36 Easy things that you can do to make the life of your chronically ill friend a bit better.


You do not need to spend a lot of money. You can be thoughtful in so many ways. The point is to do something, and do something today. I have listed below 36 easy ideas that anyone would appreciate. Sometimes it is hard for a patient to ask for help. Just do it! The hardest thing about chronic disease is that it is chronic. I had a friend who had a really bad flu and she received flowers that very week. With me – since I am sick all the time… I get nothing. Am I any less sick, sad, frustrated, lonely, or bored. NO, I need your love and support now more than ever. When everyone else forgets that I am still in this struggle with my illness….. please remember. It didn’t go away, I didn’t forget. I need you to be my friend.
Thank you to our readers and friends who helped us compile this list!
1. Buy nice pajamas appropriate for the illness and medical circumstance. For example, pajamas that are easy on/off for an elderly friend or someone who will be going in and out of tests. I like nice warm pajamas because I find hospitals are usually cold.

2. Rent or buy a portable DVD player with a selection of movies and headphones to use in the hospital (when they wake you up at all hours of the night or you can’t sleep. I personally had this loaned to me and I loved it. It helped pass the time so much to get into a movie!

3. Down pillows or any new pillows with fun pillow cases for comfort in the hospital and to also cheer up your hospital room or bedroom at home. Hospital beds are horribly uncomfortable and all the white and green sheets are very depressing. Just check what hospital rules are.

4. Cute socks with rubberized/non skid bottoms, since you often have to get up and walk around, but don’t want to put slippers on. There are so many cute pairs which are very inexpensive.

5. Soothing music Cd’s, and something to play them on (portable like a small CD player, or an MP3 player works well.)

6. Books on CD and a portable CD player and headphones. This works great, especially for patients with migraines or neurological issues, who might have trouble seeing the TV or reading a book.

7. Buy your loved one an Ipod or MP3 player and fill it with songs to make them happy. You can even make a “themed” tape. For example: songs for friends, songs to wake up to, etc.

8. Crossword puzzle/Soduku/ game magazines are great for kids and adults too.

9. Deck of cards. This is great for anyone. Trust me if you get lonely enough or can’t sleep, you can always play solitaire.

10. Hand held electronic games (gambling slots games, solitaire and blackjack are definite favorites. Although now a Nintendo DS and one of those brain games would be good or the old time favorite Tetris – if the budget allows).

11. Magazines that are personalized to the patients hobbies, tastes etc. Crafting books, politics, fashion etc.

12. Tube of unscented hand lotion and antibacterial lotion are two things that you can never have enough of. Lots of medications dry out the skin, so this is great. I also found baby wipes came in handy for quick freshen ups when I couldn’t hobble out to the bathroom.

13. Pretty diary – really good for pregnant women (anyone really) to write down what is going on, keep track of Dr’s instructions, and use as a memory book, of sorts.

14. Ready-to-use craft kit, such as cross stitch kit, or a scrap booking kit. It is good to feel productive or creative even if you can’t leave bed.

15. 2 large packs of gum, 1 mint and 1 bubble (check with Dr., or hospital if any snacks including candy should be sugar free, or any other dietary restrictions.

16. One friend did a mix tape for me with music he knew I’d love and would cheer me up. It is so easy to burn a CD with your favorite music now on most computers.

17. NON hospital food, if the patient is not restricted with her diet. Bring the patient his or her favorite snack, or take-out from her favorite restaurant.

18. A box of pretty note cards and have them all be pre- stamped- this way the patient just has to write notes to whoever they want, and they have everything write there.

19. Calling card for long distance calls from a hospital.

20. Offer to do things for their apartment or house while they are sick or in the hospital. Do they need the mail taken in? Do they need some groceries bought so that their refrigerator is not bare when they get home?

21. If you can afford it, hire a cleaning service to come over for the day and do a really good cleaning on the house. This is a great gift for the first day home from the hospital, and also good for when the patient is home trying to get well and is staring at all the dust piling up, but may be too weak to clean. This will help put their mind at ease, but also it will make for a cleaner healthier environment.

22. Cook dinners that are easy to freeze and defrost. When you are sick you are too tired to cook, so helping to make easy to heat meals is a wonderful treat. Put post it notes on the dinners with easy instructions to re-heat.

23. If you are not a good cook, send some gift cards to local restaurants or take out. The worst feeling is to be tired, but also in a financial pinch due to medical bills. This helps so much.

24. If the patient has kids, offer to baby-sit. Even if it is taking the baby out for as little as one hour, that will be a wonderful gift of an hour of peaceful rest. It will also put the parents mind at ease to know that their child is getting attention and activity when they might not be able to.

25. Sounds silly—but just ask! Ask what you can do to help, or if they need anything.

26. Bring board games to help them have fun and start interacting again. It is also a great conversation starter for those of you who may get awkward visiting someone who is sick.

