12 Spoons

I don’t recall if I’ve ever written about The Spoon Theory before, but even if I have it’s a good time to review and remind. Please be sure to open the link above to read the explanation of “spoons” and what it means to a person with chronic pain or a chronic illness. After you’ve read The Spoon Theory, come back here. Go on. I’ll wait.

Ok, now…. I’m not writing this in hopes of receiving sympathy. This is more of an infomercial or public service announcement, in hopes of helping people understand what it’s really like to live with chronic pain. People just don’t understand unless they’ve experienced it themselves. You see, when you have chronic pain – and it doesn’t matter if it’s pain caused by OA, RA, fibro, lupus or something else – it controls your life. It controls your every move, every activity. Your day is planned around and according to your pain level. Chronic pain means ongoing and never-ending PAIN.


Dad and I were going out for lunch yesterday. It’s our normal weekly outing and it’s exhausting so I have to plan the day carefully so not to get so tired. Some days, I start out with fewer spoons because I didn’t sleep well, or because my pain level is higher than normal.

I started with 12 spoons Saturday morning.

It took 2 spoons to get up, get dressed, brush my teeth and do hair and make-up. (Very little make-up in this flippin’ heat!)

10 spoons left.

I spent 1 spoon making sure the house was ready to be left alone. (Cats all accounted for, lights off, coffee pot off, back door locked, etc.) It takes a lot of energy to do little things like this when you have a chronic pain issue.

I now have 9 spoons left for the day.

The drive to Mountain Home, AR wasn’t that bad. It’s just 50 minutes, give or take, from our house. No spoons spent.

2 spoons spent at Hobby Lobby. Yarn is way in the back left of the store. They don’t have scooters and their wheelchairs are just too big and awkward. Walking is getting harder and harder every day. Standing in a line that should have been shorter if they had more than one cashier, was difficult. My legs were not happy.

7 spoons left.

2 spoons spent going to The Dollar Tree. Great aggravation set in due to the fact that I couldn’t get out of the car when I parked. The car to my left swooped in just after I did and was just a little too close for me to open the car door all the way. I tried to get out, but I just wasn’t able to. It wasn’t the other driver’s fault. They were parked within the lines but I had to find another parking spot. It was a little further away but that’s because so many businesses don’t put their disabled parking spots closer to the door. I can’t wrap my brain around that one! The store wasn’t too crowded, thankfully. I got what I needed quickly enough, but again, the walking…

5 spoons left.

Stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things. They have scooters so I spent 1 spoon walking from the car to store and finding the items I needed inside. Scooters make my life so much easier!

4 spoons left.

We stopped at El Chico, our favorite Mexican restaurant. I had a frozen alcoholic beverage and got about 3 brain freezes. We had a nice, relaxing meal. The food was delicious, as usual! I had 2 avocado enchiladas with rice and beans. I think I recharged enough to gain 2 spoons back!

6 spoons now! 

On the way out of town, we stopped at a liquor store and bought 2 huge bottles of Kahlua Mudslide. No spoons spent really. That was easy, especially after the recharge! The store was small and I knew exactly where to find what I wanted.

The drive home was easy; just simple conversation with Dad and my legs were able to rest for another 50 minutes.

2 spoons spent unloading the trunk when we got home.

Back to 4 spoons.

Subtract another spoon now for putting things away.

3 spoons.

Spent 1 spoon feeding the cats. I had other chores that should have been done but I saved them for the next day (today). I have to pick and choose what I do each day because I can’t do it all. If I try to do it all then I pay for it for a couple of days afterward.

2 spoons remaining for the rest of the evening.

Took about a 40-minute nap and gained a short recharge of about 1 spoon. Yay!

3 spoons again.

After washing my face and brushing my teeth, I was left with 2 spoons. Then getting my pajamas on, preparing the house for shut down (lights and tv off, coffee pot set, pills taken, my bed prepared, etc.) took the rest of those spoons and I barely made it to bed. I was exhausted. I go to bed every night in hopes that I get good restful sleep so that I can start my day with at least 12 spoons.

I slept fairly well with the help of the Mudslide, but it wasn’t restorative sleep. It never really is. I sleep for 45 minutes to an hour and wake up. The pain is so intense that I have to keep changing positions. That can be exhausting when you have chronic pain. I do the best I can to get comfortable and hope to fall back asleep quickly. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Some mornings I start with less than 12 spoons!


If you know someone who is suffering from chronic pain or any chronic illness, please try to understand their frustration of not being able to do the things that others do. If you see someone on a scooter and they ‘look’ like they are capable of walking, remember looks can be deceiving. Not all chronic illnesses or disabilities are visible. Perhaps the person CAN walk but is trying not to expend all their ‘spoons’ getting groceries because they still have to get those groceries loaded into the car, unloaded at home, and then put everything away.

You will never understand fully until it happens to you.

grayscale photo of wheelchair

Photo by Patrick De Boeck on Pexels.com