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What Your Wish List Looks Like When You Live with Chronic Illnesses

What Your Wish List Looks Like When You Have Chronic Illnesses |

What Do Wish Lists Reflect?

What’s on your wish list, and why do you want these things? They tend to contain practical items that make everyday living easier, or luxurious treats that warm the heart. I’m not going to complain if I receive a fancy handbag, expensive perfume or surprise holiday, so go ahead 😉 But my wish list has definitely evolved along with my illnesses, to include things like pain relieving products. I could probably conclude that the ultimate desire behind every wish list is a better quality of life, whatever that means to each of us.

*Note: This post contains affiliate links. It will not cost you anything to click on them, but I will get a small referral fee from any purchase, which will be used to maintain this blog. Thank you.

Updated: 19 December 2020

1. Oska Pulse

Oska Pulse
(Image Source: Oska Wellness)

At the top of my wish list is the Oska Pulse. Every week, I read a positive review about it from a different chronic illness blogger. It is a little device that uses PEMF (Pulse Electromagnetic Frequency), a technology that’s also used in hospitals for bone healing purposes.

All you have to do is to place it near the site of your pain, and that’s it. You don’t feel a thing – it’s not a massage device, or a TENS machine. In fact, it doesn’t work by blocking out pain. (What?!) It apparently works at the cellular level to heal the source of the problem, instead.

From what I have read, it seems to work great for rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia – which I don’t have – but I’d like to try it out for full body Lupus and Sjögren aches. Anything to cut down some steroids, which I’ve been on for more than a decade without a break, talk about destructive. My bones border at osteoporosis levels because of this, and I can’t help but wonder if the Oska Pulse will have a positive affect on them too, since PEMF aids with bone healing. (Is that too much to ask for?) It’s great that they have a 90-day money back guarantee which makes it more appealing.

2. Quell

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This device is an enhanced TENS machine, and works by blocking out pain signals to your brain. It’s like a wearable painkiller, instead of an oral one. You strap it onto your calf no matter where the pain is, and wear it for up to 24 hours as needed. Technology is pretty amazing, don’t you think? They also have a 60-day money back guarantee.

Update: I received the Quell for free this year, although I didn’t need to write the review in the end. They were very generous with the supplies, and I’d say that the product seemed to help to relieve my joint aches!

3. Weighted Blanket

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These blankets are in common usage by those with autism or sensory issues. The weight feels like a warm embrace, which stimulates oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the ‘hug hormone’. This apparently helps you to fall asleep faster, with a better quality of rest (ain’t that the dream?). The price differs according to the material used to fill it; do ensure that it’s non-toxic, otherwise you’d just be trading one problem for another!

Update: I’ve bought myself one of these since last Christmas, but was a little disappointed in terms of the purported effects of aiding with sleep and anxiety issues. One thing I hadn’t anticipated was the irony of the weight, when trying to pull the blanket over myself every night!

4. Flotation Therapy

Flotation Therapy Gift Voucher

This works great for both physical and mental stress relief. In fact, I emerged from my first float ever feeling the most relaxed I’ve been in years! Floating induces a state of sensory deprivation, which leads you to the theta state of awareness (kind of like daydreaming on a long car ride). It’s literally meditation without even trying. It also stimulates creativity and speeds up muscle repair, on top of many other health benefits.

The only problem as always, is the hefty price tag. A 60 minute session costs $90 (~USD66) here, or $75 (~USD55) if you buy a package. As with many treatments, one attempt is usually insufficient to reap the full benefits, or to judge the effects with accuracy. So a gift card for more floats is always a good idea! 😉

Buy Gift Cards from Palm Avenue Float Club (Singapore)

5. Instant Pot

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I already own one and it’s been especially useful for the achy days, so I’m adding this to the recommendation list. An instant pot is a multi-cooker which functions as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, yoghurt maker, and more! We wanted to buy the InstaPot brand, but didn’t realise how troublesome that would be in Singapore/Australia (shipping, weight, adaptor), and ended up purchasing a Philips one instead.

