There was a plan. I was going to be done with my Christmas shopping by December 1 and spend the next 24 days being completely relaxed (about the holidays, anyway - I am rarely completely relaxed). Then something happened and I’m still a bit confused.
The last thing I remember is that it was December 1, I wasn’t quite finished but could get there in a couple of days and now a it’s the 15th and yet again, the holiday stress is getting to me. And I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Whether it’s juggling work and seasonal parties while keeping your pain levels down to a dull roar, trying to find that perfect gift for someone you care about or doing everything you can to make time stop so you can catch up, we all need a helping hand at this time of year.
I can’t come to your house and cook the turkey for you, but I can give you suggestions for easy, last-minute gift ideas for people living with RA. Two years ago, I wrote a similar post with some higher ticket items and this year, I’ll be suggesting gift ideas that are not quite as expensive, some of them even free. Use them for your friends, your family or forward this post to your loved ones as a not-so-subtle hint.
A Healthy Care Package
Visit your local health food store to collect items that can work for RA. Get supplements like cod liver oil and vitamin D, topical pain relievers like oregano oil or Arnica gel and essential oils, e.g. peppermint oil is supposed to be good for pain. Include healthy snacks like brown rice chips or crackers, organic chocolate and cookies and maybe include a gift certificate so the recipient of your gift can go back to stock up on what they need. Place in a nice wicker basket or gift bag, dress it up with curly ribbons and you’re done
Who among us haven’t bought a bath package for someone who loves luxuriating in a bubblebath? This is like that, except with a focus on RA. Get the usual bath things, such a loofah, various forms of bubblebath and add candles, a homemade CD with relaxing music’s, ice packs, heat packs and some really yummy lotion. Consider adding a home paraffin bath with some paraffin cakes, as this can work wonders for aching hands and feet - they’re available at drugstores and on Amazon. If you’re feeling extravagant, add a fluffy towel or a nice throw. However, be careful about scented products - make sure you know if your recipient has asthma or is otherwise sensitive to fragrance or chemicals.
Books are always a great idea for gifts and there are a number of books about RA and living with chronic illness that can be a long-term help to someone who shares their life with RA:
First Year: Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed - a couple of years ago, I did an interview with M.E.A. McNeil, the author of this book and not only is she a wonderful human being, the book is one that I always recommend to people who have just been diagnosed. It’s a wonderful resource and learning tool and veterans of RA can learn much from it, as well.
I’d Rather Be Working - Gayle Backstrom has lived with a chronic illness for decades and knows how to make it work for her in terms of her career. This is an ideal book for people who may be considering changing careers because of their RA.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Kabat-Zinn is the founder of The Stress Reduction Clinic at the University Of Massachusetts Medical Clinic and has made it his mission to help people who have an illness live better lives. This is a terrific book that can help change the way you think of life with RA.
Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This is a short audio program that introduces the concept of mindfulness, as well as several lessons in meditation. Mindfulness and meditation can be essential tools in living well with RA.
Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope by Richard Cohen. Cohen interviewed five people living with different kinds of chronic illness and what emerged is a community in a book. Reading this can make you feel stronger, better about yourself and realize that you are not alone.
Juvenile Arthritis: the Ultimate Team Guide (It Happened to Me) by Kelly Rouba. A great book for older kids and teens about juvenile arthritis, Rouba’s book covers what the disease is, medical treatments, how to talk to your doctor, how to balance your disease with school, etc.
Often viewed a bit as a copout for the unimaginative, gift certificates can actually be a terrific idea. Give a gift certificate to Amazon and the person can get whatever they want without having to leave the house. A gift certificate to a pharmacy or drugstore can also be meaningful, especially if the person has a lot of medication costs - it’s a way of helping them get the treatment they need without offering charity. Grocery gift certificates can also be a big help for someone who is struggling financially and sometimes has to choose between rent and food or vital medication.
A Book of Coupons
A book of coupons can be one of the most meaningful gifts for someone who is having a bit of a rough time with their RA. I’m not talking about coupons from the local grocery store, this book is a highly personalized selection of however many coupons you want to give -5, 10, 20 - of help with tasks that can make someone’s life easier. A ride to a doctor’s appointment, babysitting, a homemade meal, dinner out to get away from it all - or a night of take out and a good movie to get away from it all when someone is having trouble leaving the house - help with yard work and/or housework and you get the idea. Since this is a gift, there is no guilt for the recipient in asking for help, instead they just cash in a coupon. The book of coupons can also be a great gift idea for kids who don’t often have a lot of money, but can with the help from another adult in the family make a gift that’s sure to warm a parent’s heart.
Do you have a good idea for a last minute gift? Please leave it in the comments!
Lene is the author of the award-winning blog The Seated View.
Lene Andersen is the Community Leader for HealthCentral’s RA Community. Lene (pronounced Lena) is an award-winning writer, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. She’s written several books, including Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain, as well as the award-winning blog, The Seated View. Follow Lene on Twitter @TheSeatedView and on Facebook. Watch her story on HealthCentral.