If you haven’t been around here very long or your newly diagnosed, you may not know what a “spoonie” is. Allow me to explain.
The spoon theory was written by a woman named Christine Miserandino. She happened to be out to eat with a close friend who asked her what it felt like to be her, to be sick. Her explanation to her best friend has become what we now call “The Spoon Theory.” You can read about it here on her website, or if you’d rather watch a video, here ya go….
The gist of the story is that we all have a certain amount of energy we can use in a day. Unfortunately, for those with chronic illness (spoonies), our energy reserves are low and depleted quickly.
Learning how to pace ourselves and balance our physical exertion can be critical to getting anything done in the course of a day. Even if that one thing we get done is to simply survive.
Over the past few years I’ve watched as others navigate their own journey with chronic illness. Just like with anything in life, some do it better than others. I’ve noticed there are a few mistakes that most spoonies make at one time or another. Especially in the early years of their illness. Me, well, I’ve made them all.
Here are 8 mistakes most spoonies make.
- They don’t allow themselves enough time. Whether it’s how much time you plan for getting ready to leave the house or how long it will take to run a few errands – your time schedule has changed. Your body can no longer keep the pace it once held. Allow yourself extra time to sit for a bit, take a nap, recuperate, etc.
- They leave home without their meds. When you leave the house you may not plan to be gone very long, but things come up that might change the direction of your day, and you don’t want to be caught without your meds. I did a review of a cool product called PillSuite that I’ve found works great for keeping a day’s worth of meds in my purse at all times. Whatever you choose, a ziploc bag or a bejeweled pill box, carry your meds with you!
- They forget to keep creature comforts handy. Things you might have taken as a creature comfort when you were healthy might very well be the key to get you through whatever activity you’re attempting. Have a bottle of water with you at all times – that way if you’re out and it’s time for your meds you don’t have to take extra steps to find a drink. A snack of some sort like an energy bar, small bag of nuts or a piece of fruit is always good to have on hand. It can help to keep your energy up and your blood sugar stable as well as give your stomach something to do so you don’t take your meds on empty.
- They blindly trust their doctor. I know, I know. He has the medical degree and the $400,000 student loan to prove he knows more than you. I get it. I didn’t go to college for medicine either. But, he hasn’t spent the past 1, 5, 10 or 30 years in a chronically ill body with your specific illness. That automatically gives you a bit of a upper hand. No one cares more about your health than you do – it’s going to take some homework, but do it – be a well-educated patient. Get a second opinion, search the web, read some medical journals. I felt overwhelmed at first and didn’t understand all I was reading, but in time, you learn more and more and you’re able to take part in drafting the best healing and self-care regimes for your body.
- They care too much what others think. When you’re too worried about what someone will say you’ve lost the focus off what your body is trying to tell you. You can’t make anyone believe you or become more compassionate. All you can do is live honestly and share what you feel comfortable sharing about your illness and the rest is up to them. Unfortunately, some won’t get it unless they get it.
- They hide too much from others. We become award winning actors, don’t we? I think this piggy backs right off #5. We’re worried what they’ll say so we try to hide our symptoms and struggles. This will only make matters worse. You don’t have to announce every pain, stomach issue, etc, but there is also the other extreme of not sharing enough.
- They spend a good day catching up on work instead of having some enjoyment. This one has been the hardest for me. The guilt of not being able to keep up the house the way you used to, or your workload at your job, can be overwhelming and you may have to spend some energy catching up. But burning yourself out due to lack of rest and relaxation will compound your symptoms and make your flares and down time last longer. Give yourself a break. Do something you enjoy when you’re having a good day. (And no, binge watching NetFlix because you’re flaring too bad to move does not count as rest and relaxation!)
- They excuse bad eating or exercise habits. Have you ever noticed how some of the most pleasurable foods aren’t good for our bodies – at least not in the quantities we often eat them? I’m so guilty on this one! We’re having a pity party because we had to cancel plans for something we were looking forward to and now we’re stuck at home, miserable. To make up for our loss, we reach for a quick fix. Something salty, fizzy or sugary (you pick!). Food was meant to nourish our bodies, not make up for bad days. Poor eating habits and lack of movement will make your conditions worse. To top it off, it may also bring on more problems you don’t already have like diabetes, obesity, depression and increase your risk for other diseases. Do your body some good – feed it based on need and move it!