Spoon Theory for Hypoparathyroidism

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by Mary Chapman |

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Hypoparathyroidism can result in a host of symptoms that, in addition to fatigue and generalized weakness, may include tingling in fingertips and other areas, and muscle pain and cramps. Your feelings, physical and emotional, can be overwhelming and difficult to explain to others.

The spoon theory can help family and friends understand what you go through regularly.

What is the spoon theory?

A lupus patient, Christine Miserandino, conceived the spoon theory as a metaphor to explain to an inquiring friend what it is like to live with a chronic disease.

According to the theory, you start each day with 12 spoons. You have to give up one spoon for each task you perform: brushing your teeth, dressing, visiting the doctor, making dinner, etc. When you’ve gone through all your spoons, that’s it. That’s all you can do.

Healthy people usually have the energy necessary to do whatever they need to do in a day. They have a seemingly infinite spoon supply.

The spoon theory underscores that those with a chronic disease have a finite amount of energy that they must carefully ration it. Opting to perform an errand or task limits what you can do for the rest of your day.

How does the spoon theory apply to hypoparathyroidism?

Hypoparathyroidism is a rare complex condition in which your body produces abnormally low levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH is key to regulating and maintaining a balance of calcium and phosphorus in your body. Low production of PTH leads to abnormally low blood calcium levels and an increase of phosphorus.

Because some symptoms, such as brain fog, depression, and fatigue, may not always be apparent to others, it may be tiresome to try to continuously explain to family and friends why you can’t, for example, walk several blocks from the car to the park, or why you feel down in the dumps, or forget a relative’s birthday.

Putting the theory into practice

Understanding that you have only so much energy renders daily prioritizing and planning crucial. Show yourself compassion if you don’t complete everything you set out to do. Remember, when you’ve spent all your energy, you are done with your day.

It’s vital that you practice self-care. If part of that means “using a spoon” for  completing a jigsaw puzzle in lieu of a small, but potentially tiring, get-together, that’s OK. You know your body best.

When you exhaust your spoon set, don’t shy from asking for help.

Once you’ve explained the spoon theory, your friends and family should be able to better appreciate your circumstances and understand your needs and limitations.


Last updated: July 14, 2020


Hypoparathyroidism News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.