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Author Topic: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)  (Read 753 times)

PerditaPickle

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Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« on: January 17, 2019, 05:44:20 pm »
What's the single most useful coping mechanism you've found, to date, for spoon wrangling issues?

If different things have worked for you at different times, what were they and what were the factors that made them cease to be useful/that made something else more useful?

Are there any alternative therapies you've found helpful in tandem - particular essential oils, crystals etc?

(By 'spoon wrangling' I guess mean: making the most of your limited spoon supply, I guess; or being the most effective whilst the spoon supply holds out/without depleting spoon levels altogether.  I'm not being very articulate I suppose, but I imagine one or two of you will probably be able to see what I'm getting at...)

I'm suffering a high level of fatigue once again at the moment and looking for ideas how I might alleviate it, or at least keep functioning and keep holding down my job whilst I ride it out.

Thanks for any replies - I don't mind PMs if you'd rather not respond publicly.  And I'll understand if people feel they can't reply.
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EclecticWheel

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Re: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2019, 11:42:36 pm »
What's the single most useful coping mechanism you've found, to date, for spoon wrangling issues?

If different things have worked for you at different times, what were they and what were the factors that made them cease to be useful/that made something else more useful?

Are there any alternative therapies you've found helpful in tandem - particular essential oils, crystals etc?

(By 'spoon wrangling' I guess mean: making the most of your limited spoon supply, I guess; or being the most effective whilst the spoon supply holds out/without depleting spoon levels altogether.  I'm not being very articulate I suppose, but I imagine one or two of you will probably be able to see what I'm getting at...)

I'm suffering a high level of fatigue once again at the moment and looking for ideas how I might alleviate it, or at least keep functioning and keep holding down my job whilst I ride it out.

Thanks for any replies - I don't mind PMs if you'd rather not respond publicly.  And I'll understand if people feel they can't reply.

I have a difficult time with metaphors outside of religious and literary contexts and slang, too, for that matter.

I do not understand your metaphor about spoons.  Can you clarify?
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Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Jenett

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Re: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2019, 06:04:37 am »
I have a difficult time with metaphors outside of religious and literary contexts and slang, too, for that matter.

I do not understand your metaphor about spoons.  Can you clarify?

This is a widely used term among folks with chronic health issues (and it's worth noting that we're in the Chavi Memorial Chronic Illness SIG here, where it's especially widely used). It's explained in our Inclusivity FAQ.

Quote
“Spoons” is a jargon term for the ability to act and get things done in the context of a chronic illness.  It is reasonable for abled people to assume that getting some things done is basically trivial, and does not require budgeting.

People with disabilities tend to have to evaluate what they are able to do much more closely, so as not to go “over budget” and become incapable of doing anything.  Other people have also adopted the metaphor for managing dealing with hostile environments (sometimes choosing other silverware drawer items, such as forks, so as not to steal the “spoons” meaning from chronic illness sufferers).

The original essay that created the jargon term is titled The Spoon Theory.


To keep this thread useful, can you take any other questions about the term to another thread?

(Pickle, I have some thoughts about the actual question, but I'm letting them gel.)
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Jenett

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Re: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2019, 01:32:47 pm »
What's the single most useful coping mechanism you've found, to date, for spoon wrangling issues?

Single most useful principle: be ruthless about what actually needs to get done, and whether I need to be the person to do it.

Single most useful thing I've done: regular house cleaning service. (I've usually done monthly, which works fine for me as single person, more below.)

Some practical applications that work for me (take what's useful to you, ignore the rest, a lot of my stuff is extra-quirky, so I'm going to explain why the thing, in case a piece of it's handy. Pardon the length. Feel free - you or anyone else - to ask about any of this.)

0) Be really clear about my priorities
I need to work (no other source of income) plus I also actually really do love my job. I need to maintain a basic level of home function (food, things clean enough to be safe/not cause me allergy issues). I need to feed and clean up after the cat. Basically everything else is optional.

This means I see my friends a lot less (in person) than any of us would probably like, but my actual friends understand. It means my hobbies are mostly things I can do sitting in front of my computer, which is the easiest physical state for me. It means I expect a certain amount of "I can't brain" and have some options for that. (Silly Flash games on the computer, simple knitting projects that don't take thought or the ability to count much, comfort rereading.) But that's better than feeling miserable.

