My 7 Tips for Traveling With Chronic Illnesses

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Traveling with chronic illnesses can be hard and full of road blocks. These things can often prevent us from going out and having fun. To start getting comfortable with traveling, one option is to start with day trips close to home. A day trip is typically a trip where you leave in the morning, travel for a while, reach your destination and have fun and then travel home again. This set-up can be good for spoonies because there’s no staying overnight and less time spent on the road. But there can still be issues arising from this option, so the goal of this list is to help smooth out the issues so others with chronic illness can also enjoy getting out of the house.

1. Research: Find the website for the place you’re going and take a look around it. Try to see if it’s one floor or multiple floors, if it’s stairs or elevators or ramps, what kind of terrain, when it’s most popular and how many people go there. Click on all the links and see if you can find their accessibility/accommodations page. Some places will have services available or have wheelchairs for use. See if there’s a restaurant there. Find out how long it will take to get there and back. Look at reviews of the place and see what people think of it. Then look at any other thing that could interest you and your trip.

2. Plan: Planning can make a big difference. For me, planning helps calm my anxiety and gives me a solid foundation to set the trip on. Planning falls after I have done solid research. To plan, I take what I’ve learned and make it into a schedule. Remember that even the best planned schedule can change, so regard it as a loose guideline and not the law. If you regard it as set in stone, it could bring about anxiety and upset if something goes wrong.

Another thing to include in planning is the weather and what type of clothing to wear to avoid being uncomfortable and hot/cold away from your house.

 

3. Medical Supplies: Medical supplies can include medication, equipment, and mobility aids. Using the plan you made earlier can help you figure out what you can leave and what you can take. Taking the departure time from your plan shows the time you need to start having things packed; the return time is when you stop planning.

Let’s say I’m leaving at 10 a.m. and planning on being home at 8 p.m. And let’s say I take medication five times a day, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. I could also have treatments and evaluations I need to do throughout the day. And let’s say I also have as-needed medication I could possibly need. This means I should pack the equipment and medication that falls between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., but because my last medication is at 9 p.m., I should also bring that medication as well, just in case I don’t get home on time. I should also bring all my as-needed medication. My motto regarding this is: it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Lastly in this topic is mobility aids. This is a reason why research is so important. By researching, you can learn what the place is like for accessibility and what type of mobility aid you need to bring if you have multiple ones like I did. And if you don’t have a mobility aid but will need one, research can show if you can rent or borrow a wheelchair at the place.

4. Mental Health: Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and trips can be stressful. One option is to bring some calming things to keep you from getting overstimulated.

Some things I bring are: headphones/music, earplugs, a soft blanket, a book, and some type of fidget toy. Of course, you don’t need to bring these things, just whatever would make you comfortable.

5. Food and Drinks: Keeping water and snacks with you during a trip is a great idea. Being hungry or thirsty can create headaches and a worsening of symptoms, and that tends to make people cranky, and it’s hard to enjoy ourselves when we’re cranky. Also back-up food can be good to have if you have stomach issues and cannot eat what is at the place.

6. Support System: The difference between having the time of your life and a stressful, upsetting time can sometimes be who you have the experience with. Go with supportive, understanding people who will know how to help you if you need something and who will work with you.

7. Canceling: Know you can cancel if you don’t feel good, and know that having to go home halfway is OK. Being able to have a way out and not being pressured into staying the whole time if I feel like crap helps me feel better.

Editor’s note: Please consult a doctor for any questions or concerns you have regarding your health and traveling.

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6 Things You Should Know About My Life as a Spoonie

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Life with an invisible illness to anyone that doesn’t live with one is impossible to fully understand.

How can people who have an ordinary, well-functioning immune system possibly understand what life is like? The answer – they can’t.

I have created a list of daily issues that people with chronic illness go through to try to explain to people without our illnesses what life is like:

1. I am constantly in pain.

This is not the same pain that “non spoonies” have. It is an agonizing pain, that prevents me from socializing or going to work. I might not be able to stand up or sit down for long periods. I struggle to understand the pain myself sometimes. My pain normally starts in the tops of my legs, and depending on various factors, it can spread down in my lower legs, or into my back. On a really bad day, it will spread everywhere.

