“Is this woman making similarities between living with a chronic illness and hosting a fucking tea party?”
So yesterday when a good friend (and fellow Crohns patient) asked me this in his oh so Daniel Lee way, I realised not everyone will realise what a ‘spoonie’ is. Not even fellow spoonies it appears!
Christine Miserandino came up with the spoon theory when trying to explain to her friend what living with a chronic illness felt like. She grabbed a bunch of spoons and handed them to her friend, asking her to count them up. She explained a healthy person wakes with an unlimited supply of spoons and energy to face the day ahead. A person with an illness or disability will only have a certain number of spoons to face the day with.
Asking her friend about what she did to get ready for work, she reeled off her routine of getting up, showering, breakfast, dressing etc. All the while Christine was pinching her spoons to represent the energy being used up for each of these tasks. Her friend begun to understand what Christine was trying to demonstrate when she hadn’t even left for work but had only 6 spoons left to last the day.
‘Spoonies’ days are meticulously planned based on what NEEDS doing – a hospital appointment or getting the children to school for example. Then everything else will have to fit in around that. There may be no spoons left to eat a meal or shower that day. You could borrow some spoons from the next day but then have to be prepared for that day to be even harder.
This is how we live our lives. It is hard and takes careful organisation. We don’t have the option to be frivolous and waste our spoons, we have to account for them all carefully. Unexpected things can interrupt your planned routine – the weather can affect your joints and leave you with less spoons for the day. You might have a bag leak and need to reallocate your spoons to accommodate a bag change, an unexpected shower and redressing. A bad night’s sleep will lower the amount of spoons you have for the day ahead.
This theory goes some way to trying to explain to a healthy person how the chronically ill live each day with their disabilities and I hope it has been helpful to you! To read the full story of the spoon theory feel free to check out: