With Cushing’s, I must plan my day according to the spoon theory

Time and energy management is challenging with chronic illness

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by Noura Costany |

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People with chronic illnesses live differently than those without them. This was a hard reality for me to grasp. I wanted my life to stay the same as it was before I found out I had Cushing’s disease.

As frustrating as it may be, that’s really not an option. Even if I pretend I’m not exhausted or don’t need support, I still must take 10 pills a day, receive a weekly shot, attend a monthly doctor appointment, and have bloodwork done every three months and scans every six months.

My life is different from my peers. It’s not less or more, just different.

One of the ways I explain this is with the spoon theory. The spoon theory posits that different tasks require a certain amount of energy, which is referred to as “spoons.” If I start my day with 10 spoons, for example, and someone without a chronic illness starts their day with an equal number, you might think that our days would be relatively equal. However, it takes me two spoons to shower, while it might require a healthy person to use only half a spoon. Making dinner requires three spoons for me, but it might take others only one.

I use the spoon theory all the time to explain to friends and family what I’m capable of handling on a given day.

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We can break this down by time, too. Yesterday, for example, I took a four-hour nap. I was completely wiped out, and my body hurt. I slept eight hours the previous night. This means I had about 12 hours left in my day. Between work, pain management, and making sure I eat meals and drink water, time goes by quickly.

When I finally finish all of that, I want to go out with friends and work on my novel. Unfortunately, the day is finished and I’m out of spoons.

Living life to its fullest

None of this is to say that I’m not living life to its fullest. I just have to plan it out a little better than others. I can’t be spontaneous. I invite friends to come to my apartment. I automate everything I can.

Sometimes I grow frustrated because it feels like my friends have more hours in the day than I do. I was recently shocked to learn that a friend had not one plan for a particular Saturday, but three! I can’t imagine being able to do that.

Still, there are many positives about the way I live. I don’t ever do things I don’t want to do. I dearly love all of the people in my life because I don’t have time for unfulfilling relationships. I always choose the path that will make me the happiest. Being sick has helped me to prioritize things.

I may not have as many spoons as other people, but I do have a beautiful life that I’m proud of.

Do you use the spoon theory? If so, please share in the comments below. You can also follow my journey on TikTok and YouTube.

Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.


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