I can’t really describe the pain I get. Sometimes it feels like I have bugs crawling in my legs, other times it is a constant ache and sometimes it is a burning pain. I have been backwards and forwards with various aches and pains throughout my life to the hospital and doctors.

Some times the pain has meant I have been on crutches or had to use walking aids to help me. I also had to have three weeks off work recently for an unexplained pain in my foot. I have in the last month, I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Although this is not good news for me, in a way it feels good knowing that my pain is not “all in my head” and I am not imagining it.

2. I bruise really easily.

This isn’t great for someone like me who is very accident prone. I am constantly falling over, or banging into stationary objects. Doors and my feet are two of my favorite trip hazards. This means when a new bruise comes I am used to it, but I am constantly being asked, “Oh, have you seen that bruise there?” Yes, thanks for asking, I have.

3. My tiredness is not laziness.

The big problem for “spoonies,” is the constant tiredness. It is not laziness! Despite what people who think we can control our weight, by eating less and moving more, will tell you.

For me, it is a debilitating fatigue, caused by adrenal issues, or gut problems causing malabsorption. In fact, it is not even fair to describe it as tiredness.

It is an exhaustion that prevents us from going out and doing what we want to do, let alone what others want to do.

I have lost friends because of my fatigue. Sometimes on a bad day I can go to bed at 9 p.m. and not wake until 3:30 p.m., and even then I still only feel like I have had 30 minutes restless sleep.

I want to go out and be with my partner, my family and friends, but most of the time it takes all my energy just to get off the sofa or out of bed.

4. Frequent, non-frequent or painful toilet trips.

As someone who has been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome since I was a teenager, and most recently diagnosed as a celiac, toilet trips are a problem for me. Sometimes it can take me ages, other times not so much.

This is very embarrassing, especially in situations where I am not in the comfort of my own home.

I remember a time when I was about 18 or 19 years old. I had gone out to a nightclub with friends. I was having a great time, when all of a sudden that familiar feeling in my stomach reared its ugly head. The cramping and pain. I needed to go but the queue for the girls bathroom was absolutely chocka.

“What do I do?” I kept thinking to myself. I stood in the queue and just prayed silently in my head for the queue to go down quickly. Fortunately it did, and I got in the cubicle and did my “business.” However, there were at least 15 girls still in the bathroom checking their hair and makeup. I had been in the cubicle quite a while, and was in pain. Then, one girl banged and kicked my cubicle door, and very loudly and said, “WTF you doing in there, have you died?” and laughed. I said nothing. I didn’t want anyone to know it was me in there, so I lifted my feet off the floor and balanced them on the door, so that if anyone looked under the door they would think the door had just locked from the inside and no one was actually in there.

I was absolutely mortified because I knew that I was still going to be a while. If they had wanted to, the girls could have gone in to the neighboring cubicles and peered over in to mine.

I kept still, and didn’t make a sound. I was so concerned that someone might hear me breathe and then they would know I was in there. I wanted to fall down the toilet and vanish. Eventually the girls did leave, and I came out, in floods of tears because of the embarrassment. I didn’t even go back to find my friends. I walked straight out of the club and went home alone. My night had been spoiled. I promised myself I would never let that happen again.

5. Frequent, inconvenient and most of the time, pointless hospital or doctors visits.

This is a huge bug bear of mine. I can not choose when we are sick. When I am going to catch a cold, or a general bug, that completely shuts my immune systems down and makes me really ill. I understand that this is really inconvenient for my employer, but I can not help it.

I will have time off work.

I wish I could schedule myself around “normal life,” but it does not work like that. Sometimes it happens when I am out having fun and we have to go home, or go to hospital. I can only apologize.

I know, hand on heart, how annoying it can be for some. However, think how bad I feel being the person that keeps going to hospital appointments and being told:

“You’re fine.”