1) My clothing is highly simplified
I almost always wear a black skirt, jewel-tone coloured knit top (there is about a 50% chance it is blue, but I have some green, purple, and a deep red in the mix) and if it is between about October and April, a lightweight cotton knit cardigan. For variation, I have a blue skirt, a green skirt, and black shirts and a few dresses. For casual, I have a few t-shirts.

Some of my medical stuff means my temperature regulation is wonky, and cotton or rayon or bamboo are basically my only options to avoid overheating regularly. I have no tolerance for poly-blends anymore, and wool and silk are too warm.) For sleeping, I wear a nightdress or loose t-shirt and shorts (also cotton).

They all go in the laundry together (no whites - even underwear - means I don't worry about colour bleeding) on hot (for allergy reasons) in a single washer/dryer load without sorting. I have a couple of outfits (job interviews, special occasions) that need different care, but I don't wear them much.

The combo means the amount of attention I actually have to pay to clothing is "When do I need to do laundry" and "Do I feel like wearing blue today, green today, or one of my 'I want something different' outfits?"

2) Figure out what parts of a task are extra tiring for me.
You'd think a microwave would help save spoons, but for me it's a lot of standing there waiting for it to cook, checking it, then waiting some more. I've had multiple apartments where there wasn't a handy place to sit in the kitchen, so that meant a lot of up and down. I have an InstantPot, and it's great for some things, but hits some of the same issues for me.

A slow cooker lets me spread out the effort (with a fair bit of flexibility about when something is done.) Basically, there's  four steps: put the food in, do final steps, portion it out, and then let it cool down so I can store it. (Sometimes there's 'stir when I go by for other reasons') That often works a lot better for me because there are fairly long gaps between steps.

I just got a sous vide device, which holds a water bath at a specific temperature. Again, that's 'set the thing up', then let it cook (for 1-2 hours on average), then eat, then pour the water out/clean up. (And I can throw another kind of food that reheats easily in the microwave while I'm in the last five minutes of cooking.)

I also do frozen meals regularly - there's a US chain called Trader Joe's that is great if you're single, need frozen foods, and want reasonably well-balanced, reasonably cheap, reasonably tasty foods. Figuring out what that is for you is worth doing over time. In the previous apartment, I also planned to just do delivery food once a week to help on the nights when I just couldn't make food go (and then would get enough to cover lunch the next day.)

(In the place I just moved into, that's more complicated, and I'm still figuring out what I'm doing. It's why I got the sous vide machine to help with the gap, since I can prep stuff for the sous vide, stick it in the freezer, and ignore it until I need it.)

3) Buy stuff that works for my body, not against it.
I do not use glasses most of the time. I have a few, but by preference I use steel water bottles and mugs with handles. Why? Because some of my exhaustion issues come with bonus clumsiness and proprioception problems. If I have a handle, I am less likely to drop a thing. If I drop ceramics, I can see the pieces more easily to pick them up (and the pieces tend to be bigger)

I did this after multiple rounds of shattering a glass at the worst possible moments (I was already feeling lousy, etc.) And then I'd have to clean it up immediately, or risk me (or worse, the cat) stepping on the shards. I hate those moments. I now design my life not to have them as much as possible.

Another variant: I find bending over to clean things especially hard (cranky lungs which don't like position changes) so I choose stuff that means I don't have to do that much, when it comes to cleaning supplies. You get the idea.

4) Outsource stuff I can.
Having someone else do the deeper cleaning tasks has made a huge difference - because of exhaustion and stamina issues, they'd take me all weekend to do in 10-15 minute chunks of activity to an hour+ resting before I could do more. I'm re-evaluating with the new apartment because some of the tasks are different (wood and tile floors vs. carpet, plus a shower instead of a bathtub) and because some new poking at issues (and my new-in-October CPAP machine) have made my stamina noticeably better.

On the other hand, I'm considering taking that money and shifting it to using a wash-dry-fold service for laundry rather than doing it myself, because I moved from somewhere with the laundry across the hallway to no laundry in my apartment and needing to go to a laundromat. I use grocery delivery in particularly bad weeks/months or to get stuff that would be a pain for me to haul.