27. Offer to take care of pets, walk the dog! Pets feel it when their owners do not feel well, they need attention and love too.
28. When the patient feels up to it, offer to drive him or her to do something special, but short in timing. How about a manicure, or ice cream? Something quick enough to get out of the house, but not too long to be exhausting.

29. Send a card! It is so nice to get a “cheer up” or “thinking of you” card in the mail. Sometimes when people are home-bound the only thing they look forward to is the mail coming and when there is something nice in the mail box mixed in with bills and junk mail it will make the experience even better.

30. Send a care package. Get a box and fill it up with goodies. Remember how you felt at summer camp when you got a surprise package? It was so much fun to rip it open and see what was inside. Nothing has to be expensive, you can go to the dollar store and get fun little things. The idea is just to make the patient smile. Tip: I have always liked when people have written in a note “No thank you necessary.” I get a gift without the guilt of wanting to send a thank you note.

31. Send an email. Don’t wait for the right time. Don’t feel bad because you haven’t been in touch. It is always good to get a nice email. It is always refreshing to hear from old friends. Just start writing. If you want to make the email even better, just sign it “Reply when you can, no rush.” This way the receiver gets your well wishes without having to worry about a reply.

32. Offer to take your friend to other doctor appointments. Sometimes when we are so focused on one area of our health, we can unintentionally neglect other areas. Offer to help your friend keep up with other routine appointments like dentists, eye exams, obgyn, or even a regular check up. Now is not the time to let other areas of health go.

33. Happy nothing! Sometimes we only send our loved ones flowers or get well gifts when they are actually in the hospital or when things get particularly bad. But I think that makes the patient only feel love or attention when things are horrible. Do things really have to get that bad to be a good friend? If you love them today, show them today. If you can, send a bouquet of flowers just to brighten their day. There are so many gift delivery companies online that can send a wide variety of gifts. Every day is a struggle when battling a chronic condition, or going through lengthy medical treatments. Maybe you can make this day a bit better. Don’t wait for a reason, making your friend feel better and surprising them is reason enough. Who knows? You may just brighten their whole outlook and turn their day around.

34. Help with regular every day tasks. When I am sick sometimes I am overwhelmed with the every day jobs or errands that I no longer have energy for. One of the best gifts I have gotten is when friends or family have offered to help me for 1 hour to do anything. Just having company helped make the time pass and helped encourage me to do the jobs I probably couldn’t do before. For example, in the change of seasons going through clothes or straightening your closets can be a daunting task, but if you help while your sick friend lays on the bed, then you can get the job done, feel organized and talk too.

35. Bring over a warm fuzzy blanket to nap with. Something cuddly always cheers anyone up. And even if you think the person you are visiting has a lot of blankets, there is something special about the one you are going to bring- it is new, and it is from you!

36. Don’t forget the standard bouquet of flowers to brighten up the room, especially if you know someone loves flowers.

Article written by Christine Miserandino and bydls.com staff
Why does this list have 36? That is all the ideas we came up with! Do you have ideas to add to this list? Just add them in the comments below.

  • Kay

    Great ideas! Very thoughtful
    I have been sick for two years now, and friends are getting scarce. Those who are still here, have forgotten how sick I am still! Very simple ideas relieve pain but people are so self centred !!

  • Abi

    thankyou for this list!!!!

  • Theresal

    God isn’t there for me. I pray for any kind of solace and get nothing.

  • Theresal

    I agree with you. I’m bedridden and 58. All my “friends” are gone. I see no one. I was always the first one to volunteer and go the extra mile. Now that I’m the one needing some comfort – nothing. I can’t see living such a useless life. I never see anyone. I never get the warmth of a human touch.

  • Activechic

    I like your post. I too would appreciate gifts. Some of the things you listed are expensive. I would share this post, however asking for expensive items seems like pushing it to far. It’s the thought that counts.

    Flowers, cards, a text, would make me the happiest girl in the world. All inexpensive gesters.

  • RedPetals

    This is great. I found this to be true too. & Time is always the best gift.
    Also, mini hand sanitizers that smell nice (bath & body works). BEST under 2.00 gift ever. Especially for hospital stays.

  • Nick Battistella

    I hope you are feeling well, mentally, physically, and emotionally. My daughter is your age and chronically Ill. I’m sure that your family loves and cares for you. Good luck, chin up, think good thoughts and don’t be in such a hurry to see your dad. God bless you. Nick

  • Lisa Young

    That is so true God is always there and as a sister in Christ I’m here to. Keep your big heart,and God bless you my brother

  • X Minus One

    and it’s a very old truth too. Although the materialism and lack of real connections between people seems to be growing exponentially. I too have a fairly wealthy sister who appropriated my ancient parents’ money for her own shopaholic uses. Bought really transitory overpriced meaningless objects and pursuits while she hadconttrol of their money, rather than let it be split 3 ways aat their death. I’d see her $25 bottles of shampoo nd think — that’s 3 days of groceries for me. Bless you dear husband. Ill bet no one loves your brother the wy you and your husband love each other. You are wealthy – he just has money!