“Just take some antibiotics and go home.”

“Keep your fluids up.”

I am the patient, and I know when I do not feel right.

Many of us spoonies lost faith in the medical profession a long time. Of all the spoonies I have spoken to, it has taken them ages to get a diagnosis at all, and even when we are being monitored, and have researched what our optimum blood levels should be, the doctors still tell many of us that we are fine.

My hyperthyroidism was discovered purely by accident. I had been told from a young age that I had a virus in my blood but I was going to have to learn to live with it.

Then I was told I was borderline low thyroid. When I moved doctors, the nurse at a routine exam checked my pulse and asked, “Have you run here?”I laughed. I had driven and had been sat in the waiting room for 20 minutes. She repeated the test and my pulse rate went up. They referred me for a blood test and called me into the doctor the same day. I had hyperthyroidism and Graves’ disease, and my levels were sky high. Had it not found when it was, it could have killed me.

Maybe if the medical profession had monitored me more closely when I was younger, I would not have ended up as ill as I was.

I was also diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome from about 15 years old. I was given muscle relaxants for the pain and constipation, and told that nothing else could be done.

Hang on a minute, though. This month, I have just been diagnosed with celiac disease. Again, this is sounding like a familiar story. Maybe if the medical profession once again had monitored by stomachaches, and multiple trips to the hospital in agonizing pain, I would have been diagnosed with celiac sooner and not spent most of my life with terrible stomach pain.

If my celiac had been diagnosed sooner, it may have prevented my thyroid from malfunctioning in the first place, and I might not have had to have had it removed, as there is a strong link between thyroid and gastrointestinal problems.

It might also have meant that my gallbladder might not have started producing gallstones, if my gut was working properly and I was not eating gluten. I might not have needed to have my gallbladder removed. I am due to have a gut biopsy soon, so hopefully there has been no lasting damage caused by celiac not being found sooner.

6. We spoonies are still human beings, and the people that you knew before we got sick.

Do not forget us.

Support us.

Keep asking us out. We may not come, but still keep asking. One day we might!

If you do not understand something, ask us! Sometimes we do not know how to explain it very well ourselves, but we will try.

We are still the people, the family, the daughters, sons, friends and partners that you love. We just have an underlying problem that we can’t get rid of.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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How I Became Empowered After an Osteoporosis Diagnosis

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Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication.

The fickle nature of chronic illness has a way of leaving me feeling stuck and out of options. Many times, I can find a good work around to get myself out of the jumble of the day, but alas, sometimes circumstances really suck and become more than I can handle.

A few months ago, my endocrinologist wanted me to get a DXA scan. I had just had one a year prior, and even though it had shown minimal bone loss, I thought it odd that she wanted another one so soon. I saw her last month to go over the results. In less than 15 minutes, I was told I had osteoporosis in my spine, given a choice of two medications, and sent on my way.

I sat in my car and cried for a few minutes, and then I played the blame game. I blamed myself because of my crappy diet and non-existent exercise routine. I blamed myself for being cavalier with my calcium supplements. Then I got angry at Crohn’s for being a big jerk, and just for good measure, I cursed my temperamental, menopausal ovaries.

Once home and alone with my scrambled thoughts, I went straight to the computer and enrolled in “Freak Out 101” at “Google University.” I Googled osteoporosis, I Googled the medications… I Googled until I had about a dozen tabs open!

Full disclosure: this isn’t my first rodeo with bone density issues. About 14 years ago, when I was new to Crohn’s and all its wonderment, my gastroenterologists (GI) doctor was concerned about my Prednisone use and mal-absorption issues related to the Crohn’s and ordered a DXA scan. I was skeptical, but the scan confirmed osteopenia in my hips and osteoporosis in my spine.

He prescribed Actonel, a medication that most women don’t start taking until they are in their 60s. I was 37.

