I’ve already shared by 2017 Chronic Illness Gift Guide, but there are so many non material gifts that people with chronic illness really wish they could receive.
1. To be taken seriously
Having a chronic illness is not only difficult physically, it’s difficult emotionally. Many people with chronic illness are accused of faking by their friends, family, and doctors. All people with chronic illness want is to be believed and to be taken seriously. Having a team of people willing to support you it’s crucial to dealing with an illness, but many people do not have it.
2. For doctors, journalists, and the government to stop treating people in pain like criminals
People with chronic pain did not cause the opioid epidemic, so the obsession with chronic pain patients ruining society needs to stop. People in pain are not looking to get high, they are just trying to find a way to lesson the pain so they can function. For most people pain killers don’t even make the pain go away, they just make it more bearable. Still, society has focused on the idea that people in pain are addicts and has determined that people in pain just need to embrace it and they’ll be just fine (for real this is a thing, it’s called pain acceptance).
Studies have shown over and over again that the vast majority of chronic pain patients do not become addicted. All they ask is that their pain is treated and that they aren’t treated as criminals.
3. To have a doctor that will actually listen
Finding a doctor that cares about their patients is an impossible task. Most doctors don’t want to take pain patients anyway, so many people get stuck with bad medical care because they have no other options. People with chronic illness just want a doctor that will listen instead of judge. They also want a doctor that will be honest if they don’t know something, instead of just telling the patient that they must be making things up.
4. For boundaries to be respected
One of the most important parts of living a life with chronic illness is setting up boundaries. Boundaries are not put up to hurt other people, they are there to protect health. People with chronic pain know what they can and can’t do, and if they say they can’t physically do something, they can’t do it. Friends and family need to stop fighting these boundaries and insisting things could be done if they “just tried harder” even though trying harder only makes health worse.
5. Affordable healthcare
In the U.S. the price of healthcare has become ridiculous. It has gotten to the point that even those who have a good income have to make decisions between feeding their family and filling a prescription. No one should have to forgo getting needed medical care because they can’t afford it, but these days almost everyone does.
The price of chronic pain is incredibly high even for those who are lucky enough to have decent insurance. Between monthly doctors visits (now required for anyone being treated by pain), lab costs, prescriptions, alternative therapy, and all the daily devices used to cope with pain, illness sucks people dry. This needs to change.
Many of these wants are not an easy fix, but that doesn’t mean they are not important to people with chronic pain.