Practical Solutions to Everyday Spoonie Problems

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Having a chronic illness means everyday tasks can be challenging, exhausting and painful. But there are steps we can take to make life easier, to limit the stress caused and to conserve our energy for more enjoyable activities. Here are some practical solutions to everyday problems.

1. I’m too weak to lift everyday objects

Some everyday objects like kettles, crockery and food containers can be too heavy to lift but you can replace them with lighter alternatives.

  • Kettle. Try using a ‘One Cup’ kettle. It only dispenses one cup of boiling water at a time. You don’t have to lift it, as the water is dispensed straight into the cup of your choice. It doesn’t take long to boil (about 90 secs) so you don’t have to stand for long.
  • Crockery. Try replacing traditional crockery and glassware with plastic alternatives. You can buy heat resistant plastic bowls, cups, plates and glasses. Picnic sets are a good option.
  • Heavy jars and food containers. Decant the contents into lighter and smaller plastic containers.

If you also struggle turning taps on and off, place a few plastic glasses in your bedroom and kitchen, which are prefilled with tap water by your carer or partner. Keeping hydrated is important for your health.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

2. I’m hypersensitive to everything

A very challenging symptom of ME/CFS is hypersensitivity. Common sensitivities include noise, light, smells, chemicals, medication and certain foods. The following can help reduce the impact and pain caused by hypersensitivity.

  • Blackout blinds
  • Ear plugs
  • Sunglasses
  • Use Chemical free products
  • Use Unfragranced skincare and washing products.
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Remote controlled/dimmer light switch. This me I can control the brightness of the light in my room from my bed.
  • Different coloured bulbs/lighting.

3. Everything is painful against my skin

When you have a painful condition like Fibromyalgia everything that touches your skin can cause pain. A few solutions I’ve found for this are:

  • Wear your clothes inside out because the seams cause pain. You can also buy seam free clothing
  • Wear Strapless tops
  • Avoid underwire bras
  • Choose your fabric carefully both for clothing and bedding
  • Buy baggy clothing
  • Avoid clothing with hoods e.g. hooded dressing gowns or hoodies
  • Avoid heavy fabrics or clothing
  • Cut your hair short. My long hair on the back of my neck and shoulders was causing me a lot of pain, so I cut it short. It may seem drastic but it made a big positive impact on my health and it will grow back. Scarves, hats and wigs are always an option when you have visitors, if you feel self conscious.

4. Conversations are exhausting

Holding conversations can be particularly challenging and exhausting, so why not try the following;

  • Limit time talking on the phone. Most things can be done online these days and it means you can do things in your own time
  • Speak to friends about not calling. Instead you can converse online
  • Code words for everyday tasks. When my ME/CFS is at its worst I struggle to speak at all. My husband and I have developed code words for simple tasks that need doing, so I only have to say one word rather than a sentence or two. It’s like our own private language.
  • Record instructions to carers or visitors in advance on a voice recorder. I frequently have new carers so I have recorded a list of instructions on my voice recorder so I don’t have to keep repeating myself, it also helps combat brain fog.
  • Compile a handbook with a list of tasks and instructions

5. I’m forgetful because of Brain fog

Even remembering the simplest tasks can seem impossible when you suffer from brain fog. Here are a few practical ways to combat this:

  • Calendar reminders. Use the calendar function on your mobile to set reminders
  • Voice recorder. I record my thoughts, to do lists, emails I need to type, ideas for new blog posts, instructions to carers and much more on my voice recorder. I would be lost without it.
  • Pen and paper or post-it notes. If you don’t have a voice recorder these will do
  • Routine. I find sticking to a strict routine is essential for combating brain fog
  • Everything has its place. I always know where to go to find what I need e.g. medication. It’s important to stay organised

6. Showering/bathing is exhausting

People that suffer from ME/CFS are often too weak to get in and out of the bath, and showering can be very painful and exhausting. Try these tips to reduce the stress caused:

