I love Christmas. I love the sparkling lights, the fragility of glass baubles, the ancient decorations that are older than me, the tradition of decorating the tree or in my case trees! I also like the moments of reflection – good or bad experiences that have come before, thinking how grateful I am for what I have, thinking about my family and fun times, and all the great memories Christmas invokes. I also now think of what I could do at this time of year prior to 6 years ago and what I can (or rather can’t) do now.
With this in mind I am going to introduce the spoon theory – read the link, it is a brilliant little story.
Most people have an infinite number of ‘spoons’ (energy for want of a better phrase or word) whereas those in chronic pain have a very limited amount – so limited that decisions have to be made between such things as taking a shower or just getting dressed because there is no energy to do both, or between walking to the kettle or going to the toilet. Each and every action throughout the day uses a spoon from the spoon drawer. As I say in people who are well this draw is constantly full, yeah there may be times when it is half empty (times when the person is temporarily poorly) but there are never times when it is empty like there are when you are in constant chronic pain.
My spoons today are all gone! All used up, the drawer is empty! You may ask what did this person do to use all their spoons in one day, in fact it is not even 1830 hours – there are still several hours left in the day for Christmas shopping, or going out with friends for Christmas drinks, or baking ready for Christmas.
I will tell you what I did I part decorated a Christmas tree and decorated a Garland on my fireplace. I did not clean the house – my husband did, I did not get the decorations out of the loft or carry them down stairs – my husband did, I did not assemble the tree – my husband did, I did not get lights out of their boxes – my husband did, I did not make my own breakfast lunch or tea – my husband did; I think you may be getting the picture – I didn’t even get dressed. Adding any of these tasks into my day would have taken away the energy, enjoyment and thrill I get of being creative with decorating the Christmas trees, most of which is done from sitting on a chair with my husband turning the tree so I can reach it all without exerting energy or causing pain by moving around! My husband, as you can imagine, is one of the most important people in my life and I am forever grateful for all that he does to help preserve my spoons so that I am able to enjoy life.
Spoons are my most valued commodity and even before a day is begun I am preparing in my mind what needs to be done and how many spoons I have to do it. Every year around this time I take off 2 days from work linked with a weekend just so that I have 4 days to decorate the house for Christmas, it’s not that I have a lot of stuff to put out, I used to decorate the house in an evening, it’s just I need the time to take regular rests whilst I am decorating trees and need at least one day to recover and gather my spoons again ready for work on Monday.
In previous years I have got frustrated, annoyed, fed up, even depressed at not being able to do as much as I would have done, however I feel this year I may have turned a corner – whether that be I am more accepting to the demands my body makes or that I have just learnt to pace myself better. I also feel more relaxed and … enabled. Wow (shakes head and smiles) I have turned a corner. By allowing my husband (who is utterly fantastic by the way) to help me more, and to also be more accepting of his help rather than resenting his help (strong word but feel it kind of fits), I have enabled myself to begin again to enjoy what became quite a chore over the last couple of years.
By Saturday evening my house is going to be beautifully decorated ready for Christmas, I am even going to try to schedule an hour with friends on Friday evening to go to the Christmas market (spoons permitting that is), I will enjoy relaxing with my husband and son on Sunday, and will have a partially filled spoon drawer when I return to work on Monday.
Life changes with chronic pain however I think I am starting to learn that it does not end!