Spoon Theory……..

One of the most debilitating symptoms I experience on a daily basis is fatigue. It’s difficult for anyone who hasn’t experienced this type of fatigue to understand what it feels like. It isn’t like the feeling of just needing more sleep; it’s complete physical and mental exhaustion. The only other time in my life that I have experienced this type of fatigue was after giving birth following a 21 hour labour. There are times when I feel like I am walking through treacle and struggle to support my own head; making decisions become impossible. I do my best not to get in this state by pacing my activity as best I can.

Christine Miserandino has lupus and experiences chronic fatigue. She came up with a brilliant analogy called Spoon Theory to enable her friend to understand what her life with fatigue was like. Christine used a set of 12 spoons to represent the amount of energy she had to ‘spend’ on daily activities. She then assigned her daily activities a number of spoons e.g. getting dressed – 1 spoon, taking a shower -2 spoons and so on. Christine then explained that if she ran out of spoons she could either not do anything else that day or occasionally she could ‘borrow’ spoons from the next day. Either way the average of 12 spoons a day remained the same. During bad periods this average could be lower.

Currently I am in a bad period and running on 8 spoons. My spoon expenditure is as follows:

  • Getting up and dressed 1 spoon
  • Getting up, dressed and showered 3 spoons
  • Making breakfast/lunch 1 spoon
  • Taking care of the cats. 2 spoons
  • Going on a short 15 minute walk 3 spoons
  • Doing physiotherapy 3 spoons
  • Practising the piano 2 spoons
  • Looking after family. 4 spoons
  • Making phone calls/appointments 1 spoon
  • Going to local shop 2 spoons
  • Going out and being social. 4 spoons

Ideally I’d like to be able to do my walk, physiotherapy and piano practice everyday but at the moment that would be all I’d be able to do before crashing. I constantly have to make trade offs e.g on days I shower I don’t do my walk and I make sure I don’t have family duties. I don’t like letting people down so I always drop the activities that only I benefit from e.g. my piano practice and physiotherapy first before anything else. I struggle with being a burden on others and try to do my best to minimise this. There are times when I have to hold my hands up and say I can’t do anything right now because I’ve reached the stage I described at the beginning of this post.

Ironically one way to increase my spoon allowance quickly is to incorporate more exercise into my day. If I were to do my walk and physiotherapy every day without fail I would probably be running at 10-12 spoons at the end of the third or fourth week. In order to do this I’d have to be utterly selfish and not do anything else at all. Instead I am doing the best I can and hoping this bad period will be over soon.

I don’t mean to sound self pitying in this post. I’ve lived with this condition for 15 years now and it’s just the way my life is. I have lots to be thankful for not least a loving and supportive family and most of the time I am happy with my lot.

Depression, Tummy Tuck, Weight

Going through the dark times and coming out the other side……..

2022 has been a year of extremes for my poor brain. I began the year having finally achieved my target weight. It took a lot of time, effort and introspection to permanently change my eating habits and I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel to finally reach my goal. I was obviously very happy but I immediately started to feel anxious as I have never been able to maintain my weight before. I’ve always been losing or gaining depending on whether I was in a diet or binge phase. I was acutely aware that most people who lose weight eventually regain it and this was true of me in the past. I knew I never wanted to be overweight again. The way I have dealt with this isn’t particularly healthy. I now obsessively count calories and ensure that I am at least 200 calories below my maintenance allowance for 5 out of 7 days and eat at maintenance for the other two. This way I know there is no way I can gain any weight so I don’t have to weigh myself every day. I know this way of dealing with my weight anxiety is wrong and I have been seeing a therapist for the past couple of months trying to find a way through.

I have now fully recovered from my tummy tuck surgery and I am ecstatic about the results. I will be having a small revision on the left hand side of my horizontal scar on my tummy as it has healed and left a small fold. This will be done under local anaesthetic on November 7th. When everything is all healed I will post my final before and after photos.

The main reason for my stress this year is that I am having to face the possibility that a close family member may have dementia. I wasn’t sure at the beginning of the year but over the past 3 months there has been a definite deterioration in cognitive function. We are waiting for a brain scan which could take as long as 5 months so there is no chance of any diagnosis before then. It’s a horrible position to be in; it’s like being in limbo. I have no idea what the future holds so I can’t make any plans. If there is one thing that calms my stress it is having a plan of action.

With all these things going on in my life I have been struggling with my mood. I’ve just had a couple of really bad weeks with depression and feeling frustrated that I can’t self medicate with food anymore. I am starting to come out the other side of it now so I’m hopeful things will improve.