Thursday, 4 February 2016

Left Foot Forward: A Hidden Source of Spoons?

Left Foot Forward: Does your body have a hidden source of spoons?
by Chris (Leeds ME Network, follow on Facebook and twitter)
I have ME and fibromyalgia and can only use any part of my body for a limited amount of time before it becomes fatigued and/or painful. Like many spoonies, I have learnt not only to pace myself by taking appropriate rests but also to increase my span of active time by switching from one activity to another. So if I have been washing dishes I may switch to reading for a while, using my brain instead of my arms.
I have recently developed a further strategy which I think may be of interest to fellow spoonies. I am normally right-handed but I have begun to develop also using my left. I have had to go very slowly at first because it takes some getting used to - and to start with it uses up a lot of brain as well as body energy as you start to develop new neural pathways. I found that it was best to do just a bit at a time and to use my left hand for a number of different activities, not just one. So I use it for washing, for typing, for brushing my teeth, for picking things up, just about all the activities of daily life, each just a bit at a time at first... Some things are easier than others, but most of them get easier the more I do them, and the more experienced I get the longer I find I can do them for.
It's best to pick a range of activities so that you use your shoulders and arms as well as your hands - and don't forget the lower part of your body too. Next time you set off walking, put your left foot forward first.
You will probably find that this strategy takes up a bit more of your energy to start with - until your mind and body get used to it. But I found that after a while I now had an extra resource to turn to - a new source of spoons if you like. When my right hand gets tired - or if I am pacing properly of course, before it gets tired - I can turn to my left and get some extra mileage.
It helps to do whatever you are doing mindfully, focussing entirely on whatever it is you are doing, to give your brain and body the best chance of learning this new skill.
Of course you have to be cautious and bear safety in mind. Don't go beyond your energy level - and don't start off by lifting a heavy kettle!
Needless to say, left handed spoonies are not excluded from this idea. You may have had teachers trying to bully you into using your right hand at school, but this may be the time to try it again - rather more gently!
I do hope you find this idea useful. Let me know how you get on. I really hope you will find it's a way of laying your hands on a few more valuable spoons...