Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

Life with spoons

I'm slowly getting over the virus that essentially ate my week. It's been an interesting experience -- not always fun, but it's provided, I suspect, a little taste of what life is like for folks for whom the Spoon Theory is everyday life.

Of course, I've been sick before, plenty of times. But this one's been a little bit different, because it hasn't been quite as much about the symptoms. I mean, when I come down with Martian Death Flu, I say to myself, "Well, *sure* I can't do anything. My head is a sloshy mass of mucus, my fever bids fair to break the thermometer and my lungs are full of super-glue." But this time, the symptoms were actually fairly mild: the fever never went over 100, there was only a little sneezing, even the cough, while annoying as hell, wasn't bronchitis-level.

But what really characterized this particular illness was *exhaustion*. From the moment it hit, there's been this lingering enervation, a sense that the energy that usually moves me just didn't exist -- or, more to the point, was very strictly limited. There was a bit of muzzy-headedness as well, but more than anything it's been a remarkable bone-weariness.

Thursday really drove the point home. I woke up, and decided that I was feeling a hair better. The cough was making me nuts, but the rest of the symptoms seemed to be abating. So I printed out the various paperwork for my new job, went over there to sign and countersign that, bought my week's comics -- and that was it. As I headed home from Outer Limits, I started to drive to Whole Foods to buy something for dinner, and realized that, if I tried to do that, I wasn't sure I had the energy to drive all the way there, shop, and get home. I could feel myself running on fumes, in a way that's rarely if ever happened to me before. So instead, I headed home, plonked into my chair, and collapsed. For the first time, I grokked the concept of simply being out of spoons.

Really, it's qualitatively different from ordinary exhaustion. I mean, I know tired. I routinely push myself past sensible boundaries and keep going -- perhaps not as often as I did ten years ago, but it's still not unusual for me to confront exhaustion, shrug it off, and just keep going. But that assumes that there are reserves that can be tapped through a little force of will. In this case, I just couldn't find anything there: those usual reserves were just *missing*, stolen away by the virus.

Very disconcerting, and it gives me a better sense of sympathy for people who have to deal with it every day. As it is, I have reasonable hope of getting over it reasonably efficiently -- my limits seem to be rising, day by day, so with any luck I'll be more or less back to normal energy before too long. And like I said, it was just a small taste: simple exhaustion with minor symptoms, rather than anything truly *bad*. But it did drive home the notion of how *different* life is with limited choices: when your reserves are so clear and visible that every little task is measurably drawing from them. Very different indeed...
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