Like many people with chronic illness, my life is shaped by fatigue, pain, and mobility issues. However, mast cell “allergies” or triggers present unique challenges with life threatening consequences. As a result, most people are downright scared to give me a gift.
Well, technically everyone. On my birthday this year. I’m not bitter.
So here is my gift guide for people with mast cell disease. Because I think we deserve gifts!
- Delivery services
My favorites are Amazon Prime and Instacart. Leaving the house is difficult for people with mast cell disease. Delivery services allow us to avoid a myriad of triggers, while getting what we need.
- Air filter
The most expensive item on my wishlist is an Austin Air Filter. I have one in my enclosed office at work, creating a safe space for me to breathe.
- Extra long phone charger(s)
These are especially helpful in the hospital, where phone batteries usually die and the outlets are far from the hospital beds. It’s great to have more than one charger to stash in different places.
I always carry a Vogmask in my purse to filter out chemicals, smoke, and pollen. It’s great to have more than one design to choose from! I prefer the Medium + size. If you get a mask that is too small, you will struggle to breathe.
- Epsom salt or magnesium oil
Epsom salt baths are not only relaxing, but they can soothe muscles and reduce swelling. Most people with mast cell disease can tolerate pure Epsom salt (no added ingredients), although we need to be careful with water temperature (not too hot). If someone has a sulfate sensitivity (not to be confused with sulfite), I recommend magnesium chloride oil or flakes.
Winter is coming and every year it destroys my sensitive skin. Vanicream was developed at the Mayo Clinic, and is my personal favorite moisturizer.
- Books, music, and movies
These gifts help us pass the time, escape our realities, and sometimes find inspiration. Subscription services are great if you’re unsure of the recipient’s taste. I particularly like Audible, because audiobooks are perfect for when I can’t focus my eyes or sleep.
Gifts of love and support
- Cards with handwritten notes
Sometimes it’s easier to write the touchy feely stuff than say it aloud. I cherish cards much more having been through tough experiences with mast cell disease.
- Homemade gifts
Particularly those we can admire from our couch or bed, where we spend most of our time. Consider incorporating our favorite colors, or quotes.
- A framed photo or art piece
Remind us what we are fighting for! Beauty, inspiration, nostalgia.
- Toys for pets
Most spoonies I know have pets that are incredible companions. We find joy in making our pets happy.
The no-no list:
- Anything that smells
- Anything containing health advice
- Clothes, beauty products, or jewelry
- Gift cards to stores we cannot enter due to allergies or mobility issues. If you’re going to give a gift to an online store, please consider the shipping fee.
There are exceptions if you’re willing to put in extra time and energy! For example:
- Buy a few clothing items for the recipient to choose from and offer to return/exchange what doesn’t work. Soft, loose clothing is best.
- Restock their favorite products. Take the time to find out exactly what they enjoy most.
- Fulfill a specific request. When in doubt, ask! We are thrilled when people want to learn more about our illness and help!
Whatever you do, don’t make us feel guilty if your gift makes us sick. Sometimes our triggers change and we are surprised as you are. Thoughtfulness, flexibility, and communication goes a long way with mast cell disease.
Please note, this is a general guide. Not everyone with mast cell disease will benefit from all of these gifts. Our triggers vary by individual.
So I am curious to know, what is on your wish list? Let me know in the comments!