednisolone a couple of years ago. A fat moody bitch in one simple pill! I cannot believe I am even sharing this photo with you. I hate it. But this is what a spoonie looks like. Apart from my moon pig face (it's back to it's normal size now thank the Lord), I look healthy. But I'm not. I'm a "spoonie"- some days really suck, some days I'm all outta spoons but I somehow survive and thrive.


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