  • X Minus One

    My heart goes out to you. The judgments put on us, the betrayal, the abandonment is what makes all the misfortune and illness unbearable. There is love for you in this world – it’s very hard to accept that it’s not coming from our “loved ones.” That pain has kept me from connecting with other people, but our world has produced lots of people far better than most of your gene pool, it seems. My dad died recently too. I dont ctually believe in any sort of afterlife, but I bring my dad to mind in the hardest times and think of what he would be saying to comfort and support me. He looked astonishingly like the conductor in this youtube classic music piece. It is stellar and uplifting in any case. Watch it and imagine you, me, and our dads watching him from the wings as his special guests. Hang on. If only for the birds and the trees and the stars at night.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWTlLN1jBkk

  • LMH

    Wow, that’s an AMAZING & thoughtful friend. My own family isn’t even that aware of my medical needs.

  • LMH

    They just come around when they need something like money. Other than that, be happy if you get a phone call. I’m a disabled, chronically ill 25 year old, who’s always been there for my family, aunts, grandparents even when they needed ANY kind of help, including financial. Now when I’m broke & wheelchair-bound, it’s like I don’t even exist. My family & relatives would never think about me & do any of these things, when they could just continue to be selfish & self-indulging. It’s a sad, sad world. At least this life is only temporary, that’s what gets me through. Knowing one day, I’ll be reunited w/ my Daddy in Heaven & healthy for the 1st time. I will be able to do all the things I missed out on in this life.

  • Cazza

    Great ideas! Like Gail wrote below sometimes we are “drowning here too”. Yet my multimillionaire brother who took everything from our parents and lives a life of sheer indulgence does nothing to ever help his disabled sister. I wish that I had someone out here to help with such nice gestures as these. I have a few friends out here but they just don’t seem to get it and sadly the rest of my family live a long way away now. If not for my dear husband who is also my Carer I would have died years ago.

    These ideas are great only if someone bothers to do anything. Seems to me these days that everyone is too busy making money and gaining material possessions. What I find incredibly disturbing is that when you are well, earning money and your someone, then everyone wants to know you. But the minute your life changes because of severe chronic illness then loss of your job and income. Then watch how many people disappear. It’s sad but I’ve found this to be very true.

    Good luck to all of you who are suffering out there. I truly wish u all the best!

  • Gail

    Little things we can’t do ourselves: pull some weeds (or hire someone who will), send a care package to my kids of fun and silly things they could do, cook or sign me up with a local service that makes homemade meals frozen.
    Send a gift card for a manicure, a massage, a trip to a fast food restaurant. Send a balloon or a plant or a box of popcorn. Offer to get my husband’s filthy car cleaned versus making a face when you ride in it.
    Been sick for YEARS and my rich inlaws have never lifted a finger or done one thing for us to cheer us, support us, and make life easier.Yet they live a life of pampered, self-indugent self-absorbtion. Doesn’t set them up to be catered too if/when the tables turn. Why are people so uncaring? I wasn’t raised that way. We’re drowning over here!

  • Good and thoughful post. I had this expereince when my mom was hospitalized. She had to stay there for about 15 days. First few days were fine, but later she started getting irritated. So we got her some magazines which she loves to read. Also she loves crosswords, so we took a book whcih completely had crosswords. We should be be there to help anyone who is hospitalized because their mind set changed in the hospital environment.

  • A portion of my day to sit and listen to all that is there is to listen. Chats, gossips or just silent attention, face to face. An ipad is very good idea but then it is a bit costly for some. Sickness searches love and attention, I will give that.

  • Aurora

    Sew a wheat bag!!! So easy anyone could do it really, just sew a square, fill with wheat, sew closed, microwave and voila some soothing pain relief in a stylish package!!! It will help your friends pain, and it’s cheaper than black-market narcotics 🙂

  • Steffiep44

    Just a phone call to share what’s happening in their world would be great. It is so hard to realize I am losing touch with people who used to be my friends. 

  • Oh for goodness sake. Cute pajamas and fuzzy blankets are wonderful. But please – someone! Mow part of my lawn. Cut down the forest of briars in my front bushes. Cook me a meal and clean it up! Do a load of laundry. Take the trash to the dump. Water the plants. Anything! I have enough fuzzy slippers.

