A little while back, I said I’d talk about what “spoon theory” or the term “spoonies” means. I’m not keen on the label, but as a theory it goes some way to explaining how people with chronic illnesses that suffer fatigue as a result, can manage their energy levels.
It felt significant to do this today, as it’s taken me twice as long as usual to get ready to go out for a drive with Dave. I’ve been desperate to get out, but actually now I’m ready I just want to go back to sleep!
So spoon theory – imagine that you have 12 spoons, each one representing an equal portion of your energy levels for that day. BUT, if you didn’t sleep well last night, you probably only start with 11 spoons. If you’re unwell or have a cold, you’ve probably only got 8 to start. I’m quite possibly on even less at the moment as I’m “immunosuppressed”.
Every activity in a day uses a spoon, or part of, and in people who suffer with chronic illness related fatigue, more spoons are used to complete the activities. On top of that, it takes longer to replenish the spoons when they run out.
So as an example, on a bad day prior to Lemtrada treatment, I would probably use two or three “spoons” just dragging myself out of bed, stepping in the shower and getting dressed and ready for the day. At the moment, that’s taking up pretty much all of my spoons, but that’s ok – it’s a short term thing.
Sometimes you might “overspend” your spoons for the day. So even with a really good night sleep, you’ll end up with fewer spoons the next day. This might happen if you really don’t want to break an appointment or plan with a friend, or you go on a birthday celebration. You might be short on spoons for a day or two after. If you suffer with fatigue, you’ll know that this will happen, but living your life how you want to, and not how your illness tries to make you live it is usually worth it!
This theory is completely relevant, not just to MSers, but any fatigue related to a chronic illness. It’s so important to remember that just because people look ok, it doesn’t mean that they’re not trying to conserve their spoons!