The Gift of Spoons

Have you heard of the spoon theory? Soon after my diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis, I joined many online groups for support. I was confused when I read about people talking about spoons. In previous posts I have mentioned that I’m constantly calculating the cost of my day. Spoons is the analogy that those living with chronic illness use for energy, or the cost of each activity. Those of us living with chronic illness are known as Spoonies.


After learning about this analogy it made me feel a little less insane. Some things I do to save spoons:
– Load the dishwasher separating forks and spoons so if I’m unloading, I can grab a few and they go to the same area, rather than alternating between different types of utensils. This generally saves me a spoon.
– Meal plan depending on what is happening that day. If I have an appointment, followed by work, and have to pick up my daughter from school, it’s likely a take out day. (Every day could easily become a take out day.) I rarely have spoons left by the time I get home. Cooking costs 3-4 spoons. Eating can cost 1-2 spoons.
– Leave random things on the floor for a week because it costs a spoon to pick it up.
– Plan my appointments for certain times of day to avoid traffic. Sitting too long in the car can cost 2 or 3 spoons.
– Find a spot in the parking lot where I can pull through to the stall in front. This saves me the spoons associated with shoulder checking if I have to reverse out when leaving.
– Plan my week down to the minute because I’m constantly calculating my spoons. It’s not just about the current day because if I use too many spoons on one day, I have to compensate the following day.

My husband, Brian, often says he wishes he could give me more spoons, which I think is so sweet. I wish I could have more spoons, or that basic things like showering would cost less spoons. The analogy of spoons has made it easier to communicate with Brian because I can say, “That’s going to cost a spoon,” or tell him exactly how many spoons something will cost me. Of course there are days where I have yelled out, “I HAVE NO SPOONS LEFT FOR THIS!”

Two weeks ago, Brian walked through the door with a bouquet of flowers and a small package neatly wrapped. His love language is giving gifts. He is constantly spoiling the girls and I. Sometimes I feel like I can’t even talk around him because if I mention a new item, or something I like, he’s likely to buy it for me.

The note on the card read, “One for home, and one for on the go.” I had no idea what it could be. A pen? A notebook? Candy? I carefully untied the ribbon. The tissue paper crinkled as I tore the tape off. Removing the paper revealed two spoons in my hands. One, a regular teaspoon size inscribed with, “Hope anchors the soul.” The other, a small spoon on a keychain that I can take with me, giving me an extra spoon when I need it during my day.

This gift of spoons left me in tears.

My husband heard me. He understood me. He held space for this Spoonie and gave me just enough spoons for me to shed happy tears and make it to the end of my day.

Our five-year-old was very intrigued by the inscribed spoon. This morning I asked her if she would like know why the spoon is so special to me. I grabbed all the spoons from the kitchen and explained the spoon theory to her, subtracting spoons for my morning routine, getting breakfast ready for us, going to work, showering, cooking, and so on. When I had one spoon left in my hand I asked, “How should I use my last spoon?”
“Read a story to me?” I agreed as that is how we end the day together. I let her know that since I have no spoons left, I’d be very tired, and sometimes this makes me frustrated, or not very patient. She then grabbed the inscribed spoon, gave it a kiss, then handed it to me, and came in for a hug.

Tears quickly rose to my eyes as I embraced my daughter in the kitchen. Her compassion and empathy always amazes me. I let her know that her love gives me more spoons, and her help during the day helps me keep my limited spoons.

If you were only given 12 spoons for the day, how would you use them? Blogging is always worth the spoon count. I love connecting with each of you here, on Facebook, and on Instagram. Thank you for continuing to journey with me. Your messages and encouragement add to my spoon count.