(I'm single and live alone. So I can't swap stuff I find easier for stuff I find harder with a partner or roommate, and my only option if I don't do it is outsourcing it.)

5) Design for optimum bed awesomeness.
Pretty much everything gets worse if I sleep badly, so if I'm going to throw money at problems, it goes to sleeping first. Decent mattress, wool mattress pad, wool comforter (which help with the thermoregulation issues), another mattress pad that actually cools! Pillows and bedding that work for me, things that make my CPAP easier to use. And of course, being pretty rigorous about sleeping time.

This doesn't solve exhaustion issues from other causes, but it does at least mean I'm not making them worse.

6) Ruthless tracking of what I'm doing
I keep an utterly ridiculous spreadsheet that has quantitative information about what I've been up to and (new this year) how I felt. This lets me catch downward swings fast for the chronic health issues so I can take steps to help. It also means I can go "Oh, no duh I don't want to move today, I slept badly and did a lot more physical activity than usual the last two days." so I don't beat myself up about it.

(I feel better with more data, but this is an area where a lot of people have told me they'd find it overwhelming or not helpful. But it helps me, so it's on my list.)

On the plus side, it also helps me be clear when I have gotten stuff done, even if it doesn't feel like it.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2019, 04:57:46 pm »
Single most useful principle: be ruthless about what actually needs to get done, and whether I need to be the person to do it.

Single most useful thing I've done: regular house cleaning service. (I've usually done monthly, which works fine for me as single person, more below.)

Thank you as always Jenett.  I so appreciate all your input, as I note that you always seem to respond, and not only that but your responses always seem to be really thorough ones.  I realise you're the mod for this particular SIG, but I still felt it was worth stating that I really appreciate the lengths you go to.

And it gratifies me a bit when I realise that there are actually really sensible things I'm already doing that also feature on your list - simplified clothing, for example.

I still wish there was some sort of magical panacea which would fix all my issues but we can't have everything, can we?

Thank you again.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2019, 11:59:32 am »
(By 'spoon wrangling' I guess mean: making the most of your limited spoon supply, I guess; or being the most effective whilst the spoon supply holds out/without depleting spoon levels altogether.  I'm not being very articulate I suppose, but I imagine one or two of you will probably be able to see what I'm getting at...)

I'm suffering a high level of fatigue once again at the moment and looking for ideas how I might alleviate it, or at least keep functioning and keep holding down my job whilst I ride it out.

I used to use Habitica as an automated to-do list.  Partly this was spoon-saving - it offloaded my need to remember what the fuck I had to do and manage that part of it (executive function drains more spoons for me than for most people), especially for 'do this on a Tuesday' type tasks where I cannot even time.

Partly it was spooncare.  Among the things that I had on that to-do list were:
- actually take my medication
- drink a cup of water
- go to bed

all of which are, if not spoon-restorative, necessary for proper spoon regeneration over time.

I also had a very stripped-down set of actual tasks, which were usually (though not always) achievable, and were scaled to the reality of what I could do, not to what I thought I ought to do.  The substantial list were:

- do a household task (ideally laundry-related because two kids in diapers)
- do another household task
- clean up the living room of toys and dishes at kids' bedtime

If I did more than that, great.  I could usually manage two things, where those things were shepherding laundry or emptying the dishwasher or running errands or making dinner or taking my turn on diaper-wrangling night or doing some other necessary household thing.  On days when I had more spoons available, I did more, with a little bonus thing I could hit for 'did another thing'.

It was useful to have some sort of external acknowledgement of things-done like that, because frankly most of my need-to-do things are housework which is both eternal and unacknowledged by the cosmos.  But setting reasonable expectations for myself was a critical part of that, and "I can do two things almost all days, some days I can do more but that might mean I cannot do two things tomorrow" was part of that.

(I don't use it anymore because I fell out of the habit, not any deeper reason.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

PerditaPickle

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Re: Spoon wrangling. (Aka... self help techniques, I guess?)
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2019, 09:19:41 am »
I used to use Habitica as an automated to-do list.

Thank you Darkhawk, I shall look into this  :)
"Everything's made up of elements, right? Earth, Water, Air, Fire and... sunnink. Well-known fact. Everything's got 'em all mixed up just right."
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