Yes, I imagine it is odd seeing me pull into a handicapped space at the grocery store and jump out in my gym clothes, but here in the 5th decade life is absurd and challenging to most of us because that is how life is. When my rheumatologist wrote a prescription for a handicapped placard he said he rather I spend time shopping and supporting the economy. Grocery shopping is a 2 and 1/2 hour workout, which is what I primarily wanted the placard for, however I did not consider the impact on my daily allotment of energy. In auto-immune speak we refer to that allotment as “spoons” per the Spoon Theory and the number of spoons I get per day is unpredictable unless a storm is coming, in which case I know I am screwed. People with chronic disease use our “spoons” on activities that healthier people take for granted, like showering, blow drying our hair, and dressing, so using a spoon or two to avoid a funny look from a stranger wondering why I am parking in a handicapped spot is plain silly.
Despite several turns at occupational therapy, the concept of pacing is difficult to adopt as a lifestyle. I am not a calm person by nature, however biology forces me to choose what is important enough to spend my spoons on each day. Forgetting to pace myself means I may use a few of tomorrow’s spoons, like spending tomorrow’s money when I use a credit card except a high-interest bill is due right away. The 4th decade ambition I possessed is no longer sustainable, yet as my rheumatologist kindly advised, I need to find purpose every day. If you see me park in a handicapped spot on my daily scavenger hunt for purpose, please consider that I am strategically doling out spoons, or do not consider me at all because you are focusing on your purpose, too.