Spoonless

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And just like that, I woke up spoonless *.

Perhaps not just like that – lately I’ve been waking up really early: 4 or 5 am, and not usually getting back to sleep. I had a surge of energy in the last few days. This is in spite of my sleepiness and pain: I hurt, but within myself I felt quite a lot of energy. This may be because of my elimination diet keeping the gut-nasties at bay. Anyhoo, I did some spring-cleaning in the house. I took rests, but possibly not quite enough.

I knew I was in for it last night when I started to get lots of the old nerve pain: a forerunner of a bad time. Drat drat drat.

What do I mean by ‘spoonless’? It’s probably easier to read about ‘Spoon Theory’ from the source. TLDR: ‘spoons’ stand for the energy needed to get through a day. Most people have a heap of spoons and can get more easily. If you have a chronic illness/pain, you start with limited spoons and have to measure them out very carefully. Running out of spoons means no more functioning, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

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Come back, you tricky bugger!

Pain is a great spoon-soak. Normal things that would usually only take one spoon to achieve, e.g. taking a shower, cost two or more spoons during a pain flare.

The Spoon Theory has taken off among people with chronic illnesses, chronic pain and disability, and many people call themselves ‘Spoonies’. For a long time I didn’t want to identify as ‘broken’ but over the last couple of years I have come to accept myself as a Spoonie. It is comforting, in a horrible way, to see myself as part of a community; and the Spoon Theory helps me to remember that I really should be pacing myself more carefully.

So, I managed a couple of days of the sort of spring-cleaning that involves things like washing walls and removing layers of dust and gunge from the tops of wardrobes. **

I tried to pace myself with lots of different forms of movement and rest, but I think I managed to overdo it all the same. Last night I had nasty lower back pain: not something that happens often these days. I have a prolapsed disc and when it flares up it is really painful, but I usually manage to keep it under control through exercise.

I think spending that last spoon on housework did a number on it, though.

housework

Ah, sod that.

I am getting better at pacing my spoonage. On normal days I can generally get through by limiting the amount of things I agree to do: not too many evening events, and often saying no to social events. Prioritising exercise and sleep, and just doing at home what I need to.

On bad days I am now getting better at explaining to friends and family that I am not available at all, and doing the bare minimum of housework and other work.

The real trouble I have is with good days. When I get an unexpected surge of energy, I think ‘Hurrah! Finally my chance to do these things I have been putting off!’ It is very, very hard to force myself to rest when I don’t feel as though I need it. One gets bored, dontchaknow?

I have to work on the trick of slowing down on good days, or else I end up like this.

Drowning

Just … one more … room … to clean …

So today I have had to abandon a lot of plans. I intend to go and see friends this evening as usual ***, but these are friends who know the deal and will cope with the fact that I’m not quite myself. Apart from that, I will be taking it gently. I might take the Darling Dog out for a short walk to get my vitamin D and keep my spine mobilised, I’ll chuck on some slow-cooking so there is food I can eat. ****

And that is officially all I can manage.

For the next two weeks I am doing short days at work and this, I hope, will give me the chance to get those spoons back to normal.

 

* This works best if you imagine it being sung to this.

** Basically, it’s lucky I studied archaeology at uni, because those skills proved very useful.

*** This is necessary to prevent Cabin Fever.

**** Slow-cooking is a Spoonie’s best friend. Chucking it in and forgetting it for several hours is sometimes the difference between eating and not eating.

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