Somehow it’s gift giving season, and I’m already behind schedule! As I look through my list of loved ones, I can’t help but squirm a bit. What am I supposed to get people this year?
Buying gifts for friends with medical conditions can add another layer of complication. As a patient myself, I often explicitly ask my family for gifts that will help me feel better or take some of the stress of illness off my shoulders. And yet… everyone seems to stick to the few items on my list that aren’t illness related. It can feel uncomfortable to buy a gift that seems to say “you’re sick and need help.” Yet, what it actually says to us is “I see you, I see what you carry every day, and I want to make your load lighter.”
Quite frankly, it feels amazing.
We understand that it’s tricky to navigate buying gifts for those who live with illness when you’re not in their shoes. That’s why each year at Mighty Well we create gift guides! This year, we took a slightly different approach. Instead of a guide developed by our team, we’ve turned to the real experts — our community of Friends in the Fight! We’ve asked what’s on our Friends’ wishlist this year and are thrilled to share the results:
chronically comfortable clothing
Clothing is a common gift that may feel more comfortable to give than something more medical like a blood pressure monitor. Yet the right clothing can also act as an “I see you” wink to a chronic illness pal. So many patient-created clothing lines include clever phrases to empower, or find humor in, the experience of chronic illness.
Let’s face it, everyone loves feeling comfy and cozy. But when you live with illness and your body is constantly uncomfortable or in pain, a snuggly sweater or fuzzy pair of socks feels extra luxurious. Our Friends’ wishlists included cozy clothing items for lounging at home, including pants with adjustable waist bands. Conditions that cause weight fluctuations can make it frustrating to find pants that fit. Adjustable waistbands allow your body to move in and out of sizes without requiring a new wardrobe! It can also help patients with hip or abdominal pain to wear pants that won’t put additional pressure on these areas.
Other Friends wished for medical clothing, such as compression socks or PICC line covers. These may be medically necessary items, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun, stylish gifts! For a combination of cozy, stylish, and medically helpful, a few of our friends included the Cocoon Cardigan on their lists. This classy-yet-loungeable wrap makes it easy to access PICC lines, ports, and feeding tubes, or to simply throw something snuggly on when your body struggles to regulate its temperature. Its unique cut also keeps the fabric from getting tangled in wheelchairs.
cozy ways to spend the winter
While we can all hope that this spring will bring change, we know that the winter is going to be cold and difficult. So, give a gift to make the season a bit warmer and easier!
You could take some of the work off their plate with a gift of a meal box or a fun new kitchen gadget! If they have dietary restrictions, cooking gifts can carry complications, but also extra meaning when done thoughtfully. What types of meals do they make? What foods are safe and healthy for them, but also tasty? Maybe an air fryer as a healthier option for doughnuts and fries would be meaningful, or a crock pot with an illness-specific recipe book? One of my favorite gifts to give friends with restricted diets is recipe jars. Assuming you can round up safe recipes, these jars are beautiful, festive, and make baking so much easier!
Anything to increase the hygge (warmth and coziness) this winter is a winner. Blankets, tea sets, hot cocoa mix, microwavable slippers… If we’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future, let’s make home as inviting as possible! Looking for a homemade option? Heating pads are fun and easy to make, and a must-have for chronic pain patients!
Life with complex medical conditions gets complicated. And with the fatigue and brain fog that comes with many illnesses… let’s just say, keeping track of everything can feel like a full time job! Anything that helps with organization is a huge relief! Daily planners, medical diaries, and spoonie journals were a wish list hit. Not only are these journals immediately useful for decluttering the mind, they make visually beautiful gifts.
For organizing medical supplies, a few Friends requested the Self Care Case or Fluid Motion Backpack. Having to carry gear for infusions, tube feeds, or other medical devices can feel alienating. Having a stylish, discrete way to keep these items organized on the go can make a world of difference.
Unsurprisingly, one of the most common requests we saw on people’s wishlist was facemasks! Nothing says “happy 2020 holidays” like a new set of stylish (and oh so breathable) masks. And hey, it’s not a bad way to let those you love know you wish them a safe and healthy new year!
As we sit around our houses looking at all of our things, we may not be so eager to stuff more material objects into our space. So perhaps the best gifts this year are experiences. Anything to break the monotony of winter days spent at home is a blessing! Companies like Crate Joy make this kind of gift easy! There are so many possibilities — date nights, escape rooms, artistic adventures, kids’ activities, even interactive Sherlock Holmes mysteries, all available in fun care packages! You can buy a monthly subscription or just a one-time box of fun. Or, prefer to flex your own creativity? Make your own care package! Get inspired with this DIY movie night or stay home spa day kits. Or, keep it simple, with the gift of a good book, board game, or coloring books.
Another trend in our Friends’ wish lists was change. More than things, we want to see the world move past this bizarre year and into something better. While we can’t give the gift of eradicating COVID-19 (although perhaps a vaccine could!), we can choose to spend our money in ways that will make the future a little bit brighter. Donate to a cause your loved one cares about, in their name. Give a gift certificate to a local business they love. Even if it’s not safe for them to spend it right away, it will provide something to look forward to, and help keep the local economy afloat. Give gifts that promote self care. Or, show your favorite patient that you support their community by buying gifts made by people with chronic illnesses.