For the next few minutes I’d like to invite you to come on a [sort of] journey with me. We’re going to run through a typical day of yours, but, we’re going to do it in a way that most of you might not have done before.
There is a saying which goes: “Everything in life has to be paid for” … and, when you think about it, it’s pretty much correct. Now for your journey, I’m going to give you 12 (twelve) spoons.
Here they are. Your 12 spoons, all laid out nice and tidy.
These just happen to be little wooden spoons, but they could just as easily be metal or plastic. Or maybe big wooden cooking spoons. Dessert spoons; tea spoons; table spoons … any spoons you like. Even a total mixture of spoons. But just twelve of them.
These spoons are going to be your ‘currency’ – but not for buying clothes, sweets, furnishings, etc. These spoons are a currency for something else entirely. Something which we all take for granted.
Anyhoo … here’s where we begin your journey through your day, and where we ‘spend’ your spoons. Let’s start with …
- You wake up in the morning. You sit up and sit on the side of the bed while you put your slippers on and contemplate standing up. Now doing that ‘effort’ has just cost you a spoon. Your balance is now 11 spoons.
- You stand up and make your way to the bathroom. That effort cost you a spoon. 10 spoons left. . . .
Now … do you have a shower or go and have a coffee first? Ah, let’s have a shower. . .
- So … shower, towel dry, and brush your teeth. Phew! That was quite an effort! You just used 2 spoons. (yes TWO!). The balance is now 8 spoons.
- You take yourself off to the kitchen, make a coffee, eat some breakfast. Then either watch a little news on the TV, or read the paper, or perhaps you log onto your computer and check the news on-line or read/reply to emails. Pay another 2 spoons. The Balance on your spoon account is: 6 spoons.
Let’s see … next on the list is getting to work – by bus or train or car. Or ... you may be taking the children to school. Or perhaps you stay home and so maybe cleaning the house or even maybe going shopping!
- Now I know from experience how frustrating getting to work can be, whether you go by car, bus or train (or a combination of all) so just getting to work is going to cost you at the very least 2 spoons. Your balance is now 4 spoons.
- BUT… if you don’t go to work and instead you do some cleaning and tidying of the house, then a short walk of the dog, or just a walk yourself for the fresh air and exercise, then you too will have used up 2 spoons, so that means your balance is 4 spoons also.
Let’s say that it’s now 11.30am. You began the day with 12 spoons, and you now have only 4 spoons left.
4 spoons. It’s only 11.30am, and you still have things to do before lunch, and still have to get through lunch! You’d better pace yourself.
You decide to just sit at your desk and work. Not getting out of your seat or expending more than the necessary energy you absolutely need to, just to get you to lunch time. Or … if you’re at home, you decide the best thing to do would be to sit and watch some day time TV and relax as much as possible. You need to hang on to your spoons!!!
- Lunch time arrives. You have to leave your desk to go and buy lunch, or leave the sofa to go and make lunch. This effort costs you 1 spoon. 3 spoons left.
Three spoons, and you know that you still have to get home from work, and, or – if you don’t go out to work, then you have to prepare and cook dinner. Even if it’s only for yourself, you still have to make yourself something … and there are only 3 spoons left. It’s now 2.30pm. You’re going to have to work out how to go through till dinner time with only three spoons.
The afternoon sat at your desk (or on the sofa) sounds like the best thing – but you won’t be able to go and get yourself a coffee or tea, or even water …. because that would cost you a spoon. But you’re going to get thirsty and then you’ll get dehydrated which will give you a headache. Oh dear, what to do?
- It’s now 4.30pm and you’re hot, dehydrated, uncomfortable and getting just a little ratty because you’re in need of water. You HAVE to get water. You think carefully . . . and tell yourself to get TWO cups or glasses of water so that you don’t have to stand up and get another glass if you get thirsty again. So you do that very thing. Two glasses of water. You’re happy. You feel like you’ve beaten the system. YAY!
But you’ve lost another spoon! Spoon Balance: TWO
It’s now time to go home from work, – or time to get off the sofa and begin the preparation of food for dinner. The journey into work cost you 2 spoons – so you have just enough spoons to get you home. RELIEF! All your spoons used up, but you’re on your way home! phew! That was a close thing!
Or … if you don’t go out to work: you use up one spoon preparing a simple dinner. So therefore you have one spoon left.
Then doorbell rings. Aw who the heck can that be?
- You go and answer the door. It’s the next door neighbour bringing the big punch bowl that she borrowed for her party last weekend. She stays for a chat on the doorstep – which is lovely because you haven’t seen a soul all day, so it’s really fabulous to see someone and chat! She shares with you how the party went and how thrilled she was that she’d borrowed your punch bowl. A five-minute chat quickly turns into 12 minutes of laughing and talking about the weather, the garden, the cost of living. But eventually she leaves. You bring the punch bowl into the kitchen and realise how drained you feel, having had to stand at the door with that heavy crystal glass punch bowl in your arms, getting heavier and heavier as the minutes pass by …. and all the time knowing that if you didn’t sit down in a moment you were going to fall down!
