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6 Perfect Gifts to Give Someone With Gastroparesis for Christmas

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Having gastroparesis, a chronic digestive motility disorder, can make holidays very tricky indeed, since so many treasured festive rituals revolve around food and many people with gastroparesis have strict dietary restrictions (ranging from “no meat” to “nothing at all, tube-fed” to help manage symptoms). I’ve also noticed it presents an interesting conundrum for my family and friends when they try to get my Christmas gifts; I can’t exactly eat the stockings full of chocolate my dad typically puts out for my brother and I.

Here are six gift ideas that someone with gastroparesis will actually appreciate and use:

1. A wedge pillow. As someone with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a complication of my severe idiopathic gastroparesis, I can honestly say getting a wedge pillow changed my life. I am not exaggerating for dramatic effect. It helps keep your head elevated so that stomach acid doesn’t work its way up your esophagus while you’re sleeping – for someone with delayed gastric emptying and the associated heartburn, this could honestly revolutionize how comfortable it is to sleep.

2. A nice water bottle. I’m sure anyone with gastroparesis (who isn’t tube- or TPN-fed) will appreciate the struggle of staying well-hydrated. Having a pretty water bottle to keep by your side is a great reminder to sip water throughout the day; plus it’s a great gift!

3. A hot water bottle. Two types of water bottles? Yup! Hot water bottles are fantastic during the winter months, but they’re also great for people with gastrointestinal conditions who experience abdominal pain or nausea. They’re soothing, comfortable and help ease any type of cramp or discomfort. Some people like the hot packs you can heat up in the microwave, but personally I find the smell of those nausea-inducing. I think a hot water bottle is a much safer bet.

4. Pajamas and slippers. I think this suggestion is universal for anyone who has a chronic illness and spends a significant amount of their time at home, either sleeping or experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Whenever I’m experiencing a bad gastroparesis flare, I inevitably end up going days without stepping outside, and alternate between my designated “sleeping pajamas” and “day pajamas.” A new pair of cozy PJs, fun slippers, cozy socks or a luxurious bathrobe are all great ideas for someone who goes through periods of not being able to leave the house.

5. A pharmacy gift card. Again, this might be universal for anyone with a chronic illness, but I spend so much money on Gravol, Tylenol, Robax heating patches, Proferrin, Pepto Bismol, meal replacement drinks like Boost and other over-the-counter medications to manage my symptoms that a gift card to the local pharmacy is always appreciated and put to great use. One year, my dad even put my favorite type of Gravol in my stocking!

6. Bath and shower products. Mud masks, fun scented shower gels, soothing body lotion – all great pampering gifts! After getting back from a trip to the emergency room or spending three consecutive days in bed, taking a shower is always the first thing I do (partially to not be disgusting, but also to help perk me up and make me feel human again). Smelling like gingerbread is definitely preferable to smelling like the hospital, and it’s a great way to show someone you’re thinking about them and want them to treat themselves and relax. In the same vein, lip balm is always a crowd pleaser for anyone who spends a significant amount of time vomiting and is therefore perpetually dehydrated.

Happy holidays, everyone!

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Originally published: December 9, 2016
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