What we did was to prepare a month’s supply of meals and freeze them in separate bags. Write the name of the dish down with a marker, together with any extra steps needed such as garnishing. After that you can dump each meal straight from the freezer into the pot, and have a warm, nourishing meal ready for dinner!

Another thing you could do to help someone who lives with chronic pain, is to prepare frozen meals such as these. It will make a huge and positive difference in their everyday life.

6. Roomba

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My ex-partner was against the idea of a Roomba. He didn’t think it would do a good job cleaning, would add to the clutter in our home, and says that our hands and legs aren’t painted on. Whilst that may be true, who likes doing household chores even if they’re not in pain?! Maybe I’m just lazy, but I believe in automating anything repetitive in nature. I also have pet birds, and they’re capable of creating a mess even whilst inside their cages! (Empty shell husks have a way of floating everywhere, and they love to kick stuff out of their food bowls.) I suppose anyone with a kid would face the same problem, perhaps even more so. A dirty house and dusty floor is never good for mental wellbeing, I think we can all agree on that?

7. Subscription Boxes

Subscription Self-Care Packages |

Subscriptions are not limited to magazines these days. There are subscription boxes for coffee, tea, even flowers and self-care! Anything you can sell, you can subscribe to; the world is moving towards a recurring sales model, whether we like it or not.

Whilst I’d rather spend my money on a specific thing I want instead of random objects in a box, it doesn’t mean that surprises aren’t nice! Some existing subscription boxes for spoonies are ChronicAlly Box and Spoonie Essentials Box. These lovely ladies curate beautiful packages of self-care items, to lift your spirits on those down days. There are also subscription boxes for periods, mental health, and even fitness programmes adapted for those who live with chronic pain: “Zero to Hero” and “Autoimmune Strong”. Anticipating and receiving a pleasant surprise always produces a warm, fuzzy feeling despite the pain, doesn’t it?

8. Bullet Journal

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If you haven’t watched the video on the original Bullet Journal website, the concept is quite fascinating. There are also many beautiful journal examples all over Pinterest, with all sorts of styles for inspiration! I’m on my second bujo, even though I admit that I don’t really need it 😉 I just find it fun to add some colours, stamps, and stickers to it. It is a tremendous aid for some though, especially those who have memory issues, brain fog, need to track their complex medical symptoms, or like to track habits or activities as a form of motivation.

On top of todo lists, bullet journals can also be used to track your health and wellness or pain, and there are even a few Facebook groups dedicated to chronic illness and mental health. They’d make great presents for anyone, considering that the slate is literally blank. Use them to stimulate your creative juices, journal your days, jot down your dreams and life goals, record your favourite quotes and phrases, or do them all!

9. Heating Pad

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I have a nice and big hot water bottle for days when my period strikes, or when my joints are mega achy. I must live in a cave, but I recently discovered that mysterious objects called ‘heating pads’ exist! (Or maybe I just live in a tropical climate with little need for heated products. Am I excused?) In fact, I’ve personally never seen another Asian girl use a hot water bottle for period pain, and it was my boyfriend who introduced them to me at the tender age of 30. But let me just say – they work. The added benefits to a heating pad include heat intensity controls, and I won’t burn my clumsy self with boiling water ever again! Apart from blankets, they also come in many other forms that target different body parts.

10. YuYu Hot Water Bottle

YuYu bottle in Liberty London fabric. Use it to relieve pain from endometriosis, period cramps, IBD, EDS, and more. | | #achronicvoice #yuyu #heattherapy #chronicillness #spoonies

This is a product that I got to try and review, and it’s been a useful addition to my personal pain relief toolkit. Unlike a generic hot water bottle, this comes in a long shape with a variety of cover materials to choose from, such as fleece, cashmere and organic cotton. You can tie it around your waist and go about your chores; the length and flexibility also means that you can drape it across all sorts of body parts, and I hug it as a warm, comforting bolster to sleep. You can read my full review and buy one at a 15% discount here.

