The Mighty Logo

A Holiday Wish List for the Chronically Fatigued

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I adore Christmas; it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Last year, however, I was left wondering if I’d somehow ended up on Santa’s naughty list as I was gifted with the unholy trinity of flu, pneumonia and, ultimately, chronic fatigue syndrome.

This year, taking my current health into account, I’ve developed a somewhat specialist Christmas list. If your loved ones are currently living with a chronic condition such as mine, here are a few suggestions as to what they might like to find under the tree come Christmas morning:

1. Food

Preferably something that will freeze easily and then heat from frozen in either the microwave or oven, for all those days when the effort of walking from sofa to kitchen is enough to make them consider going on a fast. It doesn’t need to be homemade. It doesn’t need to be healthy. It doesn’t even need to taste particularly nice. It just needs to be edible and it will be hugely appreciated.

2. Wheelchair accessories

If you’ve never used a wheelchair, you probably haven’t realized how cold it can get just sitting there. Thick socks, knee length boots and thermal underwear are all well and good, but what your friend really needs is a lovely thick blanket. Or maybe one of those fleece-lined sleeping-bag type things. The first time I went out in my wheelchair I refused a blanket through some misplaced sense of how I might look. Thirty minutes and a minor case of frostbite later, I ate my words (and promptly borrowed the husband’s jacket to wrap around my legs).

If your loved one is able to use a self-propelled wheelchair (hopefully with more success and control than I’ve managed to master so far), then some kind of storage facility (yes, I mean one of those bag-type sections that attaches to the back of the seat) would probably come in handy. As I have now discovered, it’s quite difficult to maneuver a wheelchair while simultaneously trying to balance a large handbag on one’s knee!

3. Pajamas

As the name would suggest, chronically fatigued people feel fatigued (we’ll not go into the details here; suffice to say, they’re perpetually exhausted). Years of research has (probably) gone into finding the most comfortable clothing to wear whilst one is tired. The answer is PJs and your loved one probably now experiences similar levels of excitement when opening a new pack of PJs as they used to do when trying on a new pair of high heels. It doesn’t matter if they already have drawers full. PJs are like handbags… a girl can never have too many.

4. Amazon (or any other online) shopping vouchers

Chances are your friend no longer has the energy or patience to do their shopping in the traditional sense. We like vouchers because we can shop in our own time, in bed, in our PJs (see point 3, above). They also come in handy for buying the huge variety of supplements we imbibe each day in the hope that our energy levels might improve.

5. Books – preferably ones that make us laugh

Although reading, as with any mental activity, eats into the sacred “energy envelope” of your chronically fatigued friend, it also provides a good way to pass the time without having to expend much physical energy (especially if you can find a willing volunteer to turn the pages for you). Books which make the reader laugh, preferably until they cry, get the old endorphins going and provide light relief in what can sometimes be a pretty miserable situation. I can highly recommend “My Dad Wrote a Porno” by Jamie Morton. Just make sure you provide a pack of tissues, too (for the tears of laughter).

6. Your time

For many people with chronic fatigue, their social life — including links with work — have inevitably shrunk and may even have withered into non-existence. This isn’t healthy for anyone and, while it might sound clichéd, the best gift you can possibly give to your friend is your time. Our illness may have taken away many things, but it hasn’t taken away our sense of fun, our desire to laugh (and see point 5, above), our love of gossip and our interest in the lives of others. Give us a call, send a message, contact us via social media, or — if possible — come and visit. Hopefully there’ll be a ready meal in the freezer we can share for dinner. Dress code: PJs.

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

Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 5, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home