  • Serena

     yes lip balm is good idea be sure to check with the nurses though there are certain brands that if you are on oxygen it can cause it to ignite

  • Listen to her talk. Listen to her cry. Leave her alone if she asks you to without thinking she is mad or ignoring you. Spend the night.. I am an insomniac… I love when i have company and they stay up all night with me on those wide awake nights. Rub her back or buy her a massage. Bring her books. Bring her things to make her feel pretty. Comb her hair… Her arms hurt. Paint her nails… Her hands shake. Rub her hands and feet. Take her someplace she used to love to go… A bar, a church, a restaurant, a shopping mall. Even if you have to walk slowly and only look in one store or have a club soda, for a little while she felt normal again.

  • Cindy

    I found the hospital air to be very drying. Lip balm is always a great gift and much appreciated!!! I always had one in the room and in my purse when mom was in the hospital…

    No gift needed sometimes…just the gift of your time is wonderful!

  • Nancy l

    Just a visit would be nice, I use to think I had so many friends but found out that no one wants to hang out with me anymore! Even a card would be nice. I feel so alone !

  • di

    – For better health, offer a foot massaage/reflexology.

  • di

    -Try a tank top or camisole. Sleeves tend to get twisted.

  • di

    -Try silky pajama pants – they make it easier to slide around and reposition while in bed – without causing further injury.
    -Pillows may be a personal preference to support an injury in a certain way.
    -To keep your feet warm, try wrist warmers around your ankles. Socks tend to get twisted and may difficult to reach or readjust.
    -Understand a person’s allergies prior to purchasing lotion or cosmetics.

  • Christine –

    A wonderfully comprhensive list – not just useful in-hospital, but at home for patients needing supportive care.

    Looking forward to meeting you at Dave’s Boot Camp tomorrow – in the meantime, I provided a link back to this article for my cancer veteran readers over at my own blog.

    Thanks for putting the time into this!

    – Jeff

  • Nilsa

    I just want to say thank you soo much for coming up with this idea to inform people on what to do.
    I think soo many just get so used to the same thing of you being sick that they no longer put much importance to it.
    I’ve asked soo many people to please just educate yourself and I’m not asking for them to become experts on my condition which is sarcoidosis. Because of people not understanding me they have chosen to get frustrated and end their friendship with me. Or they require the same in return even though I say I could never repay you for what you did for me thanks from my heart. They “claim” to understand but the minute they go through something difficult or a cold tbey end up saying “where were you”?
    I try to explain that between pain,fatigue, a 13mo old baby, calling and/or seeing doctors, resting, cooking, remembering to take meds and sometimes just being stuck on the phone with insurance companies ………is a lot for someone who suffers with a chronic condition. And top that with medication side effects ……..the 1st thing on your mind is not going to be “let me call this person “. And this is what a lot if people don’t understand and it truly crushes my heart to pieces. Trust me we do care and very much. We have time to think but just getting out of bed, just brushing your teeth and so forth takes a lot out of us.
    Also don’t stop inviting us to do things. Yes, maybe the majority of times we have to cancel but at least we new and had a choice and most important felt “part off it”! Also a visit just to chat is soo refreshing. Praying together. Reading the Bible to them. Singing a song of praise together. Those things help dig deeper than any person or medication could ever!!
    People say to me all the time “I really don’t understand your condition ” and then choose somehow to blame me for a friendship that comes to an end! But yet they have told me how much they love me??? Well if you love someone you go through the ups and downs with them and try to at least educate yourself about the condition and NEVER give up on them! Chronic sufferers NEED a support system. We NEED a smile,hug, and yes sometimes a shoulder to cry on. But unfortunately we are misunderstood and left to be lonely. That’s painful.

  • Caroline Gort

    Excellent list. Thank you for taking the time to compose it. A few additional thoughts. For pajamas wide sleeves to help accommodate IVs. A friend of mine who sewa made me some flannel pjs with snaps on the sleeves so they completely accommodated my IVs. I’ve also appreciated cardigans or zipper hoodies that work like an old fashioned bed jacket over hospital gowns providing warmth and a bit of modesty with visitors. Once home those type of lounge wear clothing is helpful as are lap size blankets. Hospitals are often very dry so I often bring friends a small bag with saline eye drops, saline nose spray & lip balm.

    Thank you for all your good work.

  • Joseph James Walker

    I like the list you compiled, but the majority of kindness is aimed at people hospitalized.

    I have an invisible illness, but am still (for now) able to drive, work and live a life. Granted, not the life I want or used to have, but a life outside the hospital none the less.

    I believe a great addition to your list would be: “Take The Ill One’s Caregiver Out For A Night”. While I am still able to care for myself, my partner has given up so much of his free time to help me. When he’s not working, he’s helping me. A great idea would be for someone to invite him to dinner, a movie, a drink, or even just out for coffee. It doesn’t always have to be about the one who is sick. My loved one suffers from my illness just as much as I do and I believe he sometimes feels guilty leaving me. If a friend asks him out, I think he’d be much more likely to go rather than if I tell him “go have some fun”.