11. Blogging Tools & Packages

If you blog about chronic illness (or anything really), you probably invest a sum of money in order to maintain it. There are the basic hosting and domain costs, then other tools that help to make blogging life a little easier. Popular ones include:

  • Buffer
    I subscribe to the basic plan, which allows me to schedule posts across various social media platforms. It saves me time and effort, as I don’t have to post to every single platform manually. I can also spread my posts out over the course of a day, thus ensuring that it reaches a larger audience around the world.
  • Tailwind
    Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite
    Tailwind offers a few different packs within their platform: post scheduling, Tribes and SmartLoop. Tailwind Tribes are collaborative groups you can create or join, with the aim of increasing the outreach of your pins. SmartLoop enables you to automate your pins to keep them evergreen.

There are so many tools available that I’ve even written an entire post about this. You can help to support a blogger friend’s cause by purchasing a subscription or voucher for them. You might want to check with them first though, as there are many options out there, and every blogger has a different way of doing things!

12. Flowers & Nature-Related Items

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As someone who loves flowers, both arranging and receiving them, they are a welcome gift any time, any day! I love how they’re such wondrous reminders of life, in all their fragility and beauty. They can help to brighten up a dull room and bring some cheer, especially if you’re in the middle of a dreary winter.

Apart from fresh flowers, you can also get nature-related gifts such as self-sustaining terrariums, dried flowers, and succulents are growing in popularity. The only exceptions are those who may be allergic to them, so it might be worth checking first.

13. Books & Magazines

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Books are usually a good idea for most people. It’s easier for me to buy a paperback, but nice hardcovers with beautiful prints on good paper are such a treat! Whilst content matters, books are also a wholesome physical experience. I take pleasure in fondling the paper, taking in the musty scent, and in the high quality of photographs or illustrations. It all adds up to help you unwind on a subconscious level. In fact, studies have found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%!

I also have a huge love for magazines, and usually have one by my bedside in addition to a book. I reach out for it whenever I feel like I need a little soothing. Magazines can be more creative with their presentation, which is refreshing. You usually need to absorb the content or storyline in a book, or risk becoming lost the further you continue. But magazines are usually split into interconnected proses which you can skip or read piecemeal. Whilst gift cards may seem a little boring, they’re pretty safe gifts if you’re unsure of what to get!

Buy a gift card from Amazon
Buy a gift card from AllScript (Singapore)

14. Amazon Kindle

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So I know that I just said that the physical experience of a paperback is great, but I received a Kindle as a gift, and was surprised by how pleasant it is to read on it, too! The size fits perfectly into the palm of my hand, and the light weight would be a plus for those with wrist or chronic pain issues. The e-ink isn’t harsh on the eyes, and it’s great for reading in bed for days when you can’t sleep. I have the Kindle Paperwhite, and would recommend it; it comes with a backlight which is important in my opinion.


This wish list is a reflection of my current state in life. Many of these are things I’d never thought I’d want or need in another life. If not for chronic illness, I probably wouldn’t even know of their existence! To the people who invented these wonderful products – thank you.

My list also probably looks a little different compared to others, based on the varying kinds of pains we experience. Over to you – what’s on your wish list, and how does that reflect your current state of being?

*Note: This article is the author’s personal opinion, and meant for educational purposes. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding new treatment protocols.

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  • Avatar of Marya

    I’ve been wondering about a weighted blanket (in Florida!!!) or an extra large heating pad. I have trouble regulating body temps when I don’t feel well.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      That’s no good 🙁 It can be really pesky, I know. I find my weighted blanket too heavy (ironic I know!) especially when I have joint pains. But it does provide some anxiety relief.

  • Avatar of Nikki Albert

    I do have a kindle and an Oska Pulse. Books are my go to for sure. But I have always wanted to try a weighted blanket. Subscription boxes are cool but I can’t afford them.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Subscription boxes would make perfect gifts or treats – I love them too, all the little bits and pieces to sample 🙂 I love my Kindle too. Never thought I would as I prefer traditional books, but it’s a lifesaver on the weight and in the dark, especially if you have a partner who hates the lights on. I want to try an Oska Pulse but not sure it’s worth the spend.

  • Avatar of Shruti Chopra

    The Quell seems like a really good idea and something I would love to know more about. A very helpful and relevant list here Sheryl even though I’m discovering it in 2020!

