Everything Hurts

My Spoon Theory

Amanda VinciComment

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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! 🥄