Chronic pain is defined by an online medical dictionary as: Pain that lasts beyond the term of an injury or painful stimulus. Can also refer to cancer pain, pain from a chronic or degenerative disease, or pain from an unidentified cause.
If you know anyone that deals with chronic pain, you should read The Spoon Theory. She put it in such an amazing way that really makes sense for anyone wanting to know what it's like. I was so touched by her explanation because I struggle to explain how draining it can really be to deal with.
You really should read the blog post this woman wrote, because 1)she'll get the clicks for it & know how many people are reading that post 2)my summary of it won't do it justice, but I'll try: The author says that she was explaining to a friend what living with a chronic illness with pain is like. She grabbed a bunch of spoons & said, "Here, you have Lupus," which is what the author lives with. She went on to explain that when you have chronic pain, you start your day with your own bouquet of spoons. You have to decide how you are going to "spend" your spoons each & every day, whereas a healthy person has unlimited "spoons" for their day. The spoons in your hand are what you have for the day, you don't have stores of energy to go about your day & nothing you do will give you more spoons. She had her friend count the spoon in her hand & her friend said 12 wasn't enough, she wanted more. The author explained that when you have this illness, you don't get to ever say that, that you'll always want more spoons, but you'll never get to receive more. That's it. 12 spoons.
The author was also in charge of taking the spoons away from her friend, just like her illness takes away her spoons without giving her a choice on whether she wants them taken away from her. She wanted her friend to realize what it is like to have someone else in control of your life because with a chronic, painful illness, you don't get to be in control anymore.
The author went on to tell her friend to list how she would start her day. As her friend started rattling off how she would begin her day, the author stopped her & said she doesn't get to just jump out of bed & bound off to the shower. She has to go through a painful process just to get out of bed & that took 1 spoon. It goes on with a shower costing a spoon, getting dressed costing a spoon, deciding which clothes she could physically put on due to her pain limiting her that day cost her a spoon, the extra movements of getting ready for the day cost a spoon. Before she's even gotten to work, her friend only has 6 spoons left.
The author explains that she now has to plan out her day very carefully because she only has those 6 spoons left. She can borrow from tomorrow's spoons if something comes up but only with the realization that tomorrow will be that much worse with less spoons than what she has today. She explained how tasks that others take for granted all cost spoons--standing on the train to get to work takes a spoon, sitting at your desk for too long takes a spoon, skipping lunch takes a spoon, running errands takes a spoon. By the time her friend got to the end of her pretend day, she had 1 spoon left & she had to make choices--make dinner, clean up after dinner, go out to dinner, drive home after going out, do laundry, spend time with the kids, help the kids with homework, clean the bedroom, make the kids' school lunches for the next day, prepare what is needed for the next day, clean up the spill in the living room, clean the bathroom, pick up the sock I dropped while carrying the laundry, bend over to get the pot out of the cupboard, let the dog out...each task takes 1 spoon. [some of these are my own battles, not all of them are in the author's original piece]
At the end, after her friend asks her how she does this every day, she said she has learned through it all to slow down, prioritize her health over what she used to be able to do, learn to be okay with not getting it all done, & to deal with feeling left out because her illness just doesn't let her do what everyone else gets to do. Every single thing, even what is "little" to others, must be attacked with a plan, missing the freedom to not have to count spoons, & not be able to just do things.
This explains my life perfectly. Everything I do costs me a spoon. I give a piece of me to anyone that I choose to spend time with because even though I love being with them, it does take energy & drains me. It leaves me unable to turn around & do what others see as a simple task. Going to work takes 4 of my spoons. Even making dinner or driving to school takes a spoon.
I sent the blog post link onto hubby.
I send him a lot of silly, goofy, uplifting, & serious articles, pictures, memes, & emails throughout the day. Sometimes he responds to them, sometimes he doesn't, even though he looks at/reads them all. The Spoon Theory was one that he didn't respond to. At first I thought that maybe he hadn't read it yet because I know that sometimes he sets aside the things to read until he has time to absorb them. Then I started wondering if he just didn't "get it" like I did, which was okay with me because I'm the one that lives it so it was entirely possible that it meant more to me than it would to him.
