It’s Day 20 of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Recovery from surgery is a funny thing. One the one hand, I have Wolverine-like powers in terms of physical healing. Most of the time. Except for those days when I’m in a funk. Those days when it’s hard to get out of bed, but I can’t sleep. Or I start falling asleep at my desk and get into bed, but can’t go to sleep there. When I’m excited to do something and then, when it’s time, find myself too fatigued mentally and/or physically to do the thing.
Which makes me sadder. And more fatigued. And it’s harder to get up the next time until and unless I force myself. But I pay for that with interest.
Fatigue, physical, mental, or the horrible double whammy of both at the same time, really and truly sucks donkey balls.
Spoon Theory is a metaphor for illness – originally chronic illness in the form of lupus and then expanded to include mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. It holds that healthy people have an unlimited amount of spoons, or possibilities, or energy—a form of currency—to accomplish their daily tasks with plenty left over for fun. With chronic illness or mental illness, your currency is limited. You don’t have as many spoons. So you have to budget. And you many only have enough spoons one day to shower. Or maybe you can shower and go to work, but you don’t have enough spoons to come home and make dinner or go out with friends.
Some days, you don’t have enough spoons to get out of bed.
Christine Miserandino, who came up with this brilliant analogy, explains it much better and you should totally grab a copy of But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and Other Superheroes Battling Invisible Illness to learn more, but that’s where I’ve been for the past several days. I have a friend who has fibromyalgia and other friends who have chronic illnesses who deal with this more than I do, though they still consider me a “Spoonie.” One of those friends once looked at me a few years after my 3rd or 4th cancer surgery and told me I was running myself ragged and was in danger of collecting another chronic illness and, as a result, losing more of my daily ration of spoons.
That hit me HARD. I was and still am a doer, a mover, a shaker. I walk fast. I’m always busy. I get shit done.
I still can, but not at the expense of my precious spoons. So, for the past two days, I’ve spent a lot of time in bed (going to bed early, napping, resting my eyes on the couch) and struggling to not beat myself up for it. It’s okay. Things will get done eventually. The important things. When I have more spoons.
So, dear readers, don’t beat yourselves up. Save yourselves. And your spoons. You’re worth it.