FYI: if you purchase something through a link in this post I may receive a small commission, but it will not change the amount you pay for the item.
While gift-giving is common for special occasions and during the holiday season, people living with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) could use a little extra love year-round. Here’s a long list of items I use almost daily (I really have used all these items recently)! The prices I included are as of the date this was written:
Hot or cold?
1. This Sunbeam Quilted Heated Mattress Pad ($70) is a little on the expensive side, but the extra padding covers the wires so you can hardly tell they are there.
2. This moist heat Battle Creek Electric MaxHEAT Pad ($65) is also pricey, but after over two years of regular use mine is still going strong. The cover is washable. Be aware that this pad gets super hot!
3. This style of Hot and Cold Reusable Ice Pack ($7) has been around for a while, but it still works really well!
Things to wear
4. This funny “Ankylosing Spondylitis, not a dinosaur, but close” awareness shirt ($22) on Zazzle (ok, so I’m a little biased since I came up with the idea). Oh, and you can buy one for yourself too, because awareness.
5. These three-quarter-finger Imak Compression Gloves ($14) for painful, inflamed hands. I have like four pairs!
6. This 5-pack of really soft, stretchy, lightweight, yet very warm socks ($14). I’ve been wearing them around my apartment almost every day. And these Delicate F–king Flower socks ($10 – yes, there’s a swear word on them), because some days I need the reminder. Check out their other socks, too. They’re f–king amazing.
7. This Microplush Sherpa Blanket with Sleeves ($40) is like a Snuggie, but so much better. I’m 5’10” and this lightweight blanket covers even my feet when I’m sitting up in bed with my legs stretched out.
8. These Hatch Half-Finger Wheelchair Gloves ($24) for wheelchair-users. The gel padding on the palm and thumb is perfect. Make sure you get the right size or they won’t work properly.
9. A back support pillow with arms. Perfect for sitting up in bed without the awkwardness of haphazardly arranging multiple pillows behind you. I suggest getting one with a removeable, washable cover, like this one that’s taller-than-average ($35).
10. This Surpahs Non-Slip Bathtub Pillow ($14), because baths are nice but can get uncomfortable fast!
11. This BINO Cushioned Bathmat ($10). I keep mine in the bottom of the tub for comfort. The suction cups unstick themselves after they dry, which I like since it seems to prevent mold growth.
12. A reading/snacking bathtub tray. The one I have ($17 – it also happens to be the cheapest) comes with two wine glass holders and a candlestick holder (in case the power goes out?). I recommend wiping the whole contraption dry after each use so it doesn’t rust.
13. A cushioned lap desk, like this large, colorful one with a handle ($13). This is the ticket for people who like/need to read, draw, work on a laptop, or tackle insurance bills and appointment scheduling from their bed or a recliner.
14. A foam roller. I personally like my High-Density 36 inch one ($19) so it doesn’t tip me off while I’m using it.
15. This awesome, pretty unbreakable clear acrylic cane ($29). It should be trimmed at a hardware store unless it’s for someone fairly tall. The only downside is there is no padding on the handle, but I’ve seen some pretty fancy cane handle covers on Etsy. There are also these less-exciting really nifty folding canes ($12) that I carry with me almost everywhere.
16. Biofreeze ($10). Just make sure you don’t take a full bath in this stuff or you’ll be shivering through the night whispering, “Biofreeeze, biofreeeeeze, bioFREEEZE” over and over and over. Trust me, I’ve tried it. Don’t touch your eyes with it either. This stuff is hard to find in brick and mortar stores and comes in gel, spray, and roll-on form.
17. This really awesome stacking rainbow weekly pill sorter ($7). I like it so much I have three! It holds a pretty large number of pills and can be screwed closed as loosely as needed for arthritic hands.
18. These amazing keychain pill containers ($2 for 5). Before I knew these existed I would forget to take emergency pain medication on the go, but now I have a stash wherever I am. One of the best inventions ever.
19. A pill cutter ($5), because they really come in handy.
20. A tens unit. Mine is rechargeable and comes with replacement pads ($30).
21. A Theracane massager ($30). I discovered this contraption back when I was a professional mover; it is amazing because it gives the user complete control over the pressure and location of a personal massage in multiple areas of the the body.
22. A massage with a trained and certified massage therapist (bonus points if they know what AS is ahead of time)! This is one you’ll have to look up locally. Pro-tip: check first to make sure your loved one can actually tolerate massages.
Also, just because I want to prove that this post isn’t ALL about Amazon, gift cards to other places are also super awesome!
Finally, the most important gift:
27. A stuffed animal. Yes. A stuffed animal. I take my three-toed sloth ($13), named Remi (short for Remicade) to my infusions. Because I feel like a sloth there.
Many of the items on this list were gifts from people in my life! I hope this guide is helpful as you shop for that special person in your life who has AS, whether it is for a surprise care package or a gift under the tree. I want to stress that while these products are helpful for me, they won’t be helpful to everyone with AS. Perhaps you could ask your friend or loved one if they already have a wishlist somewhere and get them something you know they want.
Lastly, gifts come in many forms. I wrote about other ways you can support someone with Ankylosing Spondylitis in my last blog post: Your Friend Just Got Diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. What the Heck? I also gave a TEDx talk once about how to be a good friend: An Invisible Disease.
If there’s something I didn’t mention that helps you, please comment below.