After a few days went by without him even mentioning this blog post, I figured it just didn't hit him like it hit me. Oh well, I tried to tell him what it's like, I thought. I didn't get upset, I didn't think he didn't care, I just thought he didn't have the same appreciation for it that I'd had. That's okay.
Time went on & I still thought about The Spoon Theory. It gave me a new way to look at how I deal with this. Instead of being angry at myself for not having the energy to do what I want to do at the end of the day, I started counting the spoons I had in my hand as my day went on. The Spoon Theory adjusted my thinking so that I wasn't seeing every single thing as daunting, but instead I was weighing them out in how much they would cost me. I weighed the cost ahead of time instead of getting to 4:00 in the afternoon & feeling depleted. I learned how to visualize reserving spoons so that I would have enough for everything that was the most important. I was still angry at the loss of control over what I get to do with my own body & still disappointed when I couldn't do everything in a day that I used to, but I was learning a new way to cope with it.
It's okay that hubby didn't say anything about that blog post. It was giving me a new way to deal with the hand I was dealt & that was okay with me.
Christmas Eve hubby surprised me with not 1, but 4 gifts [plus another 1 that arrived late & I got today]. There was a Coach clutch that he had no idea I've been wanting very badly because I hadn't told a soul about, a Coach bag that is so gorgeous I want to go everywhere wearing just the bag just to show it off, a gift card for a pedicure, & then this large gift which had a sign on it that said "Don't Touch". Attached to the large gift was a beautiful letter he had written me that I had to read before I could open my gift.
|This sat under the tree|
for a week, with a letter
attached to it addressed
to "My Love".
I read the letter & honestly it didn't make sense. Along with what I mean to him, he said he thought long & hard about what to get me for Christmas. He thought about what I would enjoy but then wanted to give me something I would need. He said that he knows I'm always running short & he's giving me some of his.
|...yet confusing letter.|
I had no idea what he was talking about. I was so confused. What could be in this huge, odd-shaped gift in front of me? I felt it & said, "It feels like a hamper!" Okay, he got me a hamper. I am always running short on those because of the sheer amount of laundry running through this house, but what in the world was he thinking? How was I going to pretend to be excited over a hamper?
|Wow, thank you, dear.|
I tore it open. It was a hamper. In fact, it was one of our hampers. I looked at him, not sure how to respond. It had something in it, & was taped shut. I couldn't tell what was inside. I thought, "Did he put his laundry in there? Is this a gag gift?"
He helped me get the tape off & together we reached inside to pull it out. As he handed it to me, I saw a really pretty bouquet of poinsettias, gold & red balls, & pine cones in a tin bucket. It was beautiful. Just as I was going to say that it was beautiful, I realized there were spoons inside this bouquet.
|"Oh, my gosh..."|
Hubby gave me a spoon bouquet.
Hubby had told Amazing Grace to take pictures of me opening it. Not knowing what it was that I was opening or the significance of it until it was explained after I'd had my time to look it all over, she took about 50 pictures from beginning to end. I'm very happy that she captured all the emotions from that moment.
|How did I get so lucky|
to get this guy?
|I can't believe you|
|Losing a battle with tears.|
|Rereading the letter & |
officially losing the Tear Battle.
He "got" it. That's all I've wanted, for my personal battle of counting spoons to be understood. He got it.
Each spoon in my bouquet of 30 has a different activity on it. I can turn in a spoon for hubby to do things for me when I've run out of my own spoons. There's even some spoons of the rather sexy variety that were not read out loud to the kids. I went through each one, reading what it said, alternating between tearing up & smiling over how hubby "got it". He sees how I put my family first, how I do everything for them that they could possibly need or want from me, draining myself until I am causing myself pain while trying to do the rest of life's necessities. He's seen it & he wants to do something about it.
I can borrow his spoons when I run out of my own & that's the best Christmas gift I could have ever received.