Firstly, I would like to apologise for the drop in the number and frequency of these blogs. My health conditions, pregnancy, and other life “stuff” have been getting in the way and taking priority over the blog. I apologise for this, but hope you all understand! Fingers crossed, I should be getting back into the swing of things and posting up at least weekly blogs again.
Secondly, I would like to thank the brilliant Victoria Abbott-Fleming, founder of the chronic pain charity Burning Nights, for this brilliant guest blog on the subject of spoon theory! Her charity does a lot of work for the chronic pain community. In particular, in the understanding of CRPS/RSD (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). We first met at Naidex last year, where I interviewed her about the work Burning Nights does. You can catch that here. If you haven’t heard of the concept of Spoon Theory before, but you’ve heard of some of those in the chronic illness community describe themselves as a “spoonie”, this is the reason why!
So here’s Victoria, and the brilliant infographic she’s created explaining what spoon theory is, and how it can be used to explain chronic illness!
Using Spoon Theory to Explain Chronic Illness
What will I wear tomorrow? What would be the simplest thing to have for breakfast? Do I really need to have that shower? Should I spend the evening watching TV or researching good deals online?
These are all dilemmas which will sound familiar to people with chronic illness. They might seem like trivial questions to able-bodied people, but those with arthritis, fibromyalgia or other such conditions need to plan every day carefully. Failing to do so will likely lead to them running on empty by 5 or 6 in the evening and literally unable to do anything except go to bed – even then, the pain they feel could be so severe that sleep is off the table.
Another part of the struggle is explaining to able-bodied people just how poorly your condition makes you feel. Some would scoff and claim that you’re milking it for dramatic effect, but that is certainly not the case. That’s why most chronic illness patients across the world are grateful to Christine Miserandino for devising the Spoon Theory, in which she used 12 spoons to represent her daily energy stores, removing a spoon each time she took a shower or made breakfast.
The point of the exercise was to convey to able-bodied people how studiously chronic illness patients must approach each day and how quickly their energy stores can diminish from completing what seems like basic tasks. Burning Nights, a CRPS awareness charity here in the UK, created this infographic which explains the origins of Spoon Theory and how people can apply it to their lives to use their energy more efficiently so as not to be exhausted or pained by early evening.