Here's how it goes: You hand over to your friend a limited number of spoons (eg. 20) and say, "There you go, You now have fibromyalgia/a chronic illness."
|(c) Chronic Hope|
Most people start their days with unlimited energy and possibilities to do what ever they desire. By and large, they don't have to worry about the effects of their actions. But we start the day with a limited number of 'spoons'.
Ask your friend to count their spoons, because having a chronic illness means you need to plan your day; you need to know exactly how many 'spoons' you begin the day with. Then, list all the things your friend does in a day, from normal tasks, like brushing your teeth, to fun things like going out for dinner.
Explain how each thing they do costs them a spoon.
For eg) getting out a bed, when you are sore & exhausted because you didn't sleep last night costs you two spoons. Brushing your teeth and taking a shower each costs you a spoon. Walking to the car costs you another. Catching the train at peak hour costs you two spoons. Having a meeting at work costs you a spoon while enjoying a lunch with three girlfriends might cost you three spoons. Catching the train back home, whilst standing during peak hour, costs you three spoons. Carrying your work laptop home might cost you one spoon. Making yourself some instant dinner might cost you one spoon. Dealing with your high pain levels for the whole day will probably cost you three spoons. Remembering to take your medication during the day will probably cost you another spoon.... and before you know it, you're empty. There's no spoons left. You haven't got a spoon to talk to your family, or one to get ready for bed or another to fall asleep. So you borrow three of tomorrow's spoons. Only now, you have only 17 spoons to get through tomorrow with.
A couple of days, weeks, or years like this will quickly teach you that you just can't spend your spoons willy-nilly. You need to evaluate each day & think carefully on how you are going to spend your spoons. For instance, in the above case, you might have to cancel your lunch with three friends, so that you have enough spoons (ie. energy) to make it to bed that night.
Believe it or not, even spending time with God or reading the bible or hugging someone takes spoons.
For those of you currently struggling with chronic illness, I hope this is a helpful way for you to think about your day and how to survive through it. If you are someone seeking to support a chronic illness sufferer, I hope this has been a helpful glimpse into what's it like to live with chronic illness.
One of the best parts of this theory, is that it is not just for fibromyalgia or for lupus (that was what it was originally written for). I think it's a helpful explanation for anyone struggling with chronic illness.
So, how many spoons do you have today?
For a more detailed explanation of the Spoon Theory, click here. Refer to my previous blog post (here) for other helpful links to explaining and learning about fibromyalgia.