The big day is almost here and whilst there are impressive and organised people out there, there are also some (like me!) who are still frantically scouring the shops and the internet for those last minute perfect presents. So what do you do if you’re trying to find the perfect present for someone suffering with chronic pain? I reached out to the amazing Facebook community to ask for their best ideas for a fantastic present.
Many pain sufferers really struggle with the cold, so a heated blanket to snuggle under could be the perfect wintery treat. I have the Dreamland Relaxwell Deluxe Washable Slate Grey Faux Fur Fast Heat Electric Throw and it is MARVELLOUS. It lives by my reclining chair and is known as The Bear and is the scene of a constant battle between myself, the animals and the child as it’s so wonderful. It’s a bit pricey though, so if you’re after a more affordable (but still well-reviewed) option, then the Dreamland Relaxwell Luxury Heated Throw is hugely popular. It’s also got a fleecy feel, which is good for anyone who doesn’t like the feel of faux fur.
If you only want to use heat on a certain part of your body, a heating pad can be a great idea. I particularly like the Dreamland Intelliheat Heated Cape; buttoned up, you can wear it as a cape to warm your neck, shoulders and upper back. Unbuttoned, it becomes a heating pad you can use practically anywhere. I bought one for my mum who has both neck and lower back pain and frankly, I think she’d come after me with a pitchfork if I tried to borrow it.
If you vary between needing to apply hot and cold to your painful areas and you’re on a small budget, these reusable hot/cold packs could be helpful and are under a tenner as I type. You can pop them in the freezer to cool or heat them in the microwave, and as long as you follow the instructions they should last for years. It might not be a glamorous present, but it’s probably a very useful one, although CRPS sufferers should be aware that they should never ice a CRPS limb.
If you’d like to get your loved one something that’s still useful but maybe a bit more fun, then there are lots of ideas out there.
Distraction can be really helpful in battling a pain flare. Many people take up crafting as a way of taking their attention away from the pain, and there are wonderful books out there on how to learn a new skill, like Aneeta Patel’s Knitty Gritty (the book I used to learn how to knit!) or this one which teaches you How to Draw. Bundle the book with some basic supplies like art pencils, or yarn and some needles and you have a winning gift for a crafty person!
If you’re buying for a film buff, a subscription to a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video could be a lifesaver; I’ve lost count of the number of series I’ve binged at 3am when the painsomnia kicks in! An Amazon Prime subscription also comes with the added benefit of unlimited one day shipping on thousands of products within the UK which can be absolutely brilliant if pain stops you from getting out of the house much; in our household we use it at the absolute minimum once a week for everything from suntan lotion to cake decorations to books to dog food. Without getting political, I’m not a fan of many of Amazon’s policies, but when I’m bedridden and suffering, convenience has to trump my principles!
Another great fun hobby that many of my friends love is doing adult colouring books. They’ve exploded in popularity, and now you can get ones featuring anything from animals to mandalas to Harry Potter. The artwork is stunning and when completed, they form beautiful works of art. Many people also find that they really help with stress. Package a book with a pack of felt tips and you’ve made a present pretty much anyone would love to receive.
The best presents
Having said all that though, all many pain sufferers want is to feel just like everybody else, at Christmas or any other time of the year. And that sometimes means that they don’t want to be reminded of their pain, however well-meaning the gift may be.
So, if you’ve got a loved one who’s really struggling with pain and none of the things I’ve suggested so far seems quite right, then maybe buy them something that is completely different. Something completely unconnected to their illness, something that’s just fun and ridiculous and will make them smile. Buy them a beautiful personalised birthstone necklace. Or a game where someone has to throw felt poos at their head (yes this really exists and yes I really did buy it for my husband last year. It was epic.) Or get them matching BFF sweaters for them and their dog. Or, if you’re feeling really flush, you can never go wrong with diamonds (Ben, are you reading this? Please forgive me for throwing felt poos at your head). Or if you happen to be Richard Branson or a Premier League footballer, could I recommend a personal chef or a trip to a private island?
And actually, the simplest and best thing you can give might just be that of being a friend. Many people with chronic pain feel that they lose friends when they become ill; our chronic pain can take away so much of our lives, meaning we can’t get out and see people and socialise like we used to. There are a lot of us who would love nothing more than to NOT get a present, if it meant that instead, you spent the time that you would have spent shopping in just popping over for a cup of tea or picking up the phone. That may well be the very best present you can give a chronic pain sufferer this Christmas; and best of all, it’s free, easy and literally anyone can do it.
I wish you all a joyfully happy low-pain Christmas and here’s to a happy and healthy 2020 for us all!