Everything Hurts

My Spoon Theory

Amanda VinciComment
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People who suffer from chronic illnesses tend to refer to themselves as "Spoonies". I do it all the time when referring to our community, especially here on Everything Hurts. If you refer to yourself as a Spoonie chances are you've heard the Spoon Theory, and if you're like me, you somewhat get it, but don't really understand how exactly it applies to your life.

The Spoon Theory was born when Christine Miserandino was asked by a friend what it felt like to be a person who's sick with Lupus while they were out to eat. Christine quickly grabbed all the spoons from her table and the tables around them and handed them to her friend. "Here you go, you have Lupus" she said to her. She explained that the difference between being someone who's sick and someone who is healthy is that you consciously have to choose what you're going to do each day. Every day you need to count your spoons and know just how many you have before you get started, then, with each activity or task you do you have to give away one of those spoons. The theory really breaks down into rationing your energy and strength so that you can complete each day with the amount of "spoons" you are given.

I always had this theory in the back of my mind, especially when having to explain my conditions to my friends and family. Sometimes I use spoons, but other times ill just use whatever is around us to make the point. 

The truth is, I never really applied the Spoon Theory to my actual life. Every day is different, and good days can mean twenty spoons while bad days can mean 3... but I figured it might be fun to to decode the Spoon Theory for myself, calculating the amount of "spoons" I have on an average day and just what I use them on.

SPOON 1: GETTING OUT OF BED
Whether its a great day or the worst one ever, getting out of bed will always cost me at least 1 spoon. Sometimes 2-3, but on an average day 1. I have to contort myself into different positions until I feel like I can finally sit up and prep myself for putting my feet on the floor.

SPOON 2: GETTING READY
Getting ready for work is the hardest thing I do all day. Harder than training with my personal trainer, harder than walking up the steps at Penn Station, harder than walking back and forth to work. Just putting my clothing on feels like an Olympic sport, and don't even talk to me about doing my damn hair.

SPOON 3: DOING MY DAMN HAIR
OMG MY HAIR. Sometimes I decide to not even spend this spoon. If I don't have a date or an afterwork event, forget it, it's going up or it's staying a mess, I really don't care. It's not worth it. I'm Sicilian and my hair is difficult to tame, so if I am doing my hair it's when I have a spare spoon after showering at night or some extra time in the morning.

SPOON 4-5: COMMUTING
I have an amazing job as a Senior Art Director right in Midtown Manhattan, and I'm so lucky that I live right in walking distance of the train that takes me to work in about 45 mins. I take a 10 min walk to that train in LI and then another 10 min walk from Penn Station in NYC to my office. All that hustling wakes me up and gives me a boost of energy that I need to start my day, but usually costs me 1 to 2 spoons.

SPOON 6-8: WORK
I spend an average day working at my laptop, getting up to go to meetings and walking the Highline to get lunch. All in all, it costs me about 2-3 spoons.

SPOON 9-10 (or 100): COMMUTE AGAIN
Commuting home usually costs about 1 spoon, but thanks to the irregularity of the MTA and the hellscape that can be an overcrowded and delayed Long Island Railroad, it may straight up kill me, there's no telling which one.

SPOON 11 or +1: PHYSICAL THERAPY (2x a week)
Depending on how I'm feeling physical therapy can either give me back or cost me a spoon. On an average visit I pretty much break even. I love going to get a great stretch, heat and stim and a massage targeted to what hurts me the most that day. 

SPOON 12-14: PERSONAL TRAINING (2-3x a week)
I absolutely LOVE working with my personal trainer Rob (see my previous post for more info!) even though these sessions make me feel empowered and successful, they definitely cost a spoon or 2.

SPOON 15: FERRETS
You've probably heard about my ESA Sneaky Weasel, one of the biggest little loves in my life! And recently I've been blessed with another ferret, Cannoli. He's nowhere near an ESA yet, and is still a frisky 8 month old who's up to no good. Cleaning up, playing with and caring for these guys definitely takes a spoon away.

SPOON 16: SHOWER & BED PREP
Getting ready to go to bed is almost as exhausting as getting ready to get up from it. I have a pretty long routine thanks to my addiction to beauty products and muscle rubs and stretches, but if I skip out on it all I usually don't feel as good for the next day.

