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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Fibromyalgia Explained - Spoons Theory

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Have you ever heard of someone being called a Spoonie? Maybe not, but is an affectionate term for people with fibromyalgia and other chronic fatigue conditions.

Spoons theory comes from someone who wrote about it in 2003, to explain to someone what its like to be totally wiped out with a diagnosed condition of chronic fatigue, and to explain why and here we will share this with you.
Think of the cutlery draw of teaspoons being the energy you have available, you have so many teaspoons and if you don't wash them up then there are none left and you run out. Now you could use a dessert spoon as an alternative but that would eat into your spoon availability for other things.

So for an example, let's say you have 25 spoons, how would you spend them during the day, let's look at a typical day, without leaving the house? We are just using the 25 as an example, but over time the spoons get less that are available as the condition progresses or each day you try and spend more spoons than you have.
Fibromyalgia is usually 12 spoons only.
Get up out of bed - 1 spoon.
Taking a shower - 2 spoons.
Washing hair and styling it - 2 spoons.
Brushing teeth - 1 spoon.
Getting dressed - 1 spoon.
Making breakfast - 3 spoons.
Eating breakfast - 1 spoon.
Take medication - 1 spoon.
Light housework - 3 spoons.
Watch TV - 1 spoon.
Making lunch - 3 spoons.
Eating lunch - 1 spoon.
Washing dishes - 2 spoons.
Taking or making a phone call - 3 spoons.
Making tea - 3 spoons.
Washing dishes - 2 spoons.
Getting undressed - 1 spoon.
Getting into bed - 1 spoon.
Reading - 2 spoons.
34 spoons then but you only have 25 and that's without going shopping, etc. It is all about pacing yourself and yes that might be just 2 meals a day, or it might be one meal and a snack. It could be that you stay in the PJs and skip the shower and/or washing the hair. It's not being dirty, but necessary to cope with a condition that many cannot understand.
Pacing has been so important as if you regularly overspend your spoons, it will impact on the next few days and if you do it every day then you will find the spoons reduce considerable.
There is always someone who says that they are "so tired today", but with fibromyalgia, it's body, mind and soul that is tired all the time. A reminder that there is no cure or treatment for fibromyalgia. "All you need is a good night's sleep" is all well and good, but if you don't get into a deep sleep, it's not refreshing and is the reason why many with fibromyalgia wake up groggy and feel like they have been awake all night and why that first spoon counts of just getting up and that last one when you drag yourself to bed.

This is the second blog about fibromyalgia and more of these to come covering other elements and advice about this horrendous condition.

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