  • Julie

    One thing that was such a help was a group from my church would take turn mowing my grass for me. I can’t do it myself and after all the medical bills I can’t afford to hire someone. It would make my day when I would come home from work and see that my yard was mowed. It was more than the yard, it was knowing that I was on someone’s mind and that they care about me.

  • nurse michele

    i have worked in several hospitals, and they do NOT keep the temperature cold on purpose to decrease the spread of germs. with that said, one can always ask a nurse for a fan, or to be moved to a colder or warmer room. usually, the nurses are aware of the indivdual room’s and how they run, if they are more or less sunny, etc.

  • One of the nicest things anyone has done for me is to come over once a fortnight to change my sheets, quilt cover, etc. It’s hard work for me, bending, stretching, and energy-draining. When I’m well I can do it myself – when I’m not well, it’s great that a friend will come and do it for me.

  • I live on Social Security disability and I am unable to work a part time job!

    So I have two websites and when I can get out of the house I will offer my products to host Shows!

    It’s not very much but it makes me feel satisfied that I am NOT in a wheel chair yet! and helps with the bills!

    SSDI is about the same as minimum wage and I have bills and a mortgage! There is also a ceiling, as to what you can make extra on a monthly basis.! Most months I don’t even make what’s allowed but I feel better about myself!

    Most people don’t even know that I am sick…I never get compliments on my cane, but I always run in to somebody who compliments me on my jewelry or my cooking !!!

  • Just to help out once a month with a cleaning service!

    Multiple Sclerosis Pain and fatigue is what I suffer from.

    My Optic nerve also has a scary sensitivity driving at night! The lights seem to glow in a star effect and actually hurt my eyes.
    So I t would be wonderful to have a partner to go to my night time appointments with me just to do the driving!

    I sometimes enjoy cooking but when my legs can’t take standing or I am very wobbly, I make quick meals! Cleaning up the next day is what happens, but that’s OK?

  • KD

    Offer to style and or wash/conditin hair. Either dry shampoo or with kit from surgical supply store. Also a satin pillow case to sleep on if hospital allows.

  • Vicki

    Pillow pets! I discovered these adorable but so soft and comfy things this Christmas when my daughter gave me a turtle pillow pet. I’ve since found a moose to go with my moose collection as well. These things are adorable and when opened up are very comfortable, squishy pillows.

    I second the pets! I know I worry sick about my pets when I’ve been in the hospital and I have family to take care of them!

  • Also, I found out why Hospitals Are Always Cold. They do it deliberately. It’s a precaution against nosocomial disease – catching contagious disease from someone else in the hospital. Even a few degrees too cold for the patient can kill off some temperature sensitive diseases.

    So if someone was going into the hospital I’d not only get them thick warm pajamas, an electric blanket might be a good idea. Or a polar quality sleeping bag they can zip open and use as a comforter. Also a thick fleece robe. If it’s a guy, get something plaid or plain dark color butch looking. The sleeping bag may be a really good idea since the flannel inside is warm and comforting and most good sleeping bags can be machine washed – make sure it doesn’t need special care in cleaning.

    Also checking on pets is a fantastic thing you can do. If someone’s in the hospital, either boarding their cat or checking on it daily is a lifesaver. I know Ari would be the first thing I’d worry about if I was in the hospital, because I’m single and don’t live with family who’d take care of him any more. It would have to be someone I could trust with my keys or call the manager to let them in when they visit and open my room.

  • Amazon or iTunes or Kindle gift card. If they have a Kindle or iPhone then gift certs can be used at home or hospital and any size has some wonderful gifts in a quite small range or if they go for the cheapest, like individual songs or 99 cent books, well, LOTS even if it’s only $15 or so.

    If they don’t have it, either a Kindle or iPhone is a fantastic, maybe life changing gift. Because it saves time and eliminates physical stuff that needs to be cleaned, like bookcases full of novels or separate gadgets for this and that.

    I bought a Kindle 3G that still has the little keyboard on it unlike the tablet-style touch screen ones, the model right before Touch. I downloaded 400+ free books and stories my first week. I can “shop” for new reading anytime I feel like it even if I’m broke. Top authors charge the same for Kindle editions or paperbacks, but sometimes you save a few dollars if a known author releases his backlist on Kindle or they plan it two bucks cheaper or something.

    The biggest thing is not having to store 400 new books. At all. And being able to have ALL of them in hand if I was in the hospital or can’t get out of bed to hunt through the shelves. Actual Kindle also lets you adjust the print size so that everything can be Large Print if pain blurs your vision.

    So getting them a Kindle is a life-changer. The nicest newest one is in color and also functions a lot like a tablet PC letting them surf online with it instead of just shop at Amazon, but smaller and lighter than a laptop.

