Today was a big day, y’all. I got my first tattoo. And, to make it even more special two of my dearest friends were there with me and got tattoos as well. We all got spoon tattoos.
Let me start at the beginning, at least for my story. I’m sure you’ll read this and wonder what the hell it has to do with spoons… but hang in there, it’ll all make sense soon.
I am 32 years old (nearly 33) and live daily with chronic, invisible illnesses that are both physical and mental. From my teenage years I struggled with depression. Anxiety came along for the ride when I was in college. When I was 18 (my first year of college) I had emergency surgery to remove my appendix, when they cut me open it turned out my appendix was fine but I had a huge cyst on my ovary that was pushing all of my organs out of the way. After many years of cysts and other not so pleasant issues, I was finally diagnosed with PCOS in July of 2009. In my mid to late 20’s I started to notice that I always hurt. I started to have sleep issues. I honestly didn’t think much of it at first. Then, it just became a part of my life… I didn’t think much about it until I started having severe chest pain in February 2014. I went to my doctor who said it was costochondritis (an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breast bone). Since it was a new thing for me my doctor asked questions and checked some pressure points. He told me he felt something wasn’t right and wanted to rule out RA and Lupus. So I had plenty of blood drawn. A few days later he called me to tell me that,thankfully, I did NOT have RA or Lupus. However my blood showed a very high level of the marker for inflammation and he was positive I had fibromyalgia based on my symptoms and that blood test.
So, here we are. I’m sick. I don’t generally say that, but it is what it is. I spend my days fighting for my health in ways not many can understand. I am always tired. I always hurt. I can have really bad days. Each flare is different – I never know what fun symptoms will pop up or how a fibro flare may affect my body to cause issues with my other illnesses. I have moments where I get so frustrated that I don’t have a ‘normal’ body that does what it’s supposed to. I sometimes take my pain and frustration out on those closest to me, but I never intend to. I keep a lot of it to myself with those outside of my close circle for various reasons.
The real bitch? I usually don’t “look” sick, which throws a lot of people off and even has led to people saying that I’m not really sick or that I just need to “suck it up”. Those words hurt and they make fighting with my own body even harder at times because when I struggle I fear speaking up because I don’t want to be looked at in *that* way. The way people look at others that they don’t believe or, even worse, pity.
So, what do spoons have to do with all of this?
In doing my research on fibro I came across But You Don’t Look Sick.com where Christine Miserandino wrote this amazing piece on what it is to be a spoonie, that is someone who lives with an illness that is chronic and often times invisible. We don’t look sick, but we are. The idea is that we start each day with a limited number of spoons and each activity we do costs us spoons. Some days, often times many days, we run out of spoons before our day is done. We have to think long and hard before we do something out of the norm for us. Sometimes it can take days to fully recover from even something as seemingly simple as a shopping trip.
So, I am a spoonie. I measure my days in spoons the way a person would count out spoons for a fancy dinner party to assure they have enough for everyone. Some days are fantastic and full of energy, but often times and especially as of late, I can barely get myself to do what HAS to be done (work things, school work) let alone things that should be done (cleaning my house, cooking healthy meals). In my case it seems like my list is linked together in some way… both PCOS and Fibro can cause depression and anxiety. There are small studies that have shown a link between chronic pain illnesses and endocrine disorders (such as PCOS).
It’s not easy to live with a chronic illness of any type. I’d imagine it’s not easy to live with someone who has a chronic illness, either. My husband and good friends should be canonized as saints for dealing with me. Seriously.
So, aside from showing support for the spoonie community we got our spoon tattoos so that we will always and forever have an extra spoon when needed.
I am absolutely in love with mine. I also think I have opened a crazy new obsession – tattoos.