Stress Relievers Make Perfect Gifts for Patients and Caregivers

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by Colleen Steele |

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What is the main thing that patients and caregivers have in common? I believe the answer is stress. Therefore, one of the best gifts you can give them is something to help them relax.

Gift cards are a way of doing that. During endless days of clinic appointments or hospital admissions, it is so helpful, financially and emotionally, to have the gift of a meal, a coffee, a movie, a gas fill-up, a supermarket run, or another time- or stress-saving option waiting for you in your wallet or purse.

If someone wants to gift you with something other than plastic, following are some thoughtful gifts that were well received.

At Christmas, a funny video was shared on social media about a family that received endless awesome gifts, but the mom kept repeating, “And I got a robe!”

Guess what my husband got me for Christmas? Honestly, I love it! My robe is soft, warm, and cozy. It helps me relax, and it is a perfect gift.

Cullen sports a new Superman robe a month after transplant in 2014. (Courtesy of Colleen Steele)

When recovering from transplant, my son Cullen received a robe in the mail from family friends. It put an instant smile on his face. Our last name is Steele, so throughout Cullen’s pulmonary hypertension and transplant journey, people fondly referred to him as “The Man of Steel.” So, what’s better than having a Superman robe? Cullen’s laughter was a great stress reliever, and the robe was “super” comfortable.

Sending a care package of essentials can also have a soothing effect. During my son’s transplant recovery, I received a care package filled with scented soaps, shampoos, and deodorant. This was a great gift idea for someone who often showers in small, cold, community hospital bathrooms. Sometimes the simplest pleasures make the greatest gifts.

A care package for the caregiver, Colleen, in 2014. (Courtesy of Colleen Steele)

There are also gift options that advertise the promise of relaxation. I recommend a little research because everyone has different needs. My husband gifted me with more than a robe. Knowing how I carry all my stress in my neck and upper back, he bought me an electric heated shiatsu massager that focuses on those two areas. I only wish I received it years ago.

Jen Cueva, a fellow columnist and forums moderator here at Pulmonary Hypertension News, shared that her husband surprised her with a heated vest for Christmas. A common symptom among those living with PH is the struggle to stay warm. This thoughtful gift was a big hit with Jen.

It reminded me of the homemade, microwavable, cloth corn bags a friend sent to Cullen during his transplant recovery. Not only did they help control his chills, but they also soothed his aches and pains from surgery and his migraines from medications.

Some people are good at thinking “outside the box” when gifting. PH News forum member Robin Webster has fought PH for more than seven years, in addition to a long list of coexisting conditions. Her husband, Michael Webster, gave her a perfect stress relief present that not many would have considered — a paintball gun!

Robin readies for some paintball stress relief last year. (Courtesy of Robin Webster)

In the PH forums, Robin shared how she and her husband attended a paintball zombie-shooting hayride for Halloween a couple years ago, and she got a kick out of it. Things were happening in her life that were out of her control, and she often felt stressed and angry. Michael thought harmless paintball shooting would help relieve some of that, and according to Robin, “He was so right!” Michael was even thoughtful enough to buy washable ammo pellets in her favorite color of teal blue.

In an interview via email, Michael shared his own emotions. “I’m scared of losing her,” he wrote. “I see the stress that her health puts on her and that scares me, but she’s a very strong woman.”

It was obvious that finding the perfect gifts for Robin was important to Michael. He combined the paintball gift with an online course in yoga and meditation. Robin had taken the yoga classes in the past and mentioned that the instructor’s voice had a calming effect on her. He wanted her to experience that again.

Michael said Robin always gives 100 percent of herself to everything she does. He added that she is always upbeat and worries more about other people than herself. But Michael is aware of the mental strain his wife’s health places on her, so he bought her gifts that might ease her state of mind and help her relax.

Seeing his wife smiling and happy is a gift Michael cherishes. He explained, “I don’t want anything, I just want her.”

If you are a patient or caregiver and asked what sort of gift you would like for a holiday, special occasion, or care package, perhaps you can simply say, “Relax me.” You might be pleasantly surprised by what people come up with.

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Note: Pulmonary Hypertension 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 Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.

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