    The best gift I’ve had from a friend is an iPhone4 that one of my closest friends bought for me when her phone upgrade came due. She gave it to me about a month after I got the Kindle and it has a Kindle app, so I don’t need the Kindle with me to have access to all my books.

    It’s easier to use as a phone than my old Razr. I had no trouble typing in contacts’ names or numbers on an actual little keyboard that works by touch and expands the letters when my finger’s on the right one. The touch screen is easier to use than I thought it would be.

    It can store and play iTunes as if it was the bottom end iPod. So I don’t need to buy an iPod.

    It has a drawing app that’s free called Sketchbook Mobile and a drawing app for $4.99 called Brushes that’s so powerful professional artists use it – one fellow painted a cover for The New Yorker on his iPhone using Brushes. So there’s Emergency Art Supplies and picture doctoring in the same gadget for a $5 app.

    It has lots of game apps available free or cheap – there’s the hand held game machine, small and compact. So far there’s four gadgets in the size of one slightly largish mobile phone.

    It can go online with Safari. So now I don’t need to bring my laptop to the hospital to go online if I go in the hospital.

    The clock and calendar functions have good tones built in and are more programmable than most alarm clocks. So that travel alarm clock for the hospital isn’t needed either.

    The camera is the best digital camera I’ve ever had – 5 megapixels, and it has HDR so the blue sky doesn’t turn white while the green trees don’t get black shadows. It’s got another camera facing me if I want to do videos, it switches easy.

    It does a lot of other stuff I don’t use, there’s a YouTube icon and some other stuff, I downloaded an app that lets me pick colors of Art Spectrum pastels and other specialized apps for art stuff. There are specialized apps for just about anything.

    So if you have the money to do it and have a phone upgrade coming to bring the price down to reasonable – at full price it’s like $500 or something and huge – that is probably the single most useful gift you can give someone with chronic illness. It takes no effort to carry it with me. I usually keep it in an inside pocket that would be hard for a thief to snatch and grab.

    It is vulnerable to theft so it’s important to keep it in a pocket instead of a handbag. It’d be hard to replace especially now that it’s got 1300 photos in it, two thirds of them precious cat photos. I can email the best photos directly to myself and download them into my laptop or any computer I’m using to post them online or use Safari to post them from the phone.

    So I’m definitely in love with my iPhone. It’s $99 with two year plan, the fancier iPhone4S is $199 with two year plan, the previous model iPhone3 is a little simpler with only a 3 megapixel camera and free with a two year plan. So the best time to get it for a friend is just what my friend did – when you have a phone plan upgrade that you don’t need to use.

    I didn’t believe my daughter when she said I’d have no trouble learning to use it, because I’m horrible at learning new software or tech. But she was right. I was using it within fifteen minutes comfortably. A little stylus to poke it if you have trouble touching the icons just right helps, that’s not real expensive though, it’s twenty or thirty dollars.

    It’s also comparable to buying them a computer and an iPod and all that other stuff all at the same time in a form that I don’t have trouble carrying or using in the middle of my worst flare. It goes with me every time I go out and would be on me if I got taken to the hospital while I’m out.

  • Vince Colucci

    10 Easy, cheap, and manly things you can do to make the life of your chronically ill guy friend a bit better.

    First of all we are guys and don’t seem to want your help, can’t ask for it and wouldn’t know how to if we did, but we do need it, just look at us.
    Just like the girls we don’t need a lot of money spent on us and would probably only feel guilty if you did, after all we are or were the breadwinners. Christine at BYDLS wrote about being thoughtful we’re guys we don’t do thoughtful, at least not in public still help and company are appreciated.
    Being a guy and being chronically ill is a double whammy when asking for help it’s hard for us to inconvenience you and even harder for us to look like we need help.
    I stole this next part from Christine Miserandino at butyoudontlooksick.com just copied it and outright stole it thanks Christine you are an inspiration to us all.
    The hardest thing about chronic disease is that it is chronic. I had a friend who had a really bad flu and she received flowers that very week. With me – since I am sick all the time… I get nothing. Am I any less sick, sad, frustrated, lonely, or bored. NO, I need your love and support now more than ever. When everyone else forgets that I am still in this struggle with my illness….. please remember. It didn’t go away, I didn’t forget. I need you to be my friend.
    So like they say at Nike:
    Just Do It!
    So here is my list enjoy and add to it in the comment section.
    1. Come spend time with us you don’t have to do anything just sit there, we are guys we don’t need to talk about “It” or anything else for that matter if we want to we will, otherwise just be with us.
    2. Take us somewhere not something big just to Lunch some of us can no longer drive and are prisoners in our own homes. You know us, you know our restrictions so maybe rock climbing is out of the questions but all you can eat wings at Wings R Us would be awesome.
    3. We had big plans to fix the drippy faucet or repaint that wall covered with dark blue paint and can’t do these things anymore so come over and Sneaky Pete help us to do it. Remember we are fragile beasts and have to think we are still capable of doing things so at least let us think we are. Oh and don’t just show up with the supplies and expect to get to work we will let that unintended insult fester. Hint: we must shop for our own supplies at the Hardware Store.
    4. We already have the gadgets surprise us with a season of one of our favorite series or movies, software, etc.
    5. E-Gift Cards to I-store (blech) or Amazon Digital our gadgets need filling this is where we do it.
    6. Guys don’t do Sudoku we do math problems and Crosswords keep that in mind and pick us up some Puzzle books, we don’t have the attention span for the ones with one kind of puzzle so get the mixed ones. We like our puzzle books like we like our nuts easy to chew mixed and with the answers at the back.
    7. Magazines don’t let us fool you most of us don’t give a darn about car magazines we look at them to look cool in waiting rooms, secretly we would appreciate People, US Weekly, or other pop culture mags.
    8. Lotion, lotion, lotion, this is one of those things we don’t get for ourselves and to tell you the truth most of us will go around looking like a lizard before we even think to moisturize. As a guy buying lotion has a certain connotation, so going to the store to pick it up can be embarrassing.
    9. FOOD not the hospital stuff, but real good American junk food, even just an order of McDonald’s fries will make us swoon, especially if we have been inpatient for awhile. Check with our doctor and the hospital to make sure this fits in to their dietary plan then ignores it and get us some fries.
    10. Just ask, we are not likely to ask for any kind of help be it physical or psychological so just ask if we need anything we are likely to say no but ask anyway.
    You Never Know

