Xmas Gifts for MSers

Posted on 30th Nov 2012 by ian under Random | No Comments »

I receive a weekly newsletter from Julie Stachowiak who writes about MS for www.About.com. This week she wrote about gifts NOT to give people with MS so thought I would summarise here and add a few of my own. I guess non-MSers have the thought, “Gosh, what do I get someone with MS?” and then focus on the disease not the person… and I’ll be the first to say that people with MS are hard to buy for. So, what to avoid?

1. Anything that makes noise. For example, a singing/dancing whimsical object. Most MSers have a bit of cognitive dysfunction that means a prominent noise detracts from all else going on around and can cause a wee ‘meltdown.

2. Season tickets. All very nice to encourage us to ‘get out more’ but most MSers can’t predict how they will feel in an hour let alone at a specific time on a specific day next month. It could even create pressure and guilt because chances are it will be money badly spent. Trying to be positive here, if your MSer mate likes the movies, a movie pass could work because that is time-flexible.

3. Stuff about MS. There are some funny MS t-shirts, coffee mugs, wristbands etc BUT they are for the ‘in’ crowd – only those who have MS should give and receive those. The old “I’m only in it for the parking” t-shirt is funny, but also insulting if from a fully myelinated person.

4. Anything with instructions (this one is mine) – sorry, many of us can’t read, absorb and act on written instructions… and if it comes to Ikea it would be a double whammy – spasticity makes fine motor skills redundant.

5. A surprise party. Nah. Not good. In fact bad. Real bad.

6. Books. To be more precise, books that require effort. Many of us cannot remember what is on the previous page once it is turned. You probably have noticed if your MSer mate still reads. I don’t. Having said that, a book of very short stories, anecdotes or interviews can work. A good example – Parky’s People. And I may offend a couple of people here, but please, no more ‘inspirational’ quotes books. We are not inspirational people. We do not need external inspiration. Having said that, we sometimes inspire ourselves. For example, if we ever get through a night without having to get up for a pee, we might mentally punch the air and yell, “Yes!”.

7. Julie agrees with steering clear of the ‘inspirational ‘ gift and gives examples of a picture of a mountain with a ‘you can do anything’ quote and a photo of a kitten tangled in wool captioned, ‘try and try again’. Also anything religious.

8. Anything with a ‘should’ message. MSers who smoke should give up. Smokers without MS should give up. We all should exercise more and eat healthier. Nobody needs to be told these things.

9. Something that will ‘fix’ something. If I have trouble reading a road map, don’t be the one to try and fix it by getting me a GPS system. Unless I have dropped a hint that I would like a GPS system. We know how to ‘fix’ things. With my GPS system, I need someone to punch in the data otherwise I would prefer to drive aimlessly around the block or stop and ask directions. I don’t text either. And it is not the size of the thingummies you push to do it.

Well… there you go. So, what do you give someone with MS? Trust me, love and a hug works. Love, laughter and a hug even better. And understanding. Especially understanding that we would have liked to have been able to shop longer and harder for your gift.

Me? Clothes. Going to a noisy mall, finding a shop, choosing clothes, trying them on is very difficult. Shirts, socks, undies – they all work as pressies. I find shoes the hardest to buy. I have already dropped the hint that it would be possible to take my favourite shoes to the shop and ask for something in the same size and similar style.

A nice wine. Not one that is over the top but just a tad more expensive than what I would buy myself. Then I can donate it back for Christmas lunch and feel as though I have contributed. It’s a lot harder to peel prawns these days.

I am right for toiletries but think aftershave or perfume would work for someone you know well. Oh! Two years ago I received my lovely collapsible cane from the kids – that was a great gift.

But, really… love, laughter and a hug. And a nice shirt to enjoy a nice wine in. Happy as. Merry Christmas.