I have been looking for spoon jewelry for a while and finally found some that I like on Etsy from The Paper Poppy Store.
Last week, I wore the necklace and earrings to work and one of my coworkers asked what my necklace was. I told her that it was a spoon, that I have lupus and RA, and sort of tried to summarize The Spoon Theory and the idea of spoons as they relate to chronic illness.
I decided to email her and my two other main coworkers, including my supervisor. I told them that I was diagnosed with Lupus and RA in 2008 and that I try to educate people wherever I can. My supervisor already knew about my illnesses, but my other two coworkers did not.
My email read:
Today when X stopped by the office, she asked me what was on my necklace. It was a spoon. My earrings today have spoons on them, too. I told X that it's in reference to The Spoon Theory, written by a woman with lupus to try to get her friend to understand what it feels like to have lupus. You might not know, but I've had lupus and rheumatoid arthritis since 2008. I really try to educate people as much as I can, and since I am working so closely with you all, I figured I would share The Spoon Theory with you:
One of my coworkers emailed me back to say that reading The Spoon Theory made her cry and that she is so grateful to me that I use my “precious” spoons to help others. I was so touched by her response.
Maybe part of it is the fact that we work in patient advocacy, that there is some measure of understanding. But I don't think I have ever been in a situation where I felt so good, not only about disclosing, but also about the subsequent response that I received.
Since I am working so closely with these people, I feel that it is important for them to understand my situation, although I hope that they will never have to see me at my worst; but if they do, I hope they are at least a little bit prepared.
I find that trying to educate people can be exhausting, but in this case, I felt like I had the perfect opening and opportunity to broach the subject.
And that openness and honesty was returned to me in the responses that I received from them.
I’ve also realized that it’s really important to meet people where they are. In this case, I met them at a very basic level. A comment about my spoon jewelry led to a very meaningful conversation about the nature of lupus and RA, and some of the issues that result from them.
I didn’t attempt a technical conversation about the major medical complications of lupus and RA, or the treatments used to treat these illnesses. I tried to give them a basic idea of what it feels like to be me.
The truth is, you never truly know what is going on in another person’s life unless you ask them or talk to them and learn about them. I’m sure that when my coworker inquired about my necklace, she didn’t anticipate the depth of the response that she received from me.
But I’m really glad that she asked, because it opened up a line of communication that may have stayed closed.
The Spoon Theory has spoken to me since I first got sick, and I like being able to share something so valuable with others. And more recently, I’ve started talking about spoons a lot, because they truly do make sense to me.
And I love my spoon jewelry. The necklace and earrings are a constant reminder to me of what I’ve been through, and my daily battle for spoons.