Asthma Spoons.

Asthma Spoon Theory

I first heard of the Spoon Theory over a decade ago. However, I was younger and didn't really grasp what it meant. It wasn't until recent years that I could absolutely relate to it and completely embrace it.

What is the Spoon Theory?

The Spoon Theory is a metaphor used to explain the reduced amount of energy someone with a chronic illness has available for daily tasks. It was written by Christine Miserandino in 2003. Christine has lupus and was trying to describe to a friend what it is like living with chronic fatigue over lunch one day.

She grabbed the spoons from their table as well as the ones from neighboring tables and had twelve in total. The spoons represent daily tasks. A healthy person has an unlimited amount of spoons per day and doing daily tasks are of no difficulty. For someone with chronic illness, we get twelve spoons per day. Each task we do requires one spoon (and sometimes more than one spoon). We refer to ourselves as “spoonies.”

Asthma and fatigue

It's not a secret that asthma can be utterly exhausting. Especially, when in the midst of a flare-up and in the days and even weeks afterward. When the exhaustion is just too much, we absolutely have to rest as much as possible.

Our spoons can be used up very fast and we need to be pretty meticulous about planning out our days so we don't use up our spoons too fast. Once we’re out of spoons for the day, the only way to get them back the following day is to rest. If you are fortunate enough to have leftover spoons at the end of the day, they do not carry over to the next.

Asthma: the visible and invisible symptoms

Asthma has visible symptoms, such as coughing and audible wheezing. But there are also plenty of invisible symptoms such as fatigue and even pain. Some would even classify asthma as an invisible illness because looking at a person who isn't in the midst of an active flare-up you probably wouldn't know they have asthma. That doesn't make it any less real.

There are unfortunately still many stigmas surrounding asthma that are incredibly frustrating. As spoonies, we have to really take the time to plan out our day (in advance if possible) and decide what things we are going to do and what tasks we want to complete while not using all of our spoons prematurely. Some days when our asthma is flaring it might take multiple spoons to just take a shower or go to the grocery store.

Manage your spoons wisely

I have said it before and I’ll say it again - we aren't Superman. We are people living with asthma and sometimes just trying to get through the day. The simple act of breathing is often taken for granted from those who have normal lungs.

Dealing with asthma symptoms can be exhausting by itself and having to then also manage your daily tasks whether for yourself or your family can sometimes seem unbearable. Using the Spoon Theory to manage our spoons can help us delegate which tasks are essential and which ones can wait. We need to take the necessary time to rest when we are able to. And when we aren't able to rest and take things slow, knowing our limitations is so important.


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