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Living with MS and a Limited Number of Spoons

December 15, 2017

Living with multiple sclerosis, or any chronic illness for that matter, is tremendously mentally and physically draining. Some members of the chronic illness community choose to refer to themselves as “spoonies”, which is a way of defining the amount of energy one’s condition has allotted them for the day. A person wakes up and measures their energy levels in “spoons” whereas healthy individuals wake up in the morning with an unlimited number of spoons.

Christine Miserandino, an award-winning writer and lupus patient advocate, created the theory in an attempt to explain to her friend, a healthy individual, how much planning, time and energy is consumed by having a chronic illness.

Waking up in the morning and getting yourself out of bed? There goes your first spoon for the day. Getting dressed, then eating breakfast? Another two spoons. Showering? Shaving? Even more morning spoons!

Getting out of the door in the morning before even heading out to work or running simple errands already uses up a good amount of your daily spoons. Imagine having to carry on the whole day diligently planning how you will conduct simple tasks without using up a lot of energy? For some of us, it is hard to imagine having to plan our each and every move. For others with chronic illnesses, it is simply a way of life.

This is why it is so difficult for those with MS to make plans days ahead of time, they never know what kind of day they will be having or how many spoons they will start the day out with. They may have to use up their spoons earlier in the day than planned, and simply do not have enough energy to carry on with other tasks or activities. It is not that they are lazy, unmotivated or anti-social; they are completely out of energy for the day.

This is why those with MS must change their lifestyle and adjust to one that is more flexible and forgiving. Living life with a finite number of spoons is a difficult way to live, but not impossible.