Support Network Members Suggest – Holiday Gift Guide

We asked members of the Support Network to share some of the best gifts they received on their heart or stroke journey. The answers we got back were a great source of inspiration – maybe they will help you find the perfect gift for the survivor on your list this holiday season!

JeffBreece says:
  • A road ID/medical bracelet band
  • Massage gift certificate
  • Yoga gift certificates
  • Aspirin or nitro necklace for peace of mind
  • "Gift certificates" for dinner dates with friends or family to keep the social interaction streaming (either in house for the very sick or out on the town for the more mobile)
  • A nice journal and pens to encourage folks to start writing down their feelings
  • Health food gift cards
  • A copy of Forks over Knives, Better than Vegan or The Spectrum Diet
  • Good running/walking shoes with a fitting from a local running shop (this is an awesome experience - these places also usually have clubs which further helps social interaction)
  • Warm blankets, fresh towels, robes etc...  you can never have enough and some folks scrape on these luxuries

AHA Ambassador Christine shares these sweet ideas:
My sisters put together a glass jar of well wishes. They each wrote down encouraging words or favorite childhood memories that would make my heart smile. I loved opening one each day the first month of my recovery as part of my morning routine. It really helped heal the human spirit when all I felt was pain physically and emotionally through all my ups and downs. The jar was decorated with those foam type materials that can be found in scrap booking sections and the papers were those "break open" type designs also found in scrap book section. It also is a nice keepsake to look at on your recovery anniversary date. 
If you recently had surgery and you have sternal precautions to adhere to, I recommend dry shampoo. Nothing is worse than when you don't feel good and can't wash your hair to make you feel better. 
Also - any type of body lotion because your skin is super dry from the anesthesia working its way out of your system. Something pleasant smelling to help calm you, refresh your spirit and mind.  

Mark Ridder shares:
The one item that I found most useful during the first few months of my recovery from valve surgery was a foam bed wedge that allowed me to sleep in a bit more upright position in our bed. This took a lot of the pressure off of my chest incision and really improved my overall comfort and sleep quality. The more upright position can also be helpful to stroke patients who may have swallowing/reflux gastric issues when lying flat versus more upright.

Joel Robbins said:
I received a portable blood pressure cuff and reader.  This was particularly useful during recovery when I was freaked out about every little thing.  I also received coupons from friends for service hours - whatever I needed, I had many hours donated by my friends to help take some pressure off of me and resolve some issues/worries for me around the house (and farm at that time).  
I also received many, heartfelt visits from family and friends.....those actually meant the most to me as it was all part of the healing and helped me know/learn I really was not alone.

Dennis Dobkowski shared these ideas:
A Fitbit is great to see your steps and how you sleep, a heart monitor when exercising, a diary to write about your experience and feelings that may be passed on later, a blood pressure monitor, photo album to add pictures of your progress and those that helped you, inspirational posters and a packet of thank you cards for all that sent their good wishes for your recovery.

Kimberly Goodloe offered these suggestions:
My sister bought me a journal while I was a patient in the hospital.  I wrote in the journal daily, great tool to use; monitor recovery and inform physician of any changes within the body.

Jen Hyde had these ideas: 
1: Something to read: a subscription to Bellevue Literary Review. This is a journal of literary works published by NYU Langone medical program. It's a great gift that "keeps on giving" since it will come twice in a year :) http://blr.med.nyu.edu/
2: Something to write: a guide like this one on writing down your story, whether this is your healing journey or your life's story. It can be very cathartic, as we all know, to tell our stories and this could be a family heirloom for years to come. 
3: Something scented: a diffuser (an electronic one or the kind with reed sticks) and lavender oil to relax, like this one, or this one
4: Something to listen to: a meditation tape, like these
5: Something to wear: fun button down pajamas because it can hurt to lift your arms over your head when you are healing, and you might just be wearing pajamas for a while (though, even years after my operation, I'd wear pajamas all of the time if I could). for women and men
6: For multi-tasking caregivers, something to eat:slow cooker and this awesome AHA cookbook full of slow cooker recipes. 
7: and lastly, and this is maybe more for women than men, just something to make you feel pretty again, to help you "fake it 'till you make it" like a lipstick, or a nail polish, or a delightfully scented hand cream, or these fabulous Wizard of Oz, Dorothy-esque, red glittery slippers. 

Baseball great and Hall of Famer, Rod Carew, who lives with heart disease and requires the assistance of an LVAD offers this suggestion:With speacialized medical clothing, like Carew Medical Wear, I can wear my equipment comfortably. I have found nothing comparable to this LVAD vest. This is a Home Run.  
 
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Tell Us: What gift ideas would help the survivor in your life?
 
Posted by AHA/ASA Katie Bahn on Dec 13, 2016 1:41 PM CST

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