We all have experienced the struggles of math. Unless you are a mathematician, you probably are not the biggest fan of the subject. I am sure you can recall a time in your life where you got a headache from spending too much time trying to understand math homework. It’s the absolute worst- right? Well, imagine trying to calculate your entire life. Pain in the ass- I know. But that doesn’t even begin to describe my struggles.
When I was first diagnosed with CRPS, I talked a lot about what I can do to help the pain. I was going to physical and occupational therapy and I was on medicine. Lots and lots of medicine. It was pretty early on that I started to try to figure out ways to help myself. I knew that leaving school early would cause the pain to slow the increase throughout the day. I quickly made the connection that the more I did, the worse the pain got. This connection that my mind, body, and soul made was one of the most damaging realization I could have. But CRPS fighters actually don’t mind this connection. They even named it by using spoons.
The Spoon Theory
There is a theory among people with chronic pain that explains to those who don’t suffer invisibly how we need to live our lives. But we also use it to better understand ourselves. So, let me explain:
Imagine you have 12 spoons a day. Those spoons represent the amount of energy and function someone has in their life. Now picture that waking up and getting ready uses 2 spoons. By the time you are leaving for work or school, you are only running on 10 spoons. As the day goes on, you continue losing spoons. Eating-1 spoon. Working on assignments/projects-4 spoons. Having a catch up date with an old friend-2 spoons. Doing daily chores-3 spoons. Oh shit. Wait a second. We’ve run out of spoons…….Now this means all the rest of daily life tasks: showering, eating dinner, changing, brushing teeth/getting ready for bed, etc etc cannot be complete because we have no spoons left. Our body physically has no spoons. Still confused? Look below:
Now, that theory used to click so well with me. I used to tell my family all the time that I can’t do one activity because I HAVE to do another one in a little. It was this constant calculation game of playing God and trying the beat CRPS. Let me tell you something. CRPS is too freakin strong for that. It will only take more.
It is so controversial for me to go against one of the key ways to help people with CRPS or chronic pain understand how their new life is. Like I said, I agreed with it too. I defended that theory to the ends of the earth, until something clicked. I realized that the theory is bullshit. Who’s to say how many spoons we get? And what type of life is there to live if we are just spending time deciding what is worth our “spoon”. I have quite the secret for you. You will never figure it out. I’m not trying to be a pessimist here, but I am a very blunt person (literally ask anyone). There is no theory that helps you know what you should and shouldn’t do in your life. You can’t spend every day prepping for the next day because you know what? Pretty soon 5 years are going to pass and you will realize all you missed out on were things that weren’t worth a spoon.
We all have risks we need to take in life. Maybe for you one day it is deciding whether or not to cheat on your diet. Then another day its taking that job across country where you know no-one . These type of risks are taken by CRPS fighters- just more often. Maybe our risk is that we do a trip with friends for a day or go to the movies later at night. Who the hell cares how little or big your risks are. The pain needs to stop controlling your life and you need to grab it by the flaming (never mind) and do the things you want out of life. So, to help you all understand- I’ve done my own Spoon Theory creation. Think of it as Spoon Theory Elites.
Spoon Theory: Elites
Imagine you start out with 15 spoons (I think 12 is way too small of a number because we are badasses). You wake up and get ready- 2 spoons. You then go to the gym- 5 spoons. BUT here is where my theory changes. When you finish at the gym, you come home and read or chill on your phone. That gives you back 3 spoons. So, in this hypothetical situation, you are only down 4 spoons and have already gotten ready and gone to the gym. This continues throughout your day. When you put in enough breaks, you will be able to go to sleep with extra spoons. Some days, those extra spoons can carry over to the next day. Other times you have a rough night and end up losing those extra spoons. But guess what?!?! Who the hell cares, you have plenty of spoons for your day!
See after years of having a chronic pain disease, I realized something. I was completely wrong in thinking I could figure out CRPS like a puzzle. The truth is, it’s extremely complicated and changes every day. There is no possible way for me to figure out the equation that can prevent the horrific pain and suffering. Some days I would get so frustrated because I would do the same amount of activity as another day and yet have significantly more pain. You know how I always solved those bad days? I decided that the next day I would do a little less. By the time 5 years went by I was stressed, always thinking, and left with not much I can do (according to my calculations of course). The comment of “I can’t do that because I have to prep for something I MIGHT be doing tomorrow” doesn’t work anymore. I can’t waste parts of life.
Are you always going to live according to a false calculation? What happens if the value of x is always changing? How the hell do you do the math then? You can’t. Life isn’t a puzzle that can be solved. It’s not meant to be solved. That’s the beauty of it. I know how hard it is to live not according to the pain and what you calculate. It probably seems impossible right now. But just do one thing for me. Tomorrow- decide to do that one thing you wanted but feel like you can’t because you will “run out of spoons” or “need to prep for something the following day”. Let me tell you, it will be one of the most empowering things. Taking control back from CRPS? I haven’t met a person let alone a fighter deny the offer. So do it- throw away the drawing board and calculator. Oh and also- give CRPS the middle finger for me.