amber rahim

Chronic illness: the parts we don't talk about

Why 13 hour TV marathons are ok in my house


As much as I agree that television and electronic gadget time should be limited, I find myself turning to that magic box, TV, on a regular basis.  You could say it saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Take this weekend.  I let F do a 780 minute TV marathon on Sunday.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, have you ever read the “spoon theory“? Christine Miserandino explains the limitations that people with various chronic illnesses live with. It’s really good so if you haven’t read it yet click the link.

It was King’s Day in the Netherlands this weekend and on Friday all schools held the “King’s Games”. It’s a fantastic initiative to celebrate with sport. F loved it. She was really active all day at school and came home wanting to play outside until it was dark. On Saturday she was starting to wilt but was full of enthusiasm for picnics, playing and chinese roasted chicken (who doesn’t love this?) and although it was King’s Day we kept the activities light. But not light enough. It was difficult for us to have to rein in her fun and we didn’t do a very good job of it. Maybe she would be ok. How would we know what her boundaries were if we didn’t let her test them?

This is where the spoon theory comes in. She had used up all her spoons. In F’s case, her spoons are potassium (K) and sodium chloride (NaCl). Unlike the rest of us, her kidney’s don’t hold on to the K and NaCl so when she is active, she depletes the stores in her body, making her weak and nauseous.

She awoke at 3:30am on Sunday, unable to sleep and starting to vomit in a “normal for her when she is coming down with something or has overdone it” way. Despite holding her on my lap and being with her for an hour she couldn’t go back to sleep. I couldn’t stay awake without getting cranky so I told her she could play in bed but that I needed to go to sleep. Wise that she is, she let me go.

The TV marathon started at 8am and was only interrupted by bouts of vomiting and going to the loo.  The magic box did it’s work of distracting and entertaining and by the afternoon she perked up enough to nibble on crisps and raisins.

By 9pm, after hanging out on my bed for awhile (me reading, her still watching telly) I told her to close her eyes and go to sleep. My booked finished, I moved her to her own bed.

Yes there are better ways to distract and entertain even really sick kids but TV works for F.  Big plus: it is easy for me. Yes, yes, yes, I am a mum and I chose “easy” over “best for my child”.

I accept that I have double standards (I would never let S do this) but it came down to this: I was tired and I wanted something that would work.  So I make these choices that in isolation don’t look good. Ok, even in the big picture this one doesn’t look good (13 hours!). But it fulfilled a need – of F to rest, be entertained and be distracted from the nausea and for me to have an easy day. I guess I had used up my spoons too.

9 thoughts on “Why 13 hour TV marathons are ok in my house

  1. Dear Amber, thank you for this post and your honesty. I found myself in similar situations: having used up my spoons with children who did the same and no energy to entertain them or figure out another way than electronic devices. I’m very strict about the use of them, but when I reach the point where I am sleep deprived and maybe sick too, I allow myself and my kids to change the rules.
    Rules are ok, but it’s also ok to break them from time to time, if it’s something that helps us parents (!) and / or our children. We can’t always rely on others to help us – friends, partners, babysitters etc. – so we have to figure out what works best for us.
    I hope you and F are both feeling better now.

    • It’s reassuring to know that I am not the only one and that people do understand what it’s like. We are both feeling better. that day of no activity was what we both needed and I feel like I have a decent amount of spoons again.
      Wishing you a few days of uninterrupted sleep!

  2. Amber, I love to see your posts. But don’t be too hard on yourself.
    Adults who have overdone it have “duvet days”, they’re not always able to function as normal after a bout of activity. And providing you monitor the quality of programmes that the children watch, and ARE THERE WITH THEM, no harm is done. Trust your instincts, you are good. Lots of love

  3. Beautiful and honest post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Next post?: Best tv shows to watch during your chronic illness flare tv marathon 🙂

  5. Pingback: On the Brink | amber rahim

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