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What to Buy (or Not!) for Someone With Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Are you looking for a holiday gift for someone with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS)? I posted the following list last year and got a great response, so I decided to offer it up again.
Here are some ideas for a thoughtful present:
Warming products: Most of us are cold a lot of the time and have trouble warming up. A lot of new products that heat up are on the market, including scarves, slippers and blankets.
Time fillers: Because we can be stuck in bed or on the couch a lot, we need ways to spend our time. DVDs, video games, hand-held games, puzzle books, magazine subscriptions and the like can add variety to how we fill those hours. It's an added bonus that brain-training games may, according to research, help us keep or regain cognitive abilities. Also consider items related to any hobbies they may have. Whether books are a good idea depends on the degree of the person's cognitive dysfunction.
Relaxation aids: Things like relaxing music, aromatherapy products, and gentle massage tools can help with stress, and less stress means fewer symptoms! Do be cautious about scented or personal-care products (i.e. lotion, body wash) - a lot of us have sensitivities to those kinds of things, so only buy them if you know there's no sensitivity issue.
Illness-related books: If the person is newly diagnosed or really struggling with symptoms, a book about their illness could really help. Look for ones that offer real-life help and easy-to-understand information, and avoid those that promise cures.
New Addition -- Bath products: I saw an awesome bathtub tray recently, and with how often we take hot baths to warm up and relax our bodies, I thought something like that would be great! Also consider things like bath pillows or really soft body scrubbers.
It can also help to know what not to give! Here are gifts that may not be appropriate:
Exercise-related gifts: People with FMS and ME/CFS get tired of well-meaning suggestions that they exercise more, so unless you know an exercise-related item is something the person wants, don't go there!
Plants: While plants can help create a healthy and pleasant environment, anything that needs care is a bad idea for someone dealing with these illnesses.
Gift cards: If the person you're buying for has trouble driving or walking, gift cards are likely to go unused. If the person is comfortable shopping on the Internet, however, consider a gift card that can be used online.
Event tickets: Planning ahead is hard when you have an unpredictable illness. Tickets to a date-specific event may be hard for the person to use. Same goes for gift certificates with an expiration date.
Personal care products or anything scented: Because so many of us have sensitivities, unless you know the person well and know what they can tolerate, these are best avoided.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone with a chronic illness is your time. Perhaps you can offer to take your friend holiday shopping, help put up decorations, or do something else to help them prepare for the holidays!
Any other suggestions for gifts that are either thoughtful or inappropriate? Have you gotten a gift that left you angry, offended or shaking your head? Have you gotten something that you absolutely love?