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Hi Shruti, I might have to take the Quell down unfortunately. It seems they got into trouble with the FTC for claims that are false:

      So it’s really up to the person as I’ve heard many good reviews from those with chronic pain. For me I could never really tell if it was placebo or not. I thought it helped, but not to a super degree where I could tell for sure.

  • Avatar of Claire

    I’ve been wondering about an Instant Pot for a while now! Seems such a good piece of kitchen it for those days when cooking and standing for a long time is out of the question.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      To be honest I haven’t touched mine in a while, but it definitely is super useful for dumping in one pot meals. And I’m sure you’ll be more creative with it than me, ha! Let me know if you ever create some awesome one pot low histamine recipes! 🙂

  • Avatar of Christina P. Kantzavelos

    Hey there! This is an amazing list. I saw that you brought up journaling. As a spoonie and licensed mental health clinician, I saw a huge need for a mind-body journal with prompts that cater to chronic illness. I created Begin Within – A Daily Healing Journal for this reason. It’s bullet journaling meets living life chronic illness. Hope you can check it out and maybe consider adding it to your list ?

  • Avatar of Bindu Thomas

    I love the idea of heavy blankets and floatation. Would definitely like to try them. Wish you would find more peace and healing in the new year with your illness.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Thanks Bindu! Yes flotation was an interesting experience for me. When you’re forced to just lie and be still for an hour or more, it gets to you (in a good way!).

  • Avatar of tweenselmom

    I love your ideas and the way you wrote about them. Christmas gifts are over but I’d like to have some of these on your list.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      They sure are year round gifts, especially suitable for those who live with chronic pain, but also for anyone else 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  • Avatar of Fransic verso

    Amazing stuff to be on the wish list, the oska pulse got my attention because it sounds really cool. I’m not sure if we have enough time because the list already with Santa and Christmas just couple days. Would put some of the things next time, thank you for sharing.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Most welcome, Fransic, and thanks for browsing the list! 🙂 The Oska Pulse is pretty famous within the chronic illness community, and seems to have a good rep! Merry Christmas!

  • Avatar of Rose Ann Sales

    I love these stuffs, even if I don’t have chronic illness, especially the weighted blanket, it’s so comfy to use.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Hi Rose, yes they can be useful, comforting gifts for anyone else, too! Weighted blankets are a popular choice it seems 🙂

  • Avatar of Bella

    Instant pot!!!! i just got one a couple weeks ago and I am so stoked on it!

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      It’s a pretty useful tool, isn’t it? Especially if you’re the sort who loves (or I guess hates :p) to cook!

  • Avatar of Rosey

    My son has a tens machine. My neighbor just had something installed inside of her body that she charges to make pain go away; it’s like a tens machine.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Hi Rosey, wow that’s interesting. An internal TENS like device. I hope both your son and your neighbour are doing okay. Sending good thoughts for the season.

  • Avatar of Andrew Koscielecki

    Cool things on the list, but I would add more high tech stuff.

  • Avatar of Gervin Khan

    Those things are cool. I also have a wish lists but I can’t afford to get it because I keep on procrastinating. Well, goodluck and I’m looking forward for your next update!

  • Avatar of Sundeep

    Thanks for sharing this amazing list of items. I am looking for Instant pot. Will definitely going to order this right away.

  • Avatar of Krysten Quiles

    I love my weighted blanket, and I think I need that Tens unit. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Most welcome, happy there’s something on the list you like! I’m not so much into my weighted blanket, but many people love it!

  • Avatar of Stephanie Stebbins

    I want every single one of these (especially the Roomba)! Thank you for this list!

  • Avatar of cherie

    I LOVED my Roomba, had it for a lot of years. I have been trying to convince my husband that we should get one here in Germany. He doesn’t think it will work well, but they really do a great job.
    I would also love to have a weighted blanket, but they are so costly.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Haha the men don’t seem to like it so much, do they :p I personally didn’t like the weighted blanket after trying one (they are so heavy to pull up and I am one of those people who shuffle a lot in my sleep :p)

  • Avatar of Claire

    You’ve put together such a wonderful list here.

    I am loving so many of these suggestions that I think I may forward to my fiancé ?

