After learning about Crohn’s and meeting people with other autoimmune diseases or chronic illnesses, I would always hear the term “spoonie.” I googled the term and remembered thinking that I really must not have Crohn’s that bad or at all because I didn’t feel like it described me.
For those of you who don’t know what the spoon theory is… the theory is used to describe autoimmune diseases or chronic illnesses affects on the body. So let’s say everyone wakes up with 10 spoons each morning. You “use” spoons when you do something strenuous throughout the day. Someone without a chronic condition can get through their entire day without “using” a single spoon. Or maybe they use a spoon to work out or go for a run. Nonetheless, they still have 8-9 spoons at the end of the day.
As for a “spoonie” each thing they do in a day requires a spoon. Showering? One spoon. Getting dressed? Another spoon. Walking up a flight of stairs? Depending on the day- this could be anywhere from 1-3 spoons. As you can see, spoonies run out of spoons rather quickly. They have to choose activities they are going to do in a day very carefully. Not to mention that most people with chronic conditions require a significantly higher amount of sleep…so say someone only go 6 1/2 hours of sleep instead of the normal 8? They might wake up with only 7 spoons that day, limiting even more of what they can do.
After having Crohn’s for almost 5 years, I felt very blessed that I had never experienced having to cancel plans time and time again,or not be able to take care of Jude, or not be able to do any normal activities. My flares when I felt like I had limited spoons only lasted a few days – other than that I felt like I could lead a normalish life. But then last month, it happened. I finally understood what everyone was talking about. I spent 9 LONG days in the hospital with a small bowel obstruction. I was SO excited to return to my life after getting discharged that I didn’t realize the affect being in there had on me. The few days following my discharge, I completely understood what being a “spoonie” meant. I was sleeping an average of 10 hours a day, plus naps after getting home but that didn’t seem to matter. I was literally napping or laying down after getting a shower or getting dressed. I went to a friend’s baby shower and was completely useless the remainder of the day. Cooking dinner even felt more like a chore than something I enjoyed.
I was amazed how the things I could do each day with no problems were like jumping through hurdles. Although I’m feeling a lot better since my hospital admission – I still feel like my spoons are carefully chosen each day. I’ve learned not to overwork myself and when I feel like I’ve run out of spoons – to just relax and take a breather.
It blows my mind that other people with chronic illnesses feel this way every.single.day. So my challenge to every person that reads this is to connect with someone and explain to them what The Spoon Theory is. If more people understood it, then maybe people whose lives have been drastically transformed by a chronic illness will stop getting called “lazy”, or stop losing friends over cancelling plans, or stop feeling just so misunderstood.
Because sometimes, we just physically cannot get out of bed.