Use this guide to find gift ideas for yourself or someone you love.
With symptoms like numbness, memory problems, confusion, difficulty moving our limbs, heat intolerance, pain, and many more, those of us with multiple sclerosis (MS) can find seemingly simple tasks incredibly difficult. It’s no wonder, then, that many of us are constantly on the lookout for ways to make our everyday lives a bit easier. I’ve used a number of different gadgets and apps over the years and can recommend any of the following to my fellow MSers — either as a holiday gift or a year-round necessity.
One of my earliest MS symptoms was numbness in my hands. It’s an issue that’s persisted and led to me dropping and spilling many drinks over the years, often breaking the glass as well. A couple years ago, I discovered the CURVD mug, which is much easier for me to hold because of the ergonomic flared design of the handle, which the manufacturer says “transfers the weight of the drink to the muscles and not to the joints.” I can even tuck more of my hand into it, giving me more control over the mug. A single mug is $15.95.
Thanks to my MS-related heat intolerance, my other MS symptoms get considerably worse if the temperature in the room goes up even half a degree. One product I’ve found to be incredibly helpful is something marketed as a “migraine hat.” I don’t get migraine headaches, but this kind of hat has cooling material in it and has become one of the most effective ways I’ve found to cool myself down quickly. I’ve tried a few different brands — they vary in price from $12 to $30 — and my current favorite is this one made by TheraICE Rx.
Sticking with the cooling theme, another great product I use often is the Ice Towel by Koldtec, which strategically cools pulse points around your neck. Not only does the engineered ice pack inside it stay colder for longer than a usual ice pack, but the entire system stays dry (something that many cooling systems lack). You can get one in your choice of four colors for around $40.
As my MS has progressed, it’s affected one of my favorite pastimes: reading. I started having difficulty following along on the page, as well as remembering what I’d read. I discovered that having a consistent typeface and font size that was properly illuminated helped me follow along more easily, which also seems to help me better recall what I’ve read.
That’s when I became a fan of using an e-book reader, a small tablet-like device that allows me to make every page look the same for every book. The consistency that an e-reader offers has helped make reading enjoyable for me again. Its small size and light weight also make it more manageable for me.
I use the Kindle, starting around $100, mostly because I was able to get a good deal on it, but other products, like the NOOK by Barnes & Noble, provide a similar experience at a similar price point. (You can often find these on sale or purchase refurbished models to save a few bucks.)
While some people may worry that using a Kindle or NOOK locks them into getting all their books from Amazon or B&N, that’s not actually the case. You can download books to your e-reader from many online sites, such as Project Gutenberg and Open Library. You can also download books from many local libraries using the Libby app.
Vision issues are common for people with MS. I’ve personally dealt with optic neuritis and blurry vision over the years. Bad vision can also obviously affect our ability to read. That’s where Audible comes in. The company offers a massive (and growing) library of audiobooks that you can listen to. Owned by Amazon, it also integrates with your Kindle, so you can switch between reading a book and listening to it with a single click. Subscriptions start at $7.95 a month. However, promotions are common.
Footwear is a big issue for people with MS. Numb hands and feet can make putting shoes on very difficult. I’ve often defaulted to wearing something I can easily slide into, like flip-flops. Those, however, become a source of danger and have caused me multiple falls, as they don’t give me secure footing. That is until I discovered the Nike FlyEase series of shoes, designed with insights from the disability community. They feature various methods of putting on and securing the shoe that are significantly easier than most shoes.
For example, I have a pair that allows me to loosen and tighten the shoe using an easy-to-hold zipper on the side. In other versions, the back of the shoe drops down, letting you slide your heel into it before popping the back up for a snug fit. Not only are these shoes easier to put on, but they are as secure as regular shoes and look just as fly. These have been a real game-changer for me, and I hope that other shoe companies follow their lead in the near future. Prices start at $120 when not on sale.
One of the most important things I’ve learned while living with MS is that tracking and writing down my symptoms is extremely important when it comes time to contact my doctor. That’s when the Wave app comes in handy.
Wave lets you easily input and track your symptoms and general health by quickly answering a few questions each day. The app’s symptom tracking is easily customizable, which is extremely helpful for a disease like MS when symptoms can vary from person to person and day to day. It can also generate easy-to-understand reports that you can show or send to your doctor. The base app is free, with a more advanced version that offers additional reports (as well as the ability to download them in PDF format) going for $4.99 a month.
The fatigue, numbness, and cog fog I experience because of MS have severely affected my ability to drive. As I live in an area that lacks good public transportation, I find I need to rely on ride-sharing services to get around. These can be pretty pricey, though, so when people mention gift ideas for me (or others with a chronic illness), I like to point out that you can purchase gift cards for both Uber and Lyft. For someone who often misses out on things because of transportation challenges, having someone pick up a ride for me via one of these gift cards is always an amazing present.
Living with MS challenges us on so many fronts. Why not take advantage of one (or more!) of the many products and services that can help ease symptoms or make daily activities less stressful for yourself or someone else with MS?
Medically reviewed on December 01, 2022
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