The Spoon Theory and the impact of travelling on Sara.

I first read about “The Spoon Theory” years ago never imagining that one day I would be directly involved in helping someone navigate how to manage their daily “spoon” allotment. But here I am, and our recent family vacation made me aware that Sara, while she has healed beyond what we could have imagined, is still a person who struggles with Chronic Illness.

First, allow me to explain “The Spoon Theory.”

It came about when Christine Miserandino (who has Lupus) and a friend went out for lunch, and the friend asked what it was like to be so sick. Desperate to explain it in a way that she could understand Christine grabbed a bunch of spoons from the surrounding tables and handed them over and said: “Here you go, you have Lupus.”

She explained to the friend that when you are healthy, you expect to have a never-ending supply of spoons, but when you are sick you know that you have a limited amount of spoons and that you have to use them wisely to ensure you that you can meet the demands of your day before they are all gone.

She asked the friend to list the tasks of her day and as she rattled them off Christine began to remove spoons. Before she had even left for work, she had lost six spoons. Christine explained how she now needed to spend the rest of the spoons wisely because when they are gone – they are GONE. She explained that you could borrow from the next day’s spoons, but that she needed to be aware of how difficult the next day would be with fewer spoons to get you through the day. Also how people who have chronic illness have to conserve spoons and not allow themselves to run low on spoons because a simple cold or unexpected stress could pop up and deplete your all your spoons.

How simply skipping a meal, staying up late, or having to stand for an extended period to catch a train home can rob you of spoons. How sometimes at the end of the day you have only one spoon left, and you have to decide between cooking a meal, doing some chores, or going out with friends for fun.

All this to say that while Sara has seemed to reach a level of “health” that allows her to function “typically” in her day to day life, but the demands of travel highlighted that she is not fully recovered – yet.

The early morning wake ups, as we hopped from place to place, the busy days, late nights and change in routine had a bigger impact on her than it did the rest of us, and at one point I just tucked her away for 24 hours to “rest and recover.”

The good news is she had a blast! She bounced back from the mini “time-out” and our remaining days were not impacted! It was by far one of our best vacations ever, and we made memories that will last a lifetime!

And the best part…Sara continues to mature and take responsibility for her health. Before this trip, Sara had made plans to go away for a week with one of her friends and their family at the end of August. Mid-trip she made the tough decision to cancel those plans realizing that going away may have a negative impact on her ability to start High School the following week.

She prioritized school over fun and is learning how to spend her “spoons” wisely, so, all in all, it was a good thing!




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