What are Your Spoons Worth?

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Like many people diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I have also been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome now known as SEID (Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease).
 
What is SEID?
 
The five main symptoms that the new IOM considers key for SEID are:

  • Reduction or impairment in ability to carry out normal daily activities, accompanied by profound fatigue

  • Post-exertional malaise (worsening of symptoms after physical, cognitive, or emotional effort)

  • Unrefreshing sleep

  • Cognitive impairment

  • Orthostatic intolerance (symptoms that worsen when a person stands upright and improve when the person lies back down) 

Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
 
No matter what fancy name the medical community uses, to me it means that I am always tired. Every activity that I choose to do will eat away at what little energy I have each day. I have to decide after work if I have enough energy to go to the post office, bank, swimming, or if I need to go straight home for my 3:30 p.m. nap.
 
I am always looking for ways that I can save my energy.
 
Grocery shopping takes the most out of me. It doesn’t matter how rested I am when I start shopping, by the time I’ve made it through all of the aisles, waited in the check-out line, pushed the cart to the car and unloaded the cart into the car, I am done. It becomes an effort just to drive home. Luckily, my husband and daughter carry the bags upstairs to the kitchen and help put away the groceries because after shopping, I grab an ice pack and head straight to my chair for a few hours.
 
More times than I care to admit, I have gotten half way through the store and find myself staring at the shelves. I stand there in a mindless fog, and even though I have my grocery list, I am lost. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it. At that moment, I am unable to process my thoughts into words and feel as though I can’t go on. I have spent all of my spoons.
 
So, I was really excited when our town recently added an Aldi’s. It appealed to me for a couple of reasons. It is smaller (less walking), offers a greater variety of natural foods and is cheaper. I did my homework before going. I looked up the Wal-Mart price of everything on my shopping list so I could compare them to Aldi’s pricing.
 
One of the ways Aldi’s cuts costs is by having the shopper bag their own groceries. After I went through the check-out line, I pushed the cart to the bagging table. I didn’t think it would be a big deal to bag the groceries, but it turned out to be exhausting. Basically, I had to handle the items in the cart three times. First, leaning into the cart to take the food out and place it on the table. Second, I placed the groceries in the bags. Third, I put the full grocery bags back into the cart and finally, after pushing the cart to the car, one more time I took the bags out of the cart placing them into the car.
 
It took all my spoons, i.e. energy, to drive home and put away the groceries. Afterwards, as I was resting, I compared the prices between the two stores.
 
The total savings was $15.71. Was it worth it? I can think of a lot of things that I would rather spend my spoons (energy) on than grocery shopping.
 
To the healthy shopper, it probably seems ridiculous that I would rather spend an extra $15.71 than all of the steps it took to bag my groceries. It really is a struggle deciding between saving money and saving spoons. I need both. It has taken me years to realize how important it is to do everything I can to save my energy.
 
I am happy to report that I may even be able to save more spoons.
 
Some Wal-Marts have added a new grocery shopping feature called “pick up today.” You simply go online and select your groceries and the time you want to pick them up. There is no fee and the only requirement is that your purchase is over $50.00. You drive up to the door and they will put your bags in your car for you. You will want to check with your local grocery stores because I’ve heard this is becoming a trend.


Melissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author of Ravyn’s Doll:  How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child. Through her Facebook page, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 16,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients. In addition to her own blog, Melissa has been published in “Living Well with Fibromyalgia” and the NFMCPA “Advocate Voice.” She’s a graduate of the 2014 Class of Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association and a member of the Leaders Against Pain Action Network.
 
You can find Melissa at:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/survivingfibro
Blog: www.fibrowarriorslivinglife.com
Twitter: MelissaSwanso22

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