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Managing my Spoons

This week has been an exercise in managing my spoons. And I still have a few days to go.

What do I mean? Those of us with chronic illness are often known as "spoonies", based on an illustration by Christine Miserando. You should really check out the link and read it for yourself, but, basically, she uses spoons as a measure of how much energy a disabled person has available to them in a given day. We may not look sick, but our illness often limits how much we can do. What used up my spoons this week?

1. Bathroom remodel. I was waiting for the builders to be done with the remodeling of our bathroom. Our one full bathroom was in desperate need of remodeling. The sink didn't match the other fixtures; the wall near the tub was moldy; the grout around the tub was black with mold. We had made arrangements to start in February, but the contractor couldn't start until the end of March. And, when they got into demolition, things were a little worse than expected - and they had expected them to be bad. That added time and expense. Finally, this week, they got in the toilet and sink as well as the new cabinet. We wouldn't have to keep the towels in a shelf unit in the front hallway!

2. Cleaning frenzy. The bathroom remodel had left a lot of dust all around and the schedule for the weekend was busy, so I did a fair bit of cleaning. I vacuumed upstairs and downstairs, cleaned up the extra bedroom, cleaned the half bathroom, and did laundry. I may have used a few too many spoons.

3. Outpatient surgery. On Thursday, I was scheduled to have an endometrial ablation, an outpatient surgery in which the lining of my uterus is destroyed to keep me from having periods because I have such painful periods. I had to not eat or drink anything after midnight on Wednesday. Unfortunately, not eating or drinking is a migraine trigger. And, we had bad weather coming in and I was a mite stressed. I had to be at the hospital by 11:45am, but by 10am, I had a full-blown migraine. We prayed and we asked all of our friends to pray. Having a migraine on the day of surgery was not good.

We showed up early to the hospital where we were met by the smiling face of one of our friends from church. She called into the surgery center and they got me back early where anesthesia got me extra fluids and treated my migraine. After that, everything went according to plan. We were on our way home by 3pm and stopped to get DQ Blizzards, which are just as important as pain medications!! It all worked out well, but I think I should have been more careful with my spoons on Tuesday and Wednesday.

4. Our exchange student came to visit!! On Friday, our exchange student from last spring, Ashley, arrived from New Jersey for a visit!! She'll be here until Wednesday. Christopher and Jenna, his girlfriend, came over after work. Jenna and Ashley made dyed and glittered Easter Eggs!

We were going to have a party for Ashley until my surgery got scheduled for Thursday. Instead, another family is going to host the party, which makes my life much easier! Paying attention to those spoons!!

5. Tomorrow is Easter!! It's the biggest celebration in the Christian calendar!! Jesus rose from the dead!! Our sins are forgiven! We are new creatures! We're excited about celebrating that with our friends and family at church.

6. Easter Dinner. Easter is usually a big family dinner. This year, I've scaled back a bit. Instead of making ham or roast or lamb, we are having lasagna. Several weeks ago, I made three pans of lasagna - one for us that week, one for a friend who had just had a baby, and another for Easter. It's not very traditional, but I knew I didn't want to cook this weekend. And, we're having some of "my girls" over, one of whom is vegetarian, so Lydia is making some spinach pie. And I'm going to let the rest of the family put dinner on the table and save my spoons for traveling.

7. Going to Georgia. And, then it's an early bedtime for me. The big stressor for me the last couple of weeks has been that my mom has to have back surgery. I thought it was going to happen in March, but her doctor wanted to try conservative therapy. That hasn't helped, so she's having surgery on Tuesday in Atlanta. That means that I leave here early on Monday morning to fly to Atlanta. I really need to save up some spoons to be ready to travel with as little headache as I have control over.

Mom is the caregiver for Dad (who has mild dementia and doesn't drive anymore) and Aunt Chris (who is 94). I'll be taking care of all three of them - making sure they are taken care of, driving them where they need to go, shopping, cooking, etc. Dad and Aunt Chris can fend for themselves when they need to and my brother and his family live close by, so the world won't end when I have a migraine, but I still want to be around while Mom is recovering.

When I come home in three weeks, I think I'll sleep. For a really long time!

This is the craziness that is going on around here. You'd think I'd be expert at managing my spoons by now, but I still need help sometimes. (And I don't ever want to have surgery again!)

What are your thoughts? If you are a spoonie, what are some of your tricks to manage your energy and/or pain?


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