You go into the living room and flop down, exhausted, on the sofa.... and as you do so, you realise that you just used up your last spoon standing at the door chatting.
BALANCE = ZERO – NO SPOONS LEFT.
You’re home, you’re in a safe place …. but … you’re hungry. It’s been a long day. You’re looking forward to dinner. But . . . hang on . . . how are you going to find the necessary effort to cook dinner, then clear away afterwards, do the washing up and tidy the kitchen up again? You have no spoons left.
This is a problem. You can’t have what you can’t pay for. Spoons have been your currency all day, and you’ve had to spend those spoons carefully. But … you now don’t have any left to get you through the last few hours of your day, feed yourself or even take yourself to bed.
So … what if you were able to borrow a couple of spoons? 2 spoons from tomorrows 12. It will mean that you’ll only get 10 spoons tomorrow – but at least you’ll have an extra two spoons today, which will let you cook the dinner, eat it and then clean up afterwards.
Do you take the spoons? Knowing that tomorrow you won’t then have enough spoons to last the whole day … or do you decide that you won’t eat dinner?
Lets say you take the offer … you cook dinner, eat and clean up. There. All done and dusted.
However, later . . . you want to go to bed – so you’ll need to get undressed, take a shower, brush the teeth, and finally … clamber into bed.
Aahhhh .. hang on. You don’t have any spoons left again. You need an extra couple of spoons for all that, and you’re so very tired. So weary. You’re in pain. Your legs hurt. Your back is killing you. Your neck is aching. You’re having some muscle spasms which are hurting you. Your arms feel so heavy that you can’t seem to pick them up. You can’t think straight, your head seems to be all fuzzy. Your hands keep jerking. You can feel the nerves all over your body buzzing – as if someone has plugged you into some sort of electrical supply. You NEED to lie down. You cannot stand up any longer.
You’re unable to think or even talk properly. You’re beginning to stutter and you can’t think why on earth your body is letting you down so badly. Perhaps someone should call an ambulance because this really isn’t right. You NEED TO LIE DOWN. But you have no spoons which would enable to get you to your bed.
Readers . . . what you’ve just read is my version or explanation of something called ‘The Spoon Theory’, originally written by a lady called Christine Miserandino who has Lupus, and who made up the spoon theory in order to explain to her friends how her condition affects her day.
I’ve just walked you/talked you through a typical day for you, or someone you know, and it was my way giving you an idea about what is experienced as a daily life of someone who suffers with a chronic illness and chronic pain.
A healthy person can begin a day with an unlimited amount of spoons (or energy), while a ‘spoonie’ (the term used to describe those who fall under the spoon theory) might have perhaps only 8 spoons at the start of their day, or sometimes even less.
There is no control over the amount of spoons because with chronic illnesses, the person suffering has no control over this important factor.. With a chronic pain syndrome, a ‘spoonie’ could wake up one day feeling great and have 12 spoons, but they could wake up the next day feeling just dreadful and with five or six spoons – it’s always out of the control of the ‘spoonie’ concerned. Even the simplest of tasks can quickly cause them to run out of spoons.
I know all this because like some other readers here, I myself am a Spoonie, and I have to ration my energy. I’ve had to seriously ration it over the past X number of months, as things have become more and more of a struggle.
I read about the Spoon Theory (by Christine Miserandino) quite some time ago and it struck me as such a wonderful way of explaining things to someone who had no idea of how a chronic illness and severe pain can seriously affect a sufferers life. Everyone I’ve talked to about the spoon story and talked them through a typical (for them) day, using an imaginary set of 12 spoons, have had a moment where I actually saw a light bulb go off inside their head as they ‘got it’. Even Mr.Cobs!
I even have my own set of 12 personalised spoons . . .
. . . and these spoons hang in my home, here in Cobweb Cottage.
Each of those spoons started life as an ordinary tea-spoon, but none of them are ordinary any more. I took photographs of them a couple of weeks ago and have been wanting to share them with you. But … this blog post has gone on long enough so I won’t bore you to tears with them right now.
However – I will share each teaspoon with you in my next post, so that if you want to make yourself some decorative spoons which mean something special to you, or maybe make one or more decorative spoons for someone else, then you might find a spark of inspiration from gazing at my spoons and it could set you off on a course of creativity which you hadn’t thought of before.
Next blog post in a few days time, …. I promise. 🙂
The reason for sharing the Spoon Story with you today is because I spoke about it, a couple or so weeks ago, in a reply to a comment which someone posted on the blog here. Another blogger read that comment and then we chatted about it, and I promised that I would post a blog post all about the Spoon Story (my version) – and said I’d post it in two weeks time. Well…. it’s now three weeks (or a bit more), but real life and a poorly doggy have got in the way, but, as the saying goes, ‘better late than never’, eh?
Thank you so much for coming and for taking time out of your day to spend a coffee moment with me. Your company is very much appreciated. . . but then … you know that already. 😉
May you have a blessed rest of your day, and a truly lovely week.
Sending you much love and a whole bundle of squidges ~