What Happened When I Became a Spoonie

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If you spend any time on-line reading about the effects of what it means to have rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll like come across the term “spoonie,” which refers to “The Spoon Theory.”

In a chronic condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, fatigue is significant. The pain and suffering caused by doing something most people take for granted, such as getting dressed, can be exhausting when you are gripped in a flare.

Christine Miserandino came up with The Spoon Theory to explain to a friend how her chronic illness impacted her energy levels. Imagine that you are allotted a finite number of spoons in a day, and each action (showering, dressing, making breakfast, etc.)  subtracts a spoon. You could conceivably have no spoons left by early afternoon, dependent upon your disease activity.

Last August, I ruminated about all the times I was so exhausted that I had nothing left for those I cared about. I often dragged myself into school, teaching a full-day, going home to prepare a meal, eat, do some prep work, then into bed by 9 pm. Only to repeat it all over again. There are those times when I did more than I should do. I grew up on a farm, after all: make hay while the sun shines, dontchaknow! My philosophy was that if I felt good, I should do things. Lots of things. Only that would often backfire, leaving me exhausted and sore the next day.  I am much better at managing my energy, now. Yes, there’s wisdom in aging!

Anyway, back to August, when I began to think like a spoonie. I am a spoonie. Spoonies have finite energy. And so on and on it went, thinking about what it felt like to be a spoonie. Until I realized that the more I took on this identity, the more tired I became. By identifying with it, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I began to believe it. The more I believed it, the more true it became.

Without any disrespect to Christine and the other spoonies, this is one word that I will not claim for myself. Instead, I will continue to do what I need to do to be as well as possible. When I’m exhausted, I’m exhausted. Period. I don’t need an additional label to box me in, especially one that ends up making me feel worse.

A chronic illness is challenging. That’s why I am diligent about employing a number of strategies to help me move through life. “Spoonieism” just won’t be one of them.

2 Comments to “What Happened When I Became a Spoonie”

  1. I am with you. I do not identify as a spoonie either. I am 60 and not able to see myself in that way either. I am glad for people who find the description meaningful. I do like being a type 1 diabetic. In the diabetes community our types are not descriptive of ability,rather descriptive how we came to share our common disease. Perhaps RA needs ot sek something similar. Adult Onset RA (AORA) or Juvenile Onset RA (JORA) ?

  2. Thank you for saying for me what I was afraid to say.

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