Monday, December 4, 2017

Safe Christmas Gifts For Mast Cell Disease and Allergic Conditions

There are snowmen and stockings, ornaments in red and green, and sparkling lights on every tree. The holiday season is upon us. Christmas is a time for giving. The elves spend all year preparing, but still, Santa lacks gift ideas for some of his most special recipients.

"I don't know what to get you when you're allergic to everything," practically summarizes the bane of my existence. Chronic illness, especially mast cell diseases, imposes restrictions on the type of gifts received. Whether its complications from scented products, diet changes, or chemicals sensitivities, giving and receiving is frustrating for both parties. Fortunately, with a little consideration and lots of love, there are many options to give your loved ones with an allergic condition.

  • Allergic to bath sets? Try non-scented products. 

Fragrances are undoubtedly the quickest way to take me down. I am sure it is the same for others diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease or allergic medical conditions. No 'Warm Vanilla Sugar' this year! Rather than the typical $5.00 bath sets that most regift, non-scented products are the way to go. 

There are a range of Free & Clear soaps, shampoos, and conditioners that are a household staple for allergic patients. I bet your loved one uses them, and you will definitely not unwrap it as a forgetful sentiment of kindness next Christmas. 
  • Allergic to cinnamon candles? Try a Vogmask. 

It was a woeful day when I realized I could tolerate the smell of Christmas no longer. The cinnamon-y aroma once aroused a sense of bliss. That is, until that holiday happiness was extinguished by the frightening sensation of my throat constricting. Bah humbug. 

With dangerous symptoms triggered by chemicals scents, masks are lifesavers. There is rarely a lack of need there, as the masks lose effectiveness around 3 months of use. Buying a replacement is thoughtful to prevent a case of the Christmas blues. 

  • Allergic to hot cocoa or coffee? Try a BPA/PVC/Latex Free thermos/bottle. 

Chocolate and coffee are up there in histamine levels. Although the gift is intended to be practical (because who does not love hot beverages in the cooler season?), I know that I would not be thanking anybody for the stroke-like episode I would go into if I unwrapped a mug with hot chocolate and its prepared toppings.

As a safer substitute, purchase a safe bottle to store water. Kleen Kanteen is awesome because it is free of a variety of plastic triggers that inevitably lead to cross contaminating a safe drink. 

  • Allergic to certain clothing fabrics? Try gift cards. 

Being allergic to clothing almost sounds like a joke. However, those who suffer from such a misfortunate are not laughing. There are clothing fabrics that do lead to allergic reactions for the extremely sensitive. Unless super involved in the loved ones daily life, it is likely you are unfamiliar with the specifics. Gifts cards completely bypass that potential issue. 

  • Allergic to paper in books? Try Kindle books. 

Each Mast Cell Disease patient is different. I do not experience a reaction from all books. The books with thicker, white paper do cause symptoms. A Kindle is a pricey gift for the typical friend, but chances are, your allergic loved one probably already has a reading tablet. Gift cards to purchase books are helpful. To make the gift more personal, accompany it with a list of book suggestions. 

  • Miscellaneous Gift Ideas

     1. Fuzzy Socks

A big, elaborate gift is not necessary. It is the thought that counts! Fuzzy socks are an ideal sidekick to sick time spent in bed. 

     2. DVD Sets

And with increased time spent in bed or on the couch, TV is a substitute for contact with the real world. My list of television shows is quite extensive. Friends with chronic illness can go on about favorite shows forever. Sometimes, rewatching old favorites is amusing. Box sets allow that to easily be done! 

    3. Craft/Hobby Kit

Learning a new craft is perfect for the moments TV does not suffice. 

   4.  Board Games

Games with family and friends are so so special when feeling up to it. As a bonus, they usually do not cause reactions - just let them briefly air out to off gas the chemicals from the plastic pieces and the gift is good to go!  

   5. Key Chains

Key chains are another simple gift idea with a low reaction possibility. I absolutely love to put keychains on the backpack that carries my infusions. They are also an accessory to the key for my CADD infusion pump. 

   6. Feeding Tube Pads

Not all patients with allergies are tube fed, but some are. If your loved one is a tubie, tube pads are a cute alternative to plain gauze to use as a feeding tube dressing. The price of a set is around $20.00-$25.00. My favorite shops for tube pads are: MyTubiesCloset, Milostones, and Julias G-Tube Pads

   7. Music 

CDs, is universal. It is comforting when really struggling with illness or other life matters. 

   8. Subscription Box Trial 

Monthly subscriptions are a unique surprise. Cater it towards your loved ones interests. 

   9. Blanket 

The sick and healthy alike have use for a blanket. The gift is sentimental, as well as practical. I cherish blankets that are given to me and I use them almost daily! 

To a patient with mast Cell Disease and allergic medical conditions, there is nothing more special than knowing our friends and family care enough to consider our safety. Regardless of the gift, abiding by the seemingly crazy stipulations of the disease is the perfect Merry Christmas!