These are my personal Top 25 Spoonie Hacks! For those of you who do not know what a ‘spoon’ means should look into ‘Spoon Theory’. Generally, it’s like a recipe, but spoons are symbolizing energy. Do you have enough spoons for the activity you’re thinking of doing? Chronic illness minimizes the amount of spoons you can have on a day, though some days you will have more spoons than normal, or less. It’s all about balancing your use of them.
- Always allow yourself room for mistakes or inability.
- I like to find three things that I really want to accomplish in a day. And I make sure those things are not broad or wide, because that can get overwhelming rapidly. But rather, I find three important specific things. For example today my list was: Make a post on Clinically Okay, Do a load of laundry, and spend some time training with my puppy.
- Showers can be hard, especially if you have POTS, since the warm water can trigger a collapse, so I sit while showering, and have arranged all my soaps and things to be reachable from the ground.
- Bring a stool into the kitchen if you need to cook for long periods of time, doing the dishes, or cleaning the fridge.
- Make sure your kitchen and/or pantry is always stocked with easy foods, for the days where cooking is too hard, or you’re too sick to your stomach to eat any complicated foods. I usually have instant oatmeal, applesauce, and yogurt with granola.
- Make sure you have something you can do if you are restrained to the couch or bed for the day. I crochet and write and draw.
- Alarms! It’s always so easy to miss medication times when having a bad day, but the day will only get worse if you do. You should make sure that the alarms are snoozable, or have multiple alarms set up in sequence, since following specific time restraints while in pain is often challenging.
- I have in reaching distance from my bed, most everything my body will actively need, for those days where I wake up with a migraine, or my joints are killing me. It’s an emergency stash.
- Take naps! Don’t be afraid of naps. Don’t push yourself further into exhaustion, this will only make it even harder to accomplish things. Naps don’t put you behind, they allow yourself to be more productive in the future.
- I often forget what I’m doing or what I need to do. I have just recently come into borrowed possession of one of those fancy voice recorders that journalists use. I use it to keep track of my ideas, but also what I need to do, or reminders of what I was thinking about an hour before. Then I just carry it around with me and check every so often.
- Comfy and presentable clothing, so when you go out, you can look presentable and be comfortable. I have nice thermal leggings and tunic dresses/shirts that I can wear. Great for lounging and grocery shopping.
- Avoid coffee, caffeine, and alcohol. This one can vary person to person, since sometimes caffeine or something can help minimize symptoms, but for me they do nothing but irritate my already present symptoms.
- This one is specifically aimed at POTS patients. We are supposed to increase our salt consumption and drink lots of liquids. So I almost always have tortilla chips on hand. I snack on them frequently, and they’re easy on the stomach. I also drink a lot of powerade zero, since the sodium percentage in those drinks is incredibly high, and I love them.
- Varying degrees of light in my room. For days when I have sensitivity to light, or auras, or full blown migraines. I have my ceiling light, then a lamp by my bed, then two strings of leaf lights around the frame of my bed. All are different intensities of light, and I use all three of the options very frequently.
- Sunglasses you can easily wear in the house. For the days where the rest of the family is in the house, and you can’t freely just turn off all the lights. I have several different pairs of sunglasses for both light intensity and comfort.
- If you have a room, most likely the bathroom, that has bright bulb lights above the mirrors, you can slightly unscrew most of them, so you only have one lightbulb lighting the room. Makes taking relaxing baths far more enjoyable.
- Preventative medicines kept in bags for outings. Many people do this, but for those who are new to this world, you should always carry medicines around with you that can help prevent migraines or nauseau. It will not only help in emergencies but also will make you more comfortable leaving the house.
- Discuss with professors or colleagues beforehand, so they will know what to do or expect when you’re feeling unwell or incapable. I talked to my professors at the beginning of my last semester, and was able to avoid point reductions for ‘participation’. Saved my GPA.
- I struggle to sleep many days because of pain, restlessness, or straight up insomnia. Several of my pm drugs make me drowsy, but I also take melatonin alongside them. I also use two dfferent types of melatonin, one aimed at short term and one for long term. So I can fall asleep and stay asleep.
- I have difficulty with my joints and muscles. Everytime I sit down for a long time, moving to stand or walk is very painful. So what I do before standing is shift into several different sitting positions within just a few minutes, which opens up my joints to movement better. When I do this I don’t have to limp as harshly to get to the stairs.
- I have a puppy that I adore, but she can also wear me down rapidly. She just has far more energy for me, so for her afternoon walk, we just go out to the backyard. But walking around for me can be painful, so what I now do is tie a rope to her vest and tie the other end around my ankle or waist. This way I can sit in the middle of the yard and Ruby has full range of it.
- For anyone who has had a migraine, you know how painful they can be. I get bad migraines with agonizing pain ibehind one of my eyes and puking and loss of consciousness and so on. One thing I’ve found that really helps, is drinking a slush. It’s both easy to stomach, and holding the cold liquid/ice to the roof of your mouth helps alleviate the pain of the head ache. It helps the veins move more smoothly, allowing for a brief respite from pain.
- Leave a fluffy towel or blanket in bathroom and a pillow in the car. I like this one because I often start feeling really bad really fast. So the pillow in the car is so that I can lay down and close my eyes, so the light and movement of the scenery around us doesn’t leave me slumped in pain. The blanket in the bathroom is because I suffer from migraines and often end up laying on the ground of the bathroom for hours at a time through the pain and puking. Makes the painful hours on the floor more comfortable.
- My medications, migraines, and lack of appetite make me very mauseaus. So while I was still in university classes, I started carrying around a bright orange bucket from the dollar tree. I stored ice packs and powerade in it, but it was my puke bucket. Before I had the bucket I would spend entire classes being paranoid that I would get sick, and planning all the ways I could run to the bathroom to puke. But the bucket gave me the comfort, that no matter what happened, I wouldn’t puke on my neighbour’s shoes or on my homework. I also carried it around my apartment, because I got tired of constantly recleaning small trashcans.
- Record your symptoms and pain and thoughts throughout the days. I don’t generally do this for myself, but I’ve done so for both my therapy and physical health. It helps my doctors, of whatever sort, to better help me by identifying patterns or severity of thoughts or symptoms.
Many of these ideas are specific to my afflictions and problems, but I think that many of them are also universal across chronic illness. Hopefully one of my ideas can help you or give you a platform from which you can find your own coping mechanisms.
Remember to count your spoons. Hope you are happy and healthy.
Stay Strong Spoonies!