How spoonies do it: A theory that estimates and correlates with your energy levels

Now Spoonie communities have sprung up on social media across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate, counsel and share experiences.

Published: 14th August 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2022 11:24 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

One day way back in 2003, Christine Miserandino went out for dinner. The award-winning American writer had been miserable living with the debilitating autoimmune disease, lupus, and it took her an effort to get out of the home. Her friend asked her how it was living with the disease. “I thought she already knew the medical definition of lupus,” Miserandino writes on her website, ‘But You Don’t Look Sick’.

Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.” “How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself?”
Inspiration struck. Miserandino collected a bunch of spoons and arranged them on the table. One spoon equalled the energy she had to offer per day. She asked her friend to list all the possible things her friend
per day; with every task, Miserandino removed one spoon.

As the list piled up, she kept reducing the number of spoons, until the friend realised that she didn’t have the energy to do all that she wanted. That is when she realised that Miserandino went through such pain every single day. Since the body has a finite store of energy, every task depletes this supply. By calculating the number of spoons required to compute the energy needed to last through the day, the chronic patient can apply the Spoon Theory to plan routines and anticipate situations.

But what does a Spoonie do when they run out of spoons? Borrow against the spoons of a future date,
of course. However, when all the spoons are gone, it means the patient is bedridden. The irony is that chronic illnesses do not find many sympathisers. On the outside, such individuals appear healthy, especially the young ones. The first part of the world’s largest study on the aged, the Longitudinal Aging Study in India released last year, revealed some startling facts. About 75 million Indians suffer from some chronic disease or the other.

The most common are diabetes, stroke, cancer, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Now Spoonie communities have sprung up on social media across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
to communicate, counsel and share experiences. The most popular hashtags are #Spoonies and #SpoonieSupport.

How to use the spoon theory?

1. First, estimate the number of spoons you have on an average day. This number is subjective, according to your daily energy levels.
2. Assign spoons to daily tasks. Create an energy hierarchy. What are tasks you can finish without triggering symptoms like pain, weakness and brain fog? It takes less energy to watch TV than to drive to work.
3. Allot tasks according to the number of spoons you have.
4. Energy level is never constant. On some days they are low. This is nothing to be alarmed about. Identify such days and use them to rest.
It is important to note that many symptoms can occur in an unrelated fashion and that the effects
of a chronic illness differ in people.


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