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Help for the holidays: Gift ideas for someone who’s chronically ill


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banner image for "Float Like a Buttahfly," a column by Kerry Wong, depicting a butterfly winding through the sky

Bracelets with messages meant just to cheer me,

Wireless earbuds when anyone’s near me,

Cute comfy PJs without a drawstring,

These are a few of my favorite things.

The holidays are upon us, and while that should be a time of joy and celebration, of love and laughter with family and friends, the reality is that the season often begins with stress and frustration. Where will we go? Who will we see? And what should we get for the people on our list?

Well, I’m here to help — with that last part, anyway.

For the past 20 years or so, my husband and I have often given each other experiences, rather than tangible gifts. Once I got sick (and especially as my illness progressed to disability), we had to modify those experiences a bit, but they’re still great ways to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. We go to shows, concerts, and football or baseball games where I don’t have to do much more than sit. We’re able to enjoy flexible, relaxing vacations and are even looking forward to one next week!

Shopping for someone with a life-altering chronic illness like sarcoidosis can be challenging, given all the ways the disease affects us. Of course, the intangible ways to show you care still mean the most, and should be done all year long. But if you’re looking for something that can go in a pretty gift bag, these are a few of my favorite things.

Note: Neither BioNews, the parent company of this website, nor I received any compensation for mentioning the following products. These aren’t advertisements, just items I’ve found to be especially helpful or comforting as I deal with sarcoidosis symptoms and treatments.

A few of my favorite things

Photo of Kerry wearing Yankees glasses, mask, and shirt, large pearl necklace, and hoodie with zipper opening in the sleeve, through which her IV connects to her port.

Kerry gets her weekly infusion while wearing an IV hoodie, Hot Girls Pearls, and a custom Yankee mask over a Vogmask. (Photo by Kerry Wong)

Like many others with sarcoidosis, I receive regular infusions as part of my treatment plan. I have to go sleeveless so staff can access the port in my upper arm, but the hospital is usually too cold for comfort. That’s where the BeWell IV Zip Hoodie comes in. Zippers in both sleeves enable nurses to access my port while I remain warm and comfy. Plus, I’m still able to hold my phone or my Kindle (or work on my next column).

Between inflammatory symptoms, autonomic dysfunction, medication side effects, and being a middle-aged woman, I often get severe hot flashes. They may come out of nowhere or happen with minimal exertion, such as when I’m getting dressed in the morning. Hot Girls Pearls are the perfect solution: They look like stylish jewelry, but are actually wearable ice packs!

When sarcoidosis affects our lungs or joints, we may have difficulty walking or breathing without assistance. If we can accessorize our assistive devices to reflect our personalities, we effectively transform ourselves from objects of pity to subjects of style. A quick search on Amazon or Etsy can return countless mobility aid and oxygen tank accessories.

In early 2020, we all started wearing face masks to protect ourselves from COVID-19. While mask and vaccine mandates have been withdrawn in many areas, with an immune-mediated condition like sarcoidosis, we may not be ready to stop those practices (I generally wear two masks now). Vogmasks offer high-level protection in a soft fabric that doesn’t irritate sensitive skin the way disposable masks do. Similarly, custom cotton masks (with a filter pocket) that reflect our interests or style can be more fun to wear, while still keeping us safe.

When I’m getting an hourslong infusion, sitting in an always-late doctor’s waiting room, or at home resting and recuperating, I’ve always got my Kindle nearby. Books written by, for, or about people with chronic illnesses can be especially comforting. One that I particularly enjoyed was “Backbone: Living with Chronic Pain without Turning into One” by fellow sarcoidosis warrior Karen Duffy. Other feel-good reads include any of Michael J. Fox’s memoirs and the “Chronic Romance” series by Georgia James.

I can’t offer a list of books without mentioning “Keeping It Real with Arthritis: Stories from Around the World” by Effie Koliopoulos. That’s not just because one of those stories is mine, though I am proud to share that. The book contains more than 100 stories written by people with various chronic illnesses, and it’s what inspired me to create next year’s favorite, “Kaleidoscope Rare Disease Stories.”

Whether you’re getting all your shopping done on Black Friday or waiting until the last moment before your holiday gatherings, these gifts are sure to make the sarcoidosis warrior in your life feel comforted and cared for.

For even more great gift ideas, check out Carrie Kellenberger’s “Spoonie Holiday Gift Guide: For Chronically Ill & Disabled Friends” and Christie Patient’s “Holiday Gift Guide: PF and Lung Transplant Edition.”

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Note: Sarcoidosis 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. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

The post Help for the holidays: Gift ideas for someone who’s chronically ill appeared first on Sarcoidosis News.

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