I am a Spoonie. Some of you are Spoonies too. Some of you are reading this and feeling a sense of togetherness and community. Though our symptoms may vary greatly and our conditions may not be the same, as Spoonies we are part of a huge support group.
For those of you not familiar with the term Spoonie let me offer you an explanation. A spoonie is a person living with one or more chronic illness that identifies with Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory. Spoon Theory is a dramatization/illustration of what life with a chronic condition is like using spoons. It’s worth reading through if you happen to have loved ones that live with chronic conditions such as Lupus, APS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Asthma.
I have two conditions that make me a Spoonie. Lupus and Antiphospholipid Syndrome. They both cause their own set of problems and at times it’s really hard to tell which is the bigger pain in the rear. The scariest of the two is definitely APS. It is an autoimmune blood clotting disorder. Due to it I had a miscarriage May 2013 and then a series of TIAs over several weeks later that year. Autumn of 2013 I also suffered from a blood clot in my right eye and now have a blind spot because of it. Other complications from APS include chronic migraines, brain fog, and other neurological issues. Lupus also causes me chronic joint pain, rashes, chronic fatigue, flu-like symptoms, random fevers, and a plethora of other symptoms that have been difficult to learn to live with. Even the medications (this should read small pharmacy that I have acquired) have crazy side effects and have been an adjustment.
Life as a Spoonie means starting the day knowing I have to make decisions based on not what I need or want to get done, but more so based on these ruling forces in my life that change from day-to-day. My energy levels and physical abilities (number of Spoons) varies greatly from day-to-day. As a person that has never been one to set quietly on the sidelines, this has been a very frustrating realization and acceptance process. There are still moments on a day where I start the day with fewer spoons than I need to accomplish what I need that I get discouraged and feel hopeless. I constantly have to remind myself to take time out and reserve my spoons. Running out of spoons puts me at risk for a full-blown flare of my conditions and then instead of having a day where I do low-key activities and take time off for myself, I may end up being down for the count for over a week.
It’s odd to view every task as something that may be the task that benches you for the rest of the day. That’s how my life is though. I know at any moment, even on days that my energy is plentiful, it could all vanish with no warning. Vanishing spoon syndrome is what I like to call it. So I try to plan my day accordingly and make sure I get the most important things done early. If I can get the important things done first each day, hopefully on the days I run out of energy before the day is complete, I can move my list of uncompleted tasks over to the next day to be completed tomorrow.
Being a spoonie has taught me the value of knowing that not everything has to be done when I think it has to be. That some things can be put off to another day. It has made me reevaluate how I do certain things and it has caused me to implement some changes in my life. I have also over the last year of being a Spoonie found ways to make the processes I deal with easier, and I’ve gotten creative with how to save spoons. That’s what you do though, you learn how to live life within the restraints your conditions place upon you while living life to the fullest. That statement seems contradictory but it’s the reality of it. It’s amazing how many contradictions being a Spoonie has brought into my life. Here are a few of them. The amount of medicines I take just to feel somewhat close to normal, but I’ll never be healthy again. I’m on medicines that are considered High Risk and that could cause cancer. This came with a verbal warning that went something like this “This may cause Leukemia or Lymphoma but it’s our best bet at making you feel better. Plus the good news is we can cure those! We can’t cure Lupus”. I see my doctors more than a lot of cancer patients see their doctors, I’ve actually been told this by both an Oncologist (who happens to be my Hematologist) and by a cancer patient who was recovering after a few rounds of Chemotherapy.
Most of all being a Spoonie has left me at this odd point in my life where I find it very hard to relate to a lot of people. I’m just very lucky and grateful to have a close group of loved ones that love me for who I am and that are very supportive and accepting of who I am regardless of the changes that have occurred in my life.
I’m excited to say I am taking part in the SUPER SPOONIES STORY SWAP. It’s a network of other Spoonies sharing their stories about their Chronic Illnesses and what life is like for them. I encourage you to check it out. It is a pretty cool project!