Actonel wreaked havoc on my upper gastrointestinal tract and caused esophageal damage. Enter protease pump inhibitors (PPIs), namely Prilosec. After two years my bone density improved and against medical advice, I stopped taking the Actonel. I could no longer tolerate the burning in my throat. I needed the PPIs for another six years. I was anxious to wean myself off of them because… they can interfere with calcium absorption and… drum roll please… may contribute to developing osteoporosis! That’s kind of fucked up.

Osteoporosis, my old friend, had returned and I had no clear picture of what my future might hold. My GI doctor and gynecologist have deferred to my endocrinologist, and the endocrinologist is pushing drugs (scary drugs). She is treating the osteoporosis, not my whole being. I pondered, “This medication can’t be my only option.”

I was stuck!

When I’m feeling this way, I like to recall a favorite lesson from my master’s program, “Life as a Rice Pot.” The rice pot is the symbol of movement; the creation of possibility, a synonym for life. Picture a covered rice pot sitting atop a flickering flame, contents simmering away. In time, the lid will start to jiggle and jump, steam will escape. Everything is moving in harmony as the once inedible rice is transformed into nourishment. Not enough heat and nothing happens, too much heat and the whole thing might blow.

So I sat quietly and thought, “I think I may have stopped paying attention to my rice pot and let it boil over. Now the flame is out and nothing is moving.” I didn’t know where to begin. Then it hit me. This is my life, my health, and my rice pot; I knew what I had to do. I re-lit the flame by making a phone call and asking for help.

My insurance company has an “ask a nurse” number. I called and as coherently as I could, I explained my situation. That I collect chronic illnesses like someone might collect sea shells and that my latest diagnosis and drug options had me at a loss. I discovered they have a case management program and that I would qualify.

That call led to another call and I now have a nurse case manager that is helping me manage my care. She connected me to a pharmacist so I could ask about other drug options. I have spoken with a social worker that has helped me find a therapist. (Houston, we have simmering!) I also started physical therapy and have been learning safe and smart exercises for balance and core strength.

While this flurry of activity has been time consuming and tiring, it has also been empowering and a big boost to my confidence. The phone calls, appointments, and exercise have forced me to put myself and my body front and center, back into my awareness. It’s a lot of work, tending this rice pot. I am doing it and I am worth it!

Follow this journey on Write Down the Middle.

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8 Tips to Help You on Your Chronic Illness Journey

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I’ve seen the question, “Well, what can chronically ill people do to make their lives, their friendships, their appointments and their happiness better? Surely there are things they can do, too?!”

Yes. Absolutely! No one is perfect, and having your body and health tossed into the world of chronic illness and pain is never graceful, never easy and never without things that the person could have handled better.

There is no handbook on how to be a good, thriving, severely ill person.

Sadly.

So, mistakes are made. Improvements can be made. Lessons are learned. And no two situations are the same.

However, here are a few things that I’ve been working on, myself. It’s a constant work in progress. I’ve been sick my entire life, and that doesn’t mean I’m an expert at this. People who are newly chronically ill will struggle. Bottom line. Because it is never easy.

1. Make a conscious effort to retain the essence of who you are. This includes your sense of humor, your interests, passions, and your relationships. It will take more work. There will be days where your body will not allow you any extra mental or physical stamina to be the person you are at your core. But don’t let that become the new you. You are so much more than illness and pain. Adjustments will have to be done. Compromises will have to be made. You will have to work at it. Imagine working to remain interested in the things that make your soul sing. It won’t always be easy. But, in my opinion, it is essential to maintaining happiness and maintaining relationships.

2. Find a support system. People who will let you vent when you are upset and scared, but will also help you remember the things you love about life. Who will help you laugh. A support system where you can be all of you who are is very important, because you are changing. Chronic illness will change who you are. It doesn’t take away the essence of who you were, but it adds new dimensions and alters the old ones.

3. Don’t play the “who is sicker than who” game. It doesn’t matter. Sick is sick. It always sucks. We all need support when sick. It’s never easy. And there is no way to compare something like this. It’s unfair to you and to others you compare to.

4. Learn who to not talk to about the serious stuff. There will be people in your life who are not supportive. They will drain you. When you go to them for help, and they hurt you instead, take heed of that.

