Sunday, 20 May 2012

Finding a Gift for Someone with a Chronic Illness

My Kindle e-reader, so much easier
and lighter to hold than a book.
If you read my blog because you have a friend or family member with a chronic illness, maybe you've wondered what makes a great gift for a person who is sick. Maybe you could get some inspiration from the wonderful gifts I've had.

I've had some wonderful presents for my birthday this year. I had flowers, a phone calls from overseas, lovely cards and letters, some gorgeous shower gels I'll be able to use when the weather is warmer and my skin not so fragile, teas, coffees, low-GI potatoes (sort of an in-joke), a marble cutting board for the kitchen.

I had some incredibly useful and practical gifts. One was my Kindle the kids gave me. I'm in the process of populating it with books - and, where I can, replacing my paper books for the electronic form that is lighter, easier to carry, and takes less space.

It's an incredibly practical gift because my house resembles a library - about half of it is my professional library and the other half is just what I love to read.  Paper books are heavy, and they take up space and gather dust. And I love them.  I had always said I would never give them up for an e-reader. But now, when I'm looking at how hard it is to hold a heavy book, and how easy it is to hold my Kindle, I've got to say I'm hooked.

Last night I received another amazing gift.

A friend of mine had been unable to come to my birthday party, and we'd planned to meet last night to have dinner and go to a concert.  I had been looking forward to the concert, but only made it through dinner before I was too tired. We did, however, have a great dinner. And my friend gave me the most amazing gift.

I perhaps ought to explain that my friend is a nurse. (Not just any nurse she has a PhD in nursing and is a university lecturer.) And we've been friends a couple of decades. She knows me very well, and she knows about people who are sick.

Groceries - with special treats thrown in.
An amazing gift.
What she gave me - was a huge bag of fresh fruit and two supermarket bags of groceries.  There were all the basics like toilet paper, tissues, toothpaste, and breakfast cereal. But she also included:

  •  baby wipes (because she knows that some days going for a shower is just such a huge effort and a quick freshen up is all I can really hope for), 
  • sorbolene and a dry skin wash for my irritated dry skin, 
  • sensitive skin washing powder, 
  • gluten free pasta and pre-made pasta sauces (from my recipes you've probably guessed I don't usually use pre-made sauces, but the time has come when cutting corners is the only way to go), 
  • that rice that cooks in a minute in the microwave - and a premade gluten free sauce to add to meat to go with it,
  • small packs of nuts I can carry in my handbag (it can be very hard to find gluten and lactose free foods when I'm out at doctors etc.)
  • a block of my favourite chocolate,
  • herbal teas, and decaffeinated coffee bags,
  • vegetable juice so I still have some nutrition when I don't have the energy to eat,
  • a spray thing I've never heard of before that sprays on clothes to take out wrinkles so they don't need to be ironed,
  • long-life almond milk (I haven't tried almond milk before, so I'm looking forward to it),
  • cash (quite a lot of it actually - just tucked in behind the chocolate where I wouldn't notice it until I was unpacking groceries - when she was no longer here).
I'm always awed by generosity of the people who are closest to me, but not only that, but by how well they all seem to know me, and to know what I most need (even when I don't realise it.)

As to the question I began this post with: What does make a great gift for someone with a chronic illness? Anything that shows you care is always good. Anything that shows you know them well, and which will help make their life a little easier is amazing.


  1. My Kindle was one of the best gifts ever, for all of the reasons you mention. It's much easier on my hands and since it's lighter I can carry it everywhere.
    One of the other really great gifts I've gotten is when my niece has come over to clean the cat boxes because she knows it's hard on me. It's always an unexpected and welcome gift when she stops by.

    Hope you're feeling better this week. I'm tapering down on prednisone and feeling every mg that is missing!


    1. Hi Donna
      How awesome that your niece does the cat litter! (I was delighted one day to wake from my nap to find my niece was doing my dishes.)
      I'm still feeling the loss of my prednisone - know what you'e going through. I hope you have something other way to control pain!


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