ALL IN ALL: 16 spoons
Not bad, not bad at all.

So that's my average spoon usage! On other days I'll swap out therapy and training with a work event, a date, time spent with friends or extra work/working late, but all in all I use about 16 spoons on an average pain day. What this means is that on a pain day where I have only 10 or even 5 spoons many of these activities have to be eliminated or modified. That's usually when I work from home, cancel plans or add in an activity that could help me to feel better, like taking a bath.

I'm super glad I ran through this to give myself an idea of how much energy and effort I have to spend as I go about my week. I definitely recommend you do it too! ๐Ÿฅ„

ย 

Train to fight pain!

Amanda VinciComment

The past few years of fighting chronic pain has been tough on my body in more ways than one. With little exercise, eating too many carbs and sweets and entering my late 20's, weight gain was inevitable. The more weight I began to put on, the worse I felt, and the less I moved. And the less I moved, the worse I felt. Things we're beginning to spiral out of control real fast.

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I've been going to the gym about 2-3 times a week for almost a year, and haven't seen any real results. I'd go in after a physical therapy session, so I was nice and warmed up, and then hit the elliptical for 30 mins for some low impact cardio. If I felt alright afterwards I'd move over to some weight machines and then call it a day. I was wasting my time, and getting no results.

One night after another useless workout I had the urge to ask about personal training, I was fed up and afraid, but it was time to make some sort of change. That's when I spoke to Rob. Rob was everything I needed right at that moment, he was super encouraging, curious about my conditions and optimistic about what I could achieve. I was always afraid of personal training, in my mind, that was something for fit healthy people, not a girl who struggles to climb the subway steps. My mind was about to be changed.

When I first booked a few trial appointments with Rob I wrote down "fibromyalgia, autoimmune disease, arthritis and www.everythinghurts.me" on a piece of paper, and he told me he'd do his homework. I came in a few days later and he was super excited to show me everything he learned about training someone with chronic pain. We got started on a training program that would condition me to excel at my every day tasks, reduce my pain and stiffness, and help me to tone up and slim down.

Rob's been training be for over a month now and the results are real. I'm physically a different person, and the changes are dramatic on the inside and starting to break through to the outside. He's got 3-4 different routines prepped for me, and we carry them out depending on how I'm feeling and what's hurting. Rob says the key to a successful trainer is education and observation โ€” seeing problems and trouble shooting them to find the right solution. When we work together, he's not just counting reps off to me, he's calculating โ€” studying my position, what's bothering me, what's going to strengthen me, and give me the best work out possible for that day.

Block Training is Rob's independent training business, inspired by the Eastern Block training systems that dominated sports before the time of the Cold War. A scientist was assigned to each athlete to break down their movements, study their muscle mass and body fat and find the solution to making them the best at their sport. This is how Rob approaches each of his clients, as individuals with unique problems that need specific solutions. If you live in the NYC/Long Island area I promise you you will not find a harder working more passionate trainer than Rob. Reach out to him at @block_training / blocktraining@yahoo.com / 5164745108 and tell him Everything Hurts sent you.

I've never felt more strong and determined in my life. I was always the kid who got winded running alongside the soccer ball at 6 years old, I could never imagine myself boxing, deadlifting and throwing a medicine ball. Now here I am, beating my 15 year old sister at reps of squats. And even though I'm still far from where I want to be, I'm a long way from where I've started.

Traveling Pains

Amanda VinciComment

I've been traveling a lot lately, and like most people, I love it. But unlike most people, traveling can actually cause me to be in more pain than I'm usually in. New and uncomfortable mattresses, long plane or car rides, extra physical activity and an unhealthy diet are all culprits in making some time away mean some time in a flare. I haven't let that threat stop me yet, and although I haven't been able to completely avoid being in pain for traveling, I've got some keys๐Ÿ”‘ to being as comfortable as possible during your vacation.