You matter! Having someone tear you down when you need them the most, and then expecting them to be there for you the next time, is essentially knowingly putting yourself and your health through additional stress. Some people simply don’t have it in them to be who you need them to be. You can’t force it. You deserve to share your soul with people who will be kind to it.

5. Make a point to see the positives around you, as well as the negatives. It’s normal to have moments of self-pity and despair, but it will not only harm your relationships, it will harm you and your quality of life – if you let it become the entirety of who you are.

6. Ask for what you need. People aren’t mind readers. If you need physical or mental support, please ask for it. Be specific. Choose someone you know you can trust if it’s something personal, but definitely make your needs known. Don’t be ashamed of them. We all have things that we need adapted around for us.

7. Allow love and joy to be a stronger force in your life than fear and bitterness. If you are struggling with this, it’s perfectly normal, but a therapist can really help you work through these feelings so that you benefit in the end. How can you help your body if you are unhappy and bitter?

8. Be involved with your medical decisions. Ask your doctor questions. Speak up about your concerns. Become an active member in your health management.

These are just some things that I personally have found to be important to enriching my life. If you have others, I’d love to hear them! Sending my love to all who are dealing with chronic illness and pain. It’s not an easy journey. Together we can help each other.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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Sick woman lying in bed

What You Should Know About My Illness If You Wish You Had My 'Leisure Time'

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Today I was watching “Dr Phil.” It was an old episode about a study showing how stay-at-home moms have more leisure time than they think. Granted, some of the definitions given for “leisure” were quite unusual (getting a root canal if alone?), but the basic theme of the show was redefining how we spend our time and if being busy is really the status symbol we think it is.

I believe it’s not, and be careful what you wish for. The fact of the matter is, I am tired of people saying that they wish they had more time. Even more, I am sick of them saying they wish they had the free time I have. Because seriously people, you really do not want the free time I have. Let me tell you why…

1. I do not live a life of leisure. My schedule is filled with doctor’s appointments with life sprinkled in between. Today I was supposed to take my dog to the vet. But I wasn’t feeling good. So I had to cancel it. Now I get to try to fit it in between an eye appointment, where I just might get a lumpy thing removed, and my nerve conductivity test, yup — shooting electricity through my arms to measure how much of it gets to my brain (sort of). Such is my life.

 

2. Even when I have leisure time, I can’t “leisure.” It’s true. The days I spend at home doing nothing, I can’t usually relax. I’m either in too much pain, hence the reason for being home in the first place, or I’m trying to to get some sort of house cleaning done. And since my house is a complete wreck, I usually make very little progress.

3. If I do get to leisure, it usually gets wrecked anyway. Since my disease is unpredictable at best and comes on quickly at times, I can be out having fun one minute and unable to breathe looking for a chair the next. I bring my cane and water everywhere but it’s not always enough. Last week, I suddenly became dizzy and nearly fell over trying to sit back down at my volunteer position. I cuddle kittens. Kittens! Not exactly physically demanding.

4. When none of the above happen, I’m usually too exhausted to enjoy leisure. Either that or I really can’t decide what on earth to do. I do love to read but can’t count the times I have fallen asleep with a book. I watch a horrifying amount of movies. Twice. Because I literally cannot remember the ending. So you tell me, does sleeping count as a leisure activity?

Like I said, be careful what you wish for. I was diagnosed when my second child was born. I was never in the position to over-schedule myself and then wish for more time to relax. I only had enough in me to allow them to pick an activity and drag myself to it and then wish I needed less time. Less time for me. Less time for doctors. Less time for hospitals. Less time needing to rest. And more time running around with my kids.

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Electric Can Opener and Food Steamer

21 Products That Can Make Cooking Easier if You Have a Chronic Illness or Disability

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Whether you have a disability, chronic condition or mental illness, some days, standing in the kitchen and cooking a complete meal just isn’t going to happen.

On days like this, you may choose to order in, warm up some pre-prepared food or ask a loved one to cook instead. However, if you want to cook, there are a number of tools which can make your life and cooking easier.