  • Only shower once a week. I know some people may find this disgusting but it takes me days to recover from a shower, so I don’t have an alternative. Wet wipes, panty liners and dry shampoo are a spoonies best friend.
  • Shower stool. Aids like shower stools and grab rails can make showering less exhausting.
  • Routine. Find a quick routine that works for you and stick to it.
  • Ask for help. Ask someone to run water for you. Ask someone to lay out your clothes and towel ready for when you get out.
  • Wall mounted shampoo and soap dispenser. You may not be able to lift heavy shampoo and shower gel bottles. A wall mounted dispenser is a good alternative.
  • Cut your hair short. It used to take me ages to wash and dry my very long, thick hair. It was exhausting and painful. I now have very short hair which times a minute to wash and I can leave it to air dry.
  • Keep wet wipes by your bed so your can freshen up when you need to.

7. I can’t prepare food or drinks for myself

One of the most frustrating obstacles I have to overcome is, I can’t prepare food or drinks for myself. I am lucky enough to have care workers that prepare my food for me, but I have to be able to feed myself when they are not about.

  • Snacks. Have a selection of snacks at easy reach of your bed or bedroom.
  • Cool bag. If you struggle walking to the fridge or opening the door because it’s too heavy, why not try using a cool bag. You can place it in your bedroom and access fresh food when you need it. My care workers prepare my lunch in the morning and put it in the cool bag along with an ice block.
  • Batch prepare food. Ask your partner, friend or family member to help you prepare food for the week.
  • Water cups. I have a few plastic glasses in my bedroom and kitchen which are filled with tap water by my care worker or husband because I struggle using the taps.
  • Coffee or tea and sugar already in cups. Thanks to the One Cup kettle I can prepare my own hot drinks when I’m alone but I struggle standing long enough to place the coffee granules and sugar in the cup. So my husband does this for me in advance and places a few cups by the kettle.

8. I have limited mobility

There are many mobility aids you can use and adaptations that can be made to your surroundings. Don’t be too proud to use aids that will make your life easier.

    • Walking stick
    • Wheelchair
    • Walker
    • Neck and back brace
    • Perching Stools
    • Hospital/adjustable bed
    • Convert bathroom to a wet room
    • Grab rails
    • Riser recliner chairs
    • Reaching aids like Grabbers
    • Raised furniture

Please note: If you live in the UK and you’re disabled or have a long-term illness, you shouldn’t be charged VAT on products designed or adapted for your own personal or domestic use. For more information please follow this link:

  • Anything I use regularly, I keep in easy reach of my bed e.g. medication, wet wipes or bottle of water.
  • Keep your mobile phone at easy reach. It can be used to text or call someone in an emergency or just to communicate with other people in your home e.g. if they are upstairs and you need assistance.
  • Plug appliances you use regularly into a remote controlled socket. That way you can turn them off from your bed.
  • Remote controlled light switch. I have one of these in my bedroom and it means I can dim and turn off my main light from my bed.

9. I’m always too hot or too cold

I find it impossible to regulate my body temperature. Depending on how I feel on alternate between the following products:

  • Heated Throw
  • Rechargeable hand warmer
  • Ice packs
  • Electric fan
  • Cold wet flannels
  • Hot water bottles

10. I can’t answer the front door

Sometimes we are not strong enough to walk to the front door to answer it. Here are a few solutions:

  • Install a Key safe for care workers, medical professionals, friends and family. The added bonus of a key safe is, if you have a bad fall and have to call on the emergency services they can enter your house without having to force the lock.
  • Install an Intercom system. You can get basic Intercom systems where you can speak to visitors or more advanced ones which also include a camera. These are great for communicating with visitors without having to walk to the front door. You can turn unwanted visitors away without leaving your bed or direct wanted visitors to your key safe so they can let themselves in.
  • Keep your mobile phone at easy reach so you can call someone in an emergency.
  • Arrange parcels to be delivered to friends, family or neighbours or have a safe place where parcels can be left.
  • Arrange deliveries for when your partner, friends or family will be at home.