  • Avatar of Jenny

    This list of gifts is great for all of us who need pampering and self care. Even without chronic illness, we all have those days when we need some extra help and comfort. I love the gift boxes, I subscribe to one that I receive seasonally, and I so look forward to the surprises I find, things I may not have purchased for myself.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Definitely! What sort of subscription do you have? I love receiving things like that in the mailbox too 🙂

  • Avatar of Amelia

    Good list. I have used a bullet journal for two years now and love it. Page for the week open and can see exactly what is happening and needs to be done. I think everyone should have a heating pad at home even for a cold and general aches. Your blog makes me appreciate my body (currently pain free) and what I take for granted.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Thanks so much lovely! Would love to look at your bujo pages some day on your blog! I just use them for lists and rely on stickers and washi tape to make them pretty haha. Yea definitely need a heating pad myself, I currently use the old school hot water bottles!

  • Avatar of Don Shetterly

    I do love my Instant Pot. It is one of the best things I ever bought. I’ve heard about the weighted blankets but not sure if I would like that or not.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Good to hear you love your pot! Yea weighted blankets are okay…I didn’t like them so much personally!

  • Avatar of Carlyn

    I love the weighted blanket idea!

  • Avatar of Verla

    A nice reminder about a remote vacuum cleaner and kindle. They are now on my list. Thank you Sheryl.

  • Avatar of Claire

    I would love a Roomba….I wonder if it could cope with my shaggy dog’s long hair?! Anything to help with cleaning! A weighted blanket is top of my list this year, C x

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Haha probably not, I think hmm…But I agree, anything to help with cleaning! It seems like weighted blankets are popular requests this year! 🙂

  • Avatar of Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

    I have that very instant pot cooker – it’s great. I need to look some more in to weighted blankets.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      The Philips one? 😀 Yes, and ironically, I like pressure cooking potatoes with it, it taste good (what a waste of the cooker, ha ;)). I didn’t really like the weighted blanket I bought, but it might work for you! 🙂

  • Avatar of Emma

    My mum bought be a heated wrap blanket/wrap around brace it also has a large velcro strap so can just wrap around and keep in place. A god send for my back and hips.

  • Avatar of Terri

    There are several things here that are on my wish list as well. I would love to have a Roomba. We have two little dogs who shed like crazy, and vacuuming is a never-ending job. I recently got an Instant Pot and it’s fantastic. It’s really nice for those days when I just don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen. I shared this on Pinterest and Facebook — you’ve got some wonderful ideas here! Thanks for giving me some items for my list! :o)

  • Avatar of Marla Nolan

    Sheryl, thanks for sharing these items. I think I’ll save up for the pulse for my RA. Please let us know how it works for you.

  • Avatar of Emma

    Some great ideas here, the Oscar pulse sounds great but too expensive for me unfortunately. The subscription boxes also sound a great idea too. This is a helpful list.

  • Avatar of Caz

    Some fab ideas – I’d love to try floatation, and what a novel gift that is to give someone!

  • Avatar of Lydia

    This wish list is very close to mine! I, too, have an instant pot and it can be a lifesaver when you are too sore to make a big meal. I am doing an art journal right now and I find it very healing. I sort of do the bullet journal thing but it is in a file on my computer and is mostly to record health stuff though that includes appointments, etc. so it is a bit of a to do list. The oska and Quell are at the top of my list. We did the Roomba thing and it was great at first but scared the dog and cat, and was annoying, especially when I wasn’t well.

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Hey Lydia, seems like these items are quite the spoonie’s dream gift haha! I guess the Roomba is a love or hate thing, from what I hear. I shall be happy with my unpainted on hands and legs for now 😉 I use my Google Calendars for lots of things, but it’s been quite nice to be in the act of actually using my hands to write something down at times :p xx

  • Avatar of Stephanie

    A weighted blanket and books are definitely on my list! I wouldn’t mind a Roomba either (and neither would my carpet)!

    • Avatar of Sheryl Chan

      Yes how nice it would be to sink into bed with a weighted blanket (I think)! I’ve heard good and bad reviews about the Roomba, so hey, need to test it for myself ;p

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