๐Ÿ”‘ GET AN AISLE SEAT
Flying on a plane? Make sure to get yourself an aisle seat ahead of time. Sometimes if they're not available the desk attendant can help you out before you board if you say it's for medical reasons! I've found that having an aisle seat means more room to stretch your leg and arm out when someone's not walking by, easier access to the bathrooms and less people touching you unexpectedly. If you're lucky you'll be able to get one that allows the side that hurts the most to get the most room.

๐Ÿ”‘ CUSHION IT
Whether you're driving or flying, bringing at least one small cushion with you allows you to prop yourself in ways to avoid pain. Some years ago I purchased this memory foam pebble pillow from MUJI that I always sleep with and travel with. Sadly, I can't find it anywhere anymore, so my old one is one of my most treasured possessions. When I forget to pack it along, my whole trip is out of sync.

Kayaking on Eagle Lake, PA

Kayaking on Eagle Lake, PA

๐Ÿ”‘ PLAN IT
I'm a self confessed over-planner. For every trip I go on, work or pleasure, I make myself a Google doc itinerary and save sights and restaurants on my Foursquare. Planning ahead assures me not only that I'm getting to all the spots I wouldn't want to miss, but that I'm not over doing it each day.

I beautiful Airbnb with good mattresses can make all the difference! Austin, TX

I beautiful Airbnb with good mattresses can make all the difference! Austin, TX

๐Ÿ”‘ BUDDY UP
Traveling with your emotional support animal can make all the difference in having a comfortable vacation. Contact the airline, hotel or airbnb you will be visiting to make sure you're good to go with your buddy. If you're planning on taking them to restaurants also either make sure they have an outdoor space or are cool with the animal being inside of the establishment. I recently had the most wonderful experience bringing Sneaky Weasel to the Dancing Cat Saloon in the Catskills of NY! They gave him a big bowl of cool water, let him use the rest room and even interviewed him for their Facebook live! 

Sneaky Weasel hits the great outdoors in Eagle Lake, PA

Sneaky Weasel hits the great outdoors in Eagle Lake, PA

๐Ÿ”‘ EAT UP
As soon as I touchdown in a new city, I can't wait to taste test the local eats. Planning which places I have to go to beforehand helps me to make healthier choices and assures I'm getting exactly what I want. Being a spoonie often means limited food choices, and can be hard to stick to your diet in uncharted territory. I'm pretty guilty of going way off path, but knowing where to go takes away the stress of finding something edible on the menu.

Delicious Pasta alla Checca (gluten free and vegan options available) at Hillside Farmacy in Austin, TX

Delicious Pasta alla Checca (gluten free and vegan options available) at Hillside Farmacy in Austin, TX

Insanely good Chilaquiles at La Condesa in Austin, TX

Insanely good Chilaquiles at La Condesa in Austin, TX

๐Ÿ”‘GEAR UP
Take travel sizes of everything you use on a daily basis to fight pain in your cargo. Muscle rubs, extra meds, stretch straps and muscle tape always makes it's way into my bag. If you wouldn't go a day without it at home, don't think you can go a day without it on vacation.

My favorite bath bombs and essential oils made tub time at the Glen Cove Mansion a sweet escape.

My favorite bath bombs and essential oils made tub time at the Glen Cove Mansion a sweet escape.

๐Ÿ”‘TAKE YOUR TIME
I'm a doer, not a relaxer. I'm the first one to get bored laying out by the water or hanging around the hotel room. Something I've been working on lately is enjoying the peace of freedom from the everyday. Your time away should be filled with beautiful sights, culture and adventure, but it should also be about you caring for yourself. Make sure to set aside time to heal mentally and physically and you'll notice the difference when you get back to reality.

Sun Basket saves the day!

Amanda VinciComment

As spoonies, we have a lot on our plate, and that sometimes means no time to literally put healthy food on our plates.

If you're looking for easy to make meals that won't make you run around to the grocery store and are absolutely delicious, healthy and organic, then you're looking for Sun Basket.

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The brilliant people at Sun Basket sent over 3 delicious meals for me to try and share with you all! The ingredients arrived in an insulated box, fresh, clearly labeled and ready to be cooked. I chose 3 vegetarian meals, but there are options for any dietary restrictions! I couldn't wait to get started on my full day of healthy meals.