11. I’m bored. I have too much time to think

When you are too exhausted to socialise or even watch TV, boredom can set in. Boredom can lead to an overactive or anxious mind. Why not try:

  • Reading
  • Audio books. For the times when even physically reading is too exhausting, audiobooks are a great alternative.
  • E-readers like Kindle are a great, lighter option to physical books. You can also adjust the text size if you have trouble focusing due to fatigue.
  • Listening to Music or the Radio.
  • Download free Podcasts
  • Mindfulness Meditation. Calms anxiety and is great for general well being. There are many apps you can download for free.
  • Social media. Interact with friends online. There are plenty of distractions on social media and there is always someone about 24/7 for the nights you are unable to sleep.
  • Colouring books. A good distraction and a way to practise your creativity.

Do you have any tips you would like to add?

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  2. Jo Moss
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  1. These are great tips!

    For reading, I love my kindle, because I find it easier on my joints than paper books.

    I cut my hair short, too. It’s so much easier to deal with and so much better on my neck. Really cuts down on migraines.

  2. I have no disability but I am a klutz. Rather than have glasses of water which can be knocked over/have to be lifted, get Camelback water bottles. They don’t spill and you can drink from then lying down. Also dust and insects cannot get into the drink.

    1. Food and drink: I use a water bottle that has a straw and a flip up mouth piece. It works laid down and holds plenty of water. Care staff fill it for me from cold water machine. They also fill as small thermos with a hot drink such as decaf coffee or tea i can sip from laid down. Stays hot for a few hours. I’m thinking of getting a bento box that staff can fill with healthy snacks I can graze from in bed when unable to eat a full meal. I also use adapted scoop plate and “good grips” cutlery. Bigger handles and easier to hold when hands hurt and arms spasm. Often eat foods I only need a spoon for to make eating less fatiging and needs less coordination. Also dycem mat to stop plate slipping. Plastic beaker for additional drink with a large handle, a lid and a straw.

  3. This is such a great post. Really helpful. Sometimes I don’t really think about what else I could do to make my life easier. I can often do tasks but there are ways that they could be easier or consume less energy so I could do more and I find I don’t think about that often enough. I love my kindle. Years ago, I was getting very upset that I couldn’t read like I used to. Then I got a kindle. Since then I got the paperwhite one as my old one wasn’t backlit and this one is also lighter and I can have the brightness however suits and it even has a font aimed at helping dyslexic people so all round, it makes reading so much more accessible (I actually blogged on it because so many people dismiss e readers but don’t realise for a lot of people, reading would otherwise be inaccessible or less accessible)

  4. Really helpful post. The intercom is a brilliant idea, I’m definitely going to look into that.

    My IPad is my best friend, and I have a physical keyboard for it which makes typing while lying flat much easier. The keyboard is very sturdy and has the advantage of supporting the IPad too as I found it impossible to hold, and I do a lot of social media (yes, means there’s usually somebody somewhere who’s up in the night – with some groups there’s lots of members from the US whose daytime is our night time). I also have a bedstick to help me get out of bed, v useful. I even have a small bar fridge that I keep in my bedroom with cold drinks in it. Ice lollies – we always have ice lollies in and they are great for when I get an unbearable dry mouth or throat. I have a big cheap sports type bag that goes over my shoulder – I tend to carry my stuff about to either bed or sofa, and I can load it with ipad, phone, headphones, knitting, cbd pen etc etc and it’s easy to carry even if heavy. Last but not least that I can think of is getting the pharmacy where I get my meds from to put them into a dosette box, big big help.

  5. So many good and useful tips- thank you! I live alone and I really struggle to keep ‘on top’ of housework (although I have drastically dropped my standards from before I became unwell!) Aside from prioritising and doings percentage not a whole job in one go- what can you suggest? I don’t qualify for a support worker and my benefits aren’t enough to hire help. Thanks in advance 😊

    1. Hi Emma I don’t know where you live…but in Australia we have (for those with disabilities) personal care workers that will come in and clean your house once week or even a fortnight…there is a small outlay, but it’s not really all that much, it’s also a great form of social interaction….which I really enjoy, if you talk to your council people who look after age/disability care they may be able to set something up for you…

  6. I have a rolling stool that I use in my kitchen, the kind that is used by tattoo artists. It was actually pretty cheap on Amazon. I love it. I had to remove my kitchen rugs, but now I can extend my energy in the kitchen because I don’t have to stand and do my kitchen work. I still can’t do kitchen work every day, but on days when I am up to it, I can sit and load the dishwasher, chop veggies, etc. And because it has wheels I can move around the kitchen to do various tasks.

