8th/9th/10th/11th May, Spoon Theory; Explaining Chronic Fatigue

I’m a few days behind with this blog (which is why this post is for 4 days) so I thought I’d explain why; I’ve had a serious lack of spoons. Let me elaborate…

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is one of the more disabling aspects of EDS and, unfortunately, it’s one of the things that affects me quite a lot. It is one of those conditions that is very hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have it. The NHS website defines it like this: “Chronic fatigue syndrome is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness“. Whilst this is true, it’s not very helpful. Over the last few years, several analogies have emerged to try and explain to those without CFS what it is like to have it. My favourite of these is the Spoon Theory.

So What is Spoon Theory?

In spoon theory, a spoons are used to represent the energy it takes to do things.

Imagine that everything you do in a day costs you a certain amount of spoons:

  • Getting up = 1 spoon
  • Having a shower = 3 spoons
  • Getting dressed = 2 spoons
  • Cleaning your teeth = 1 spoon
  • Eating breakfast = 2 spoons
  • Getting the bus = 4 spoons
  • Studying/ working for 3 hours = 5 spoons
  • Eating lunch = 2 spoons
  • Going for a walk = 4 spoons
  • Ironing = 5 spoons
  • Watching TV = 3 spoons
  • Reading a book = 2 spoons
  • Cooking dinner = 3 spoons
  • Eating dinner = 2 spoons
  • Making a phone call = 2 spoons

And so on…

Someone who doesn’t have CFS has an unlimited supply of spoons.

Have a think, how many spoons did you spend yesterday?

Now imagine that you only have an allowance 25 spoons per day. Any spoons over this that you spent yesterday are taken off your allowance for today. If you didn’t sleep well last night take off 2 more spoons. If you skipped a meal yesterday take off a further 2 spoons. If you have a cold, take off 5. How many are left? Probably not enough to do everything you need to today.

This is what it is like for those of us with CFS. We have a limited amount of energy every day and, if we aren’t careful, it can be used up very quickly.

Spoon Theory is the brainchild of Lupus sufferer Christine Miserandino, and if you’re interested in the full story behind it you can read it here.

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So why is the blog late? In the first week of May I was playing in the pit orchestra for a production of ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’. Whilst this was a lot of fun and I don’t regret doing it, I had to borrow a lot of spoons. This meant that for the last week I haven’t had the energy to do very much and have had to prioritise certain things (i.e. my degree!) over writing the blog. I will try my best to do a daily post from now on but if I don’t, it’s probably because I ran out of spoons!

 

 

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