  • amber rodriguez

    i love this site! I have MS and all of these ideas are wonderful! Praise God I found a site that truly believes in disabilities

  • Kim

    Have to say the best I got was a group of my neighbours came and tidied my garden for me. Mowed the lawns ,weeded,cleaned the greenhouses, swept the paths, all the things that i was getting worried about trying to do.

  • Michele Rice

    As if I didn’t write too much already, I wanted to add something that my other best friend does when I get to see her, which is not often since she moved across the country. When we get together she is constantly thinking if my comfort and my abilities so that I don’t have to feel bad by bringing it up all the time. She thinks of which roads have the least bumps since she knows how much extra pain they cause, she thinks about the chairs or benches that are available at certain places since certain types hurt me more, and she thinks about my fatigue levels and building in rest breaks throughout the day. I have found that this kind of awareness of the abilities, stamina, etc. of the person with the illness or condition is very thoughtful and helpful. Thanks Natalie!

  • Michele Rice

    There are so many wonderful ideas on this list!!! I have Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), and I’m currently having a severe pain flare-up. Though I can relate to what several people expressed in their comments about the isolation and loneliness and even simple touch, I do still feel really blessed. Just this week my parents were going grocery shopping and called first to see if I needed anything, and then my dad brought the stuff over. My best friend, Lyndlee, who is a fabulous hair stylist, has been driving 45 minutes each way to my house to highlight, cut, and style my hair for me for the last 11 years!! She also let’s me pay what I can. She has offered to help clean my apartment before because she knew the clutter was driving me crazy, and even though I didn’t accept the help because she works WAY TOO HARD AND TOO MANY HOURS already, the fact that she offered meant a lot! When I first got RSD and was pretty much stuck in bed, my grandma did what one of the suggestions was by getting me a watercolor tablet, watercolor pencils, and other things of that nature.

    BUT, one of the BEST things that I feel help me is to know that I’m being thought of even when I’m out of commission for awhile due to a flare. It is so true what was mentioned about when you first get sick or end up with a life-altering condition there is much more support from certain people, but as time goes on it changes. Well, my friend brought tears to my eyes two days ago by doing something FREE but that meant the world to me because it showed her true compassion. Even though she’s been through this RSD journey with me the last 11 years, there is SO MUCH information that is out there that is impossible for me to sit down and try to explain every detail. She went online and looked up RSD to educate herself further on what I deal with, looked for any treatments I may not have tried yet, and also included a poem that she found on an RSD site. WANTING TO UNDERSTAND to the best of her ability without actually having the condition herself just meant more than words can say.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d throw my two cents in!! Thanks for this wonderful list!! I got lots of ideas on what I can do, as well, to help someone out.

  • My goodness, so many of us in the same position.

    After survivibg 2 strokes and the death of my husband. Determination is what brought me back from a distant state to my home state, to be with family. It is rare to see any of my 5 children, and numerous sisters. I am severely depressed and simply cant function most of the time. I am alone with a small dog.