We asked The Mighty community which products they use to make their time in the kitchen easier. Here are their recommendations. 

 

Just so you know, we’ve selected these links to make shopping easier for you. We do not receive any funds from purchases you make.

1. A Slow Cooker

Want a home cooked meal but don’t want to spend hours bent over your stove? Let a slow cooker do all of the work instead. Slow cookers work by cooking your ingredients at a low temperature for a longer period of time.

“My slow cooker is a godsend. Just put the meat, veggies, stock and herbs in, switch it on and later in the day — a healthy homecooked meal is ready with minimal effort,” Tania Sherley told The Mighty.

Buy the crockpot above for $26.99 on Amazon

2. Something to Sit On

Maybe you’re feeling well enough to cook, but you know you aren’t going to be able to stand for an hour. “I have a kitchen chair that I use to sit in while cooking in front of the stove if I need to stir fry,” Normala DeLaney shared.

Buy the kitchen stool above for $46.08 on Amazon

3. Something Soft to Stand On

Whether it’s memory foam slippers or a cushy kitchen mat, standing on something soft can help you if sitting in your kitchen isn’t an option.

“I have found that wearing my memory foam flip flops on a floor mat that is like memory foam material helps me when I have to stand over the stove.” Jeannette Blaniar wrote.

Buy the kitchen mat above for $37.95 on Amazon

4. A Lap Tray

Swap your kitchen counter with a lap tray and you can prep food from any room in your house.

I have a lap tray so I can chop veggies, peel potatoes and do all the prep work sitting comfortably on the couch,” Tara Slade-Hall said. “Throw everything in a giant pot, and freeze when done. No standing, less pain and I’m prepared for the bad days!”

 Buy the tray above for $14.99 on Amazon

5. A Good Knife

If you’re going to spend time doing meal prep, you might as well have the best tools at your disposal.

“Buy a good knife,” Kayti Rowlett shared. “We invested in a few and it makes it easier to prep.” 

Buy the knife set above for $51.00 on Amazon

6. An Instant Pot

Similar to a slow cooker, the Instant Pot works by making cooking a hands-free process. Just add your ingredients, set a timer and wait for your food to be prepared.

It used to be my slow cooker, but often I’m not functional enough in the morning to remember to get it started,” Sarah Slosson said of making the switch. “The Instant Pot lets me get things together at the last minute and still get it done in time.”

Buy the Instant Pot above for $99.00 on Amazon

7. Products With a Good Grip

If you have trouble with your joints, products with a good grip can help you maintain command of your kitchen.

“Anything good grips,” Erin Bowers advised. “They are worth the investment. It becomes much easier with my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) hands.”

Buy the jar opener above for $9.99 on Amazon

8. A Food Processor

Whether you are pureeing ingredients for a sauce or preparing vegetables, a food processor makes painstaking prep work a thing of the past.

“Using a food processor and veggie chopper for prep work and to cook helps so much,” Leslie McMillan wrote.

Buy the food processor above for $29.85 on Amazon

10. An Electric Skillet

Give yourself more room to cook and cut down on cleaning time with an electric skillet or griddle. Community member Kelly Biery said she lives by her electric skillet, especially during the summer months.

Buy the electric griddle above for $26.99 on Amazon

11. Disposable Cutlery and Dishes

Maybe you have the time and energy to cook but know doing the dishes just isn’t going to happen. Buying disposable products might not be the most cost-effective option but can save you time when it comes to cleaning up. If you are worried about the environmental impact of plastic cutlery or paper plates, many brands make biodegradable or wooden options.

“I go to the dollar store for cheap plastic utensils and paper items I can just throw out to avoid messy cleanup,” Carissa Haston explained.

Buy the wooden forks above for $10.99 on Amazon

 

12. A Food Steamer

There are lots of options when it comes to steaming your food. You can get a vegetable steamer basket, buy vegetables that come in a steamer bag that you can cook in the microwave or purchase a device that steams your food for you.

