Wondering why I am asking you to count your spoons? As funny as it may sound, the phrase count your spoon has been circling the internet on and off for a few years now. In 2003, Christin Miserandino came up with the “Spoon Theory” to explain to her friend about life with lupus. Since then spoon theory has been associated with scores of chronic illnesses. People with some form of chronic illness have often agreed and aligned with Christin’s description. The lucid and simple analogy clearly explains the difficulty of prioritizing day to day tasks for a person suffering with chronic illness.
If you are some one who is living life with a chronic illness like Lupus, IIH, Multiple Sclerosis and many others, the term chronic governs your life. You probably count your spoons at the beginning of each day! If you do not know the theory yet, here is a brief info on its inception:
While Christin was enjoying a meal with a friend at a restaurant, her friend posed a question to her, “How does it feel to have Lupus”? Christin taken aback at first with the unexpected question, set forward to grab spoons from all the tables around them. Then she began her explanation. Each spoon represented the number of tasks to be done in a day.
Christin explained to her that “the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.”
She asked her friend to hold the spoons in her hand and asked her to list all her tasks in a day right from the simple task of brushing her teeth, to having dinner. She tried to put focus on the fact that a normal healthy person can start a day with an unlimited amount of energy and endless possibilities. However for a person with lupus, it takes control and a huge deal of energy. It is in control of taking away her spoons. By which she meant, her fluidity of doing tasks was controlled by lupus.
So, Christin’s friend planned to progress with her day with the spoon theory, and Christin was given the responsibility of taking away each spoon to represent a failed task. Thus, if the friend was to make lunch but forgot to take her medicines the day earlier, Christin would take away two spoons from her. This meant she now cannot do those two tasks for the day! By the end of the conversation, Christin’s friend lost more spoons and in the end she had only a few left. Which means while her day started with a plan to do a lot of work, she ended up doing may be only 3 of them. This is when Christin makes her point to count the spoons before grabbing them! Planning ahead with the possibility of what tasks could be inhibited in her day, she made sure not to overload herself and take it one step at a time.
For folks who have the opportunity of having a healthy life, you might want to take note of this simple yet extremely useful theory. The lesson to learn here is “prioritizing your tasks”. Most of us fall prey to extremely tight schedules, and fumble to meet deadlines when too many tasks are at progress at once! This is when you need to count your spoons, prioritize and weigh what you can do later, or what can be done first. Prioritizing tasks is also a valuable skill, which like any other skill can be honed and mastered over. If you have in your acquaintance someone who is battling a chronic disease, don’t forget to share this article with them!