    A short visit from anyone would be welcome. Best ideas I see. Are helping out with meals or grocery shopping. I am unable to cook or plan meals. Most were so happy when I returned home. That initial excitemant seems to have disappeared. To be picked up and driven anywhere would be great. Vacuming my apartment. taking me to a store or out to eat would be a pleasant change of pace. Keep a sence of humor. I can laugh at myself. I have books, music and a computer which keep me busy. a flower would be wonderful. For no reason other than the beauty of a floer, the aroma also the thought.

    a few yrs ago my sister was very ill with cancer. i lived out of state could not visit her. Every day I wrote per text message. being we are both young at heart I created a short story tekking of my life, using imaaginary characters. realistic enough , yet with flair and imagination. I wrote a new shoty chapter every other day. I knew it would make her laugh. being we are close I knew how to absorb her. Just an idea. When you live in 2 differant worlds why not make a story of your life with some funny twists. Anyone can do it.

  • Christy

    I find old-time radio shows very entertaining and a wonderful way to be amused on the days when I can do nothing but lay in bed all day due to pain and fatigue. They can be collected as MP3 files on some sort of harddrive or burnt to disks to play back in a MP3 file. Being as old as so many are, they are free from copyright laws and are free…easily found on-line or through distro sharing groups on Yahoo. They can be shared in many ways, most of them free or low-cost. I am a mystery buff and have thousands of hours of mysteries to entertain me when the going gets really bad and I can’t do much of anything.

  • AmyLea

    If you can sew, rice or corn bags that you heat in the microwave to act as “heating pads” are helpful for fibro and arthritis (or anyone with bad circulation). They don’t take too much time to make, and the materials can be bought cheaply. Knowing my aromatherapty preferences, my best friend made me a flannel rice bag with lavendar added (always check allergies, of course), and she quilted it down the middle so that the rice stays more evenly distributed. I could use 6 of these.

  • I fought Lupus for 10 yrs with multiple extended hospital stays. when it finally “conquered” my kidneys, i had an AWFULLY long stay from Halloween through dec. On thanksgiving, my sister brought a whole bag of costumes to my icu room and enacted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! i laughed for the first time in months! also, my father brought my son to see me there on his 10th bday. (we hadn’t seen each other for over a month.) i still don’t think the nurse who told my son to leave because he was too young ever realized how close she came to losing her life after that comment- i truly thought my dad was going to strangle her! (he stayed.) during that same horrible hospital stay, i suffered 3 mini strokes when they had to stop my coumadin. my speech was slow and unintelligible, and i could only remember 2 of my 3 children’s names. (oddly enough, i remembered my childhood friends’ phone numbers.) my hand was paralyzed from the strokes as well. luckily, my cousin who is an AMAZING OT sat with me for hours EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for weeks to strengthen my hand. (now, it’s weak but almost perfect.) I KNOW HOW BLESSED AND LUCKY I AM AND AM GRATEFUL for all of my dear family and friends!!

    My friends visited me in the hospital, bringing bags of my favorite mixed bin candies, but i was much happier when they took my kids out, had sleepovers and play dates, helped with homework and finally searched for a nanny after a month or so. (i paid for her.) when i finally left the hospital, the docs said i couldn’t lift more than 1 pound, so my AWESOME friends started a “chain of chefs.” 3 times a week, they brought over beautiful home-cooked (or restaurant-made) meals, each to last for 2 days. they even made me salt and taste-free food to meet my new dialysis-restricted diet. THIS CONTINUED FOR 6 MONTHS!!

    I know it’s out of order, (lupus brain fog- sorry), but i just remembered that a very practical thing i got while on the respirator was a spiral notebook and pens so i could WRITE what i wanted to say.
    but, hands down, the BEST gift i got during that scary stay in the hospital was DEFINITELY pictures of my children!!! i was literally ready to give up fighting, but my mom brought in some (not even great) pictures of my kids and taped them to the side of my bed. my strength came back- and with a vengeance!! THAT was my life-saving gift! it was just what i needed and came just in time!!

  • Emily

    I’m on both sides of this…I have chronic illnesses which mean I sometimes have trouble doing the things everyone else thinks I should be able to, and I have a friend who is almost housebound due to pain issues…I’m diabetic, which people don’t seem to WANT to understand IS an illness, and have arthritis, another one people don’t seem to associate with someone in their 30’s, as well as other ‘passing’ pain issues. I can drive, have a licence and a car, but do appreciate being offered to be driven somewhere now and then…and I visit my friend at least once a week, and we sometimes go out for coffee, if either of us can afford it, but usually we just hang out at her house for a few hours…she really appreciates this, and it also helps me to put my illnesses in perspective too…basically, we both enjoy the human connection!

  • I love the list, but I already have all the gadgets to play with (iPod, DS, portable DVD player). One of the best things a friend has done for me is to shave my legs and cut my toenails. With my constant back pain those are two things I am unable to do for myself even if I tried. Unfortunately, she was visiting from another state at the time, so it can’t be a weekly/monthly thing. But I felt so loved and kind of pampered when she did that for me. Sometimes something as simple as that can have a huge impact.