So, I’ve always been a fan of the spoon theory of explaining chronic illness. I was thinking today and decided thinking of energy expenditure in terms of money makes more sense (to me anyway).
Hopefully I don’t lose you with this analogy. I’m feeling kind of foggy so please forgive me and ask questions if I do!
It’s like this. Let’s say your average person gets $30.00 dollars a day to use toward activities. As someone with a chronic illness, I automatically start the day with $20.00 taken off, leaving me $10.00.
I picture an arcade, only instead of skee ball or whack-a-mole, each station is an activity of daily living such as taking a shower, going out to eat with friends, playing with your child, cleaning the bathroom, etc… Each activity, even something as small as grooming, costs money.
Someone without a chronic illness walks in this “arcade” and easily gets through their morning routine and work day with plenty of energy (money) left over. After work, they can go to all of the fun “games” like going out for drinks or visiting friends. Someone with a chronic illness, needs to carefully think how they want to spend their money. There is no way they’ll be able to do everything they want without going into debt. There is also no guarantee that a pick pocket (weird, random symptoms) won’t walk by without warning and take some of their money away. So even the best planning is meaningless because with chronic illness, you can never really plan.
So, I get up out of bed, that will probably cost a quarter. I get my large glass of tomato juice and my 2 glasses of water ready, I line up my bills on the coffee table. I heat myself up some oatmeal. I forgot to put on my stockings before I got out of bed, so the blood is pooled up in my legs which makes my body start freaking out. All that, costs me a dollar. So here I am, my day barely started, and I only have $8.75 left. The medication is kind of like insurance. It doesn’t gain me any money, but it can keep symptoms (that evil pick pocket) from appearing.
I decide I want to surprise Jake and go grocery shopping so he’ll have his favorite food to eat before he goes to work. This “game” in the arcade is rewarding because I love being able to do something for Jake, but also costly. This requires dressing and some grooming. This costs another $1.25, especially since it involves a lot of standing. I drive to the store, get out of the car, and get in my nifty motor cart. I get my items, check out, and transfer all my bags to a regular cart to take out to the car. It takes me more energy to do this than it would a “normal” person. It costs $4.00. I now have $3.50 left. I get to the apartment building and lug the groceries up the stairs – 50 cents. I put the groceries away – 25 cents So in all, a trip to the grocery store costs someone with a chronic illness 6.00, or 60% of their daily allotment of energy.
I need to exercise as it is the only form of treatment available for POTS. This costs at least $4.00, but all I have left is $2.75. If I do the exercise plan correctly, it costs $6.00 because of the poor state my body is in.
I have only been awake for 4 hours. If I choose to be my treatment plan, I will be in debt from using energy I don’t have. I could choose to use Adderall. It is kind of like a credit card. It gives me energy (money), but it isn’t real energy, and I WILL pay back dearly for using it.
Option One: I decide to do the easiest version of exercise I can do while still having it count. I am -$1.25 before Jake even wakes up for work. (He works nights by the way ) I will start the next day with only $8.75. Probably even less because going to sleep “in debt” takes energy. Kind of like how debt tends to build interest, using more energy than I have ends up making my body use even MORE energy. It is trying to fix all the problems I have caused by overdoing it. It will probably be days, and even weeks, before my body gets back to starting the day with a full $10.00. The annoying thing about chronic illness, is even if I don’t spend all my money for the day (this almost never ever happens), it doesn’t carry over to the next day.
Option Two: I decide to save my $1.25 so I can be alert for the hour I get to see Jake before he leaves for work. Or maybe something will come up and that $1.25 will come in handy. This means, I’ll just lay flat until I decide an activity is worth my quarters . It also means I will have skipped my exercise and have to do it on one of the days I had planned to have a day off from exercise.
Each day must be carefully planned so I don’t go over budget in the arcade of life…Some days, I skip stuff like grooming (except for brushing my teeth), because I want to have energy for more important things. It is hard to believe I am the same girl who wouldn’t leave the house without her make up as a teenager! I even wore make up canoeing . Now, I realize how I look to the patrons of Walmart isn’t all that important in the grand scheme of things. Another thing I skip is eating because digesting food takes a lot of energy for me. When you eat, blood goes to your stomach to aid in digestion. As someone already having issues with blood getting around their body and to their brain, holding off on eating can help me get through a task. Don’t worry family — I eventually eat! I just eat a large meal after running to the store rather than eating a small meal before and after.
In other news, I am working to create more pages under the tabs at the top of the page. I also am planning to start writing posts applying psychology theories to chronic illness. I am feeling in much better spirits than I was a few days ago. This is because my parents bought Jake and I a little getaway for Christmas. It was wonderful and just what I needed!