First up: Mango Matcha smoothies and Fried Eggs with Spinach and Romesco.ย 

The Romesco sauce on fried eggs mixed with spinach is absolutely delicious, and something I've never tried before. I'll definitely be ordering this one again! All the meals come with everything you need, but this one was definitely the quickest to make. The mango matcha smoothies require you to have a blender, and absolutely opened up the world of matcha to me. So so delicious!

Next up was lunch: Beet, Orange and Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese and Curry Vineagrette. 

I'm not typically a salad person, but just writing about this one makes my mouth water. The salad comes along with a delicious piece of naan that suggests you toast it on an open flame, which I then used as a tasty spoon for my salad. Getting extra spoons already :)

I was super full after all that, but don't worry I powered through the next delicious meal. The just an sacrifices I make for this blog.

For dinner I treated myself to Seared Summer Squash and Black Bean Tacos with Cabbage Slaw. These were unlike any tacos I've made before. They were so full of flavor, and had just the right kick to them.

These ingredients came with Queso Fresco to top the tacos off with. It's so hard for me to find Queso Fresco around here, so I was super psyched I didn't have to spend time and energy searching for some! ย 

All 3 of these meals came off of Sun Basket's classic menu that updates every week, offering you endless meal options that you'll never get tired of. Each meal can feed 2 people, and you could probably feed 3 with the Tacos. They also offer family menu options if you'd like to leave prep for the week or feed a group! 

Every ingredient is organic and GMO free, giving us less to worry about when thinking about being good to our bodies.  Paleo, vegetarian, gluten free and classic options are plentiful, unlike other box food services, which makes Sun Basket the favorite one I've tried so far! 

When it comes to making healthy meals, save your spoons and fill your plate with organic meals from Sun Basket

Strange but true products for pain

Amanda Vinci1 Comment

These products may look funny, but boy are they serious when it comes to fighting your pain. Here are a few of my favorite tried and true odd inventions I use on the daily.

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Stretch Out Strap 

Should you spend $16 on a piece of Nylon with loops? Yes, you definitely should. This strap is often found at physical therapist offices, like my own, and is perfect for loosening super tight muscles, especially calves and hamstrings. I use it almost every night before bed, by lying right on my bed and putting my feet in the different loops. It comes with a booklet on how to use it, and you can also watch some handy videos on YouTube. This might be one of the best things I've bought to fight my pain.

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Soma System Glove

This might be the oddest looking thing I'm going to tell you to buy, but you're going to be so glad you did. This strange plastic hand mit has steel rolling balls attached to the palm and is the object of my affection. You simply place it on your hand and roll over your legs, arms, back, whatever... using the desired amount of pressure. The balls simultaneously roll on your pain spots all at once. This is the best use of $20 you can find. Trust me.

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Atlas Foam Roller 

Have you tried foam rolling? It's an amazing way to loosen and stretch aching muscles. Athletes usually use it after a workout, and is spoonies can use it just about anytime! Not all foam rollers are created equal, which is why I love the Atlas Foam Roller โ€“ complete with sturdy, cushioned handles on both ends that make using a foam roller even easier, especially for those with mobility issues. Check out their site for all the different sizes and weights they offer, plus their super helpful instructional videos! (Partner) 

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Spoonk Mat

If you're anything like me, you like to fight your pain with pain. Call me a masochist, sure, but the thought of driving little spikes into some throbbing muscles is quite calming for me. These spikes are made of plastic and are attached to a soft cushiony mat, and if you're willing to work up the nerve, can make a big difference to your well-being. The Spoonk Mat is for acupressure massage and can be applied to just about anywhere you're willing to lay down on. I don't use this every single day, but on days if bad back and neck pain, the Spoonk Mat saves the day.

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Gaim Roller

Think of this Roller as a Spoonk Mat and foam roller in one! The three little balls at the center are made of plastic dull spikes, and turn 360 degrees when you roll it up and down. I've found this really useful for neck and leg pain, and sometimes place it on the floor and roll my feet over it too. Just another friendly looking device to combat some killer pain ๐Ÿ˜

What strange contraptions do you use to fight pain? I'm always looking to add to my collection of oddities.