The Mighty community member Julie Gibson recommends a microwave steamer along with microwave meals for low-energy days.

Buy the steamer above for $19 on Amazon

13. A Cast Iron Skillet

Some of the best cooking products are those you don’t have to spend hours soaking or scrubbing, such as a cast iron skillet.

“My, possibly unexpected, tool is my cast iron skillet. It’s too heavy for me to lift on bad days, but the beauty is it doesn’t need to be cleaned aside from a wipe down with a damp paper towel to get the worst of the grease and food bits,” Sarah Burroughs Bouchard wrote. “It gets hot real quick and holds the heat so I can turn off the stove early to avoid forgetting about the flame or gas if I’m brain fogged. Bonus is it imparts extra iron into my diet, which I’m always in short supply of.”

Buy the cast iron skillet above for $29.99 on Amazon

14. A Grill

Whether it’s a portable grill or a grill for your backyard, grilling is a quick and easy way to cook a complete meal — protein, vegetables and carbs — with minimal clean-up.

“The grill is good because there are no pots and pans,” Tracy Jewell wrote.

Buy the indoor grill above for $24.96 on Amazon

15. A Blender

Maybe you have time to cook but you just don’t have much of an appetite. Smoothies, protein shakes and blended soups can be a fitting swap on days where eating is difficult.

Community member Rachel Goodsell recommends using an immersion blender and pressure cooker to make simple soups. “My pressure cooker also saves a lot of time and also requires minimal chopping, particularly when making a soup that I can blitz with a stick blender after cooking.”

Buy the immersion blender above for $39.99 on Amazon

16. A Mixer

Similar to a blender and a food processor, a hand or stand mixer can make food prep easier and less time-consuming.

Ashley Davies uses her hand mixer to make mashed potatoes. “A trick I learned for mash potatoes: Boil spuds as usual then use a hand electric mixer, like you would use for cakes. [It’s] the smoothest most delicious mash with no sore hands, wrists and arms!”

Buy the hand mixer above for $14.96 on Amazon

17. An Electric Can Opener

Don’t let issues with dexterity keep you from buying canned goods — not when you can use an electric can opener to do all of the hard work for you.

Matthew Tyrrell recommends an electric can opener especially for those who have arthritis in their hands.

Buy the can opener above for $27.99 on Amazon

18. A Vegetable Chopper

There are lots of options if you don’t want to cut or slice your vegetables by hand. If you are looking to slice vegetables, go for a mandoline. Cut onions? Choose a vegetable chopper. Or, if you want to turn your vegetables into noodles, pick a spiralizer instead.

“Using a food processor and veggie chopper for prep work and to cook helps so much,” Leslie McMillan wrote.

Buy the mandoline above for $14.99 on Amazon

19. A Vacuum Sealer

Cooking in bulk? You’re going to want a vacuum sealer to preserve all of your hard work and keep your food fresh for longer.

“I batch cook on good days and then freeze portions,” Kathleen Hanney-Cerquone explained. “Vacuum sealing is the best way to make efficient use of freezer space and keeps things fresh for months, sometimes years.”

Buy the vacuum sealer above for $34.97 on Amazon

20. An Electric Peeler

Peeling potatoes might not feel like such a chore if you have an electric peeler. Like an electric can opener and other slicing and chopping devices, an electric peeler can save you valuable time and energy. Plus, it won’t aggravate your joints.

Cindy Huxtable recommends using an electric peeler in addition to an electric chopper for all your food prep needs.

Buy the electric peeler above for $19.95 on Amazon

21. A Toaster Oven

Like a microwave, a toaster oven can make cooking pre-prepared foods a breeze. Plus, a countertop oven eliminates having to bend over like you would a regular oven.

“Anything I can pop in the toaster like Toaster Strudels, bagels, Velveeta grilled cheese sandwiches or the frozen PB and J sandwiches.” Carisa Haston explained.

Buy the electric peeler above for $62.84 on Amazon

Have a product you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

21 Products That Can Make Cooking Easier if You Have a Chronic Illness or Disability
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