    I have make up remover wipes in my bedside table for night’s that I am too tired to wash my face before I collapse in bed, as well as a hair brush, nail clippers, etc- anything that I can do while laying down for those days when I don’t get past my bed.

  7. I purchased a pair of noise cancellation headphones. Best purchase I ever made. Prior to the headphones I just recently moved into a new apartment. I knew nothing of my neighbors above or below. Management said they weren’t allowed to disclose. I was assured I would be in a great place after I told management of my health issues. This turned out to be an outright lie. There were three screaming little girls and a single mom below me who had lost control and a couple above who enjoyed techno music with a sub woofer. Obviously I complained. I was told “too bad, luck of the draw”. I lived with the noise which went on sometimes till 3 in the morning. I bought the headphones last week They are a wonder.

    1. I had a very similar situation with my last neighbours, it can be so damaging for your health. I’m glad the noise cancelling headphones have helped. Take care

  8. Thanks for these suggestions, many I already do. One idea That is difficult for me is using a Kindle or iPad instead of a book or phone. The technology is so much heavier! I can’t use these devices without increased pain or fatigue. Any suggestions?

    Also, I find baths are a much easier alternative to showers.

    1. I actually find the Kindle lighter than most physical books but I guess it depends on how big the book is. You don’t actually have to hold the Kindle, I prop it on a pillow. But if you are ok with physical books, then stick with them. I would prefer baths to showers but I’m too weak to get in and out of the bath.

  9. Those of you in the UK – I have my main meals delivered to me each week from Wiltshire Farmfoods. They come frozen so all I need to do is heat them through. Like others have said I also wouldnt be without my kindle. I have a wet room & find it so much easier than struggling to get in & out of the bath.

  10. Great tips. I have some of my own to add:
    1. If you struggle to prepare meals buy healthy meal replacement shakes/bars (like Huel) and keep them by your bed. These have been a lifesaver to me when I’ve been too sick to even leave my room to microwave a meal.
    2. To combat boredom, consider investing in a game console like a Nintendo 3DS. There are lots of relaxing games which aren’t too mentally taxing to help you pass the time (like Animal Crossing!)
    I never gamed before my illness but now I use the 3DS everyday. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve made since I got sick. I can’t do things like colouring in (too much movement) and struggle with reading/audiobooks (too much concentration!) so video games are a perfect solution.

  11. Flask of drink (I like hot water) by bed
    If you can walk few steps but not use wheelchair a portable sunlounger so can have feet level is a boon, pref with thick cushion.

  12. A garden recliner chair in your living-room…One that adjusts the angle easily with a small hand movement. This allows an instant, almost effortless switch from sitting up straight…Working on a laptop, having a meal on a tray…to relaxing back…chatting with a friend, watching TV, to lying flat…complete rest, or taking a nap..almost effortlessly, and with your head always supported. This means you can have rest as effective as lying in bed, in an instant, interspersed with other activities, whenever needed, not isolated in your bedroom, or even having to get up from a chair and go to lie down on a settee. I think that having this available to me is a very important part of why I got better instead of worse.
    Also keeping our head supported must be a priority…if out socially, insist on seating that allows you to rest your head back. Our head is a 10 lb ball that our muscles must keep working to balance, unless we take that task away from them by keeping it supported.
    A bath board across the bath and under the shower saves having to move a stool in and out.
    But in my view, the recliner, and head support can tip the balance from deterioration to improvement.
    Background: Very sick in 1985, found out it was ME, doctor and I agreed as there was no diagnostic test and no medical treatment, I would stay away, and just ask for a sick note when I needed it. (This will also have had a lot to do with my getting better instead of worse.)
    Health has varied, never reached severe, never got to pain, very limited now, at 83, spend half the day in bed, reading about ME and writing articles on ME for Positive Health:

    Feel immense responsibility to do all I can, as I am still able, to improve things for PWME who are too sick to do it for themselves.

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