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.
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.
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.
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.