Monday, April 13, 2015

Spoonikitty! Or How I Turned My Illness into a Rainbow Zebra Unicorn Butterfly Kitten

Here's the thing about chronic illness that no one ever tells you: it's like those potato chips: no one gets just one. No one with chronic illness has just the one thing happening, or just the one diagnosis - they ALL have comorbidities.

In case you're not sure what that means, comorbidity means the simultaneous presence of two or more chronic diseases or conditions in a patient. I have yet to meet a spoonie (that's what we call ourselves, us chronically ill folks, I'll get to that in a second) who has less than three chronic illnesses. For example, I have Mast Cell Activation Disorder, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Hypothyroid, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, just to name a few. Many have overlapping symptoms, and maybe some are really a symptom of having the others. They're all related, but a person can have any one of my diseases without having any of the others. Lucky me, I hit the jackpot and got ALL of these (plus some I didn't name!)
Maybe there is that one person who just has the one thing, but I assert that if that is the case, they would be the exception rather than the rule. 

But I digress. My point is, we are many-faceted, we spoonies. Multi-layered. Complicated. Delicate snowflakes. Rainbow unicorn butterfly kittens.

And one day, someone posted this in my facebook feed:

And I saw it and said "YES!"

And then, "I must make that into a plush....only it needs to also have zebra stripes.

Why zebra stripes, you might be asking?
Want one? I'm selling them, too! In my Etsy store. 

The zebra is our mascot. There's a saying in western medicine, "When you hear hoof-beats, think horses, not zebras." It's meant to make doctors think of the most common causes of symptoms, not the rare ones. It often works - but zebras, though rare, DO exist. Doctors tend to forget this at times, which is why so many chronic and invisible illnesses take YEARS to diagnose. 

For many of us, this creates medical PTSD - not being believed, undergoing test after test, or worse, being told it's "all in our heads". It ISN'T. Our illnesses are real, and once we DO finally have a diagnosis, our lives are STILL spent in doctors offices, hospitals, physical therapy offices, and therapists' offices (for all of the medical PTSD and living in an ableist world with a disability, and all we've lost to these illnesses). 

Want one? I'm selling them, too! In my Etsy store. 
Sometimes it can help to know that we are not alone. That there are others like us, who have undergone the same arduous journey, who really GET what it's like to live with chronic and often invisible illness, who are cheering for each other, supporting each other, wanting us to do well and live the best life it is possible for us to live. 

That's where Spoonikitty was born. 

Want one? I'm selling them, too! In my Etsy store. 
"You keep talking about spoons...what on earth do spoons have to do with chronic illness???"

Well, a woman named Christine, who lives with lupus, wrote The Spoon Theory, which is a brilliant explanation of what it is like to live with a chronic illness. 

And it caught on like wildfire, spreading throughout the chronically ill like a beacon of light: We Are the Spoonies. 

Want one? I'm selling them, too! In my Etsy store. 

Spoonikitty represents us. And also, the support we so much need, and the understanding and love we have for each other. 

Spoonikitty is meant to offer comfort. And the reminder that we are all out here rooting for each other. Even when it's crazy hard. 

Want one? I'm selling them, too! In my Etsy store. 

Also, Spoonikitty is super adorable. And not just for us - for everyone. Everyone needs comfort and support every now and again.

Want one? I'm selling them, too! In my Etsy store. 

A portion of the proceeds go to paying for physical therapy and my mountain of medical bills. 

This is a detail of one of the types of wings. All are unique, so yours may vary. Also if you don't see the one you want in the shop, let me know, I'll make the one you prefer. I can do all one color (zebra-striped or plain), too.

They're delightfully snuggable. And unique in every way, just like you. And me. 

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