Compression Stocking Tip #5: How Many Should You Purchase?

29 Mar

If you have been following my recent tips, then you know where to buy compression stockings, what to look for in a stocking dealer and which kind of stockings are right for you.  Once you are ready to make the purchase, it is time to decide how many stockings to buy.

If you are like me and come from the shopping school of “When you find something that works, buy it in every color,” you may have to adjust your purchasing habits.  Compression stockings are expensive and they do not last forever.

Stockings are meant to be worn, washed and worn again.  If they linger too long in your dirty clothes basket, the fibers begin to deteriorate.  But a life of coming home from work and doing laundry every day is pretty depressing – and not always possible.

So the number of stockings you purchase depends on your budget limitations as well as your lifestyle preferences.

Here are five stocking lifestyle profiles.  See which one fits your budget and lifestyle the best.

One pair of stockings can get awfully lonely.

One pair of stockings can get awfully lonely.

#1 The Optimist
If you have the time (and inclination) to wash stockings every night, then potentially you could buy just one pair.  But I wouldn’t recommend it.  Having only one pair of stockings leaves little drying time after washing – and zero room for error should your stockings get damaged.

ObsessiveCompulsive

Here are a few pairs of my stockings at rest on my drying rack. If you own only a few stockings, be prepared to stick to a regular washing schedule.

#2 The Obsessive Compulsive
The minimum number of stockings I recommend is three.  Two of the three pairs are for regular wear (interchangeably every other day).  The third is to be kept as a spare and worn only in case of emergency.  An emergency is when one of the first two have been damaged and are no longer wearable.  An emergency is not when you are too tired to launder the other two pairs.  Beware that having only two pairs of stockings in the rotation means you have to stick to a daily or every-other-day washing routine.

This is me a couple of years ago, after running a 5k. It sure was nice (for me and everyone else) to have a clean pair of stockings to change into.

This is me a couple of years ago, after running a 5k. It sure was nice (for me and everyone else around me) to have a clean pair of stockings to change into.

#3 The Athlete
If you are very physically active, consider buying four pairs.  Two for regular wear, one for exercising and one for emergency use only.  With the exception of swimming, all exercise should be performed while wearing compression stockings.  If you can afford the expense, then you will enjoy the convenience of having a fresh pair of stockings to change into after going for a run or taking in a yoga class.

Fashionista

Once, I branched out from beige/black and tried a “platinum” colored stocking (pictured). I felt like an extra in the movie Avatar. Don’t let that deter you. Pursue your inner Stocking Fashionista.

#4 The Fashionista
Beige can get old real fast.  Luckily, stocking vendors have caught on and now offer garments in a variety of shades.  If you want to add color to your legs, then factor that into your budget.  I get a lot of use out of black stockings during the winter, in addition to beige-colored stockings.  That means I order about twice as many stockings in the cold months as I do in the warmer weather.

The Hoarder

While this overflowing drawer of stockings may look like compression stocking heaven, resist temptation. Don’t hoard.

#5 The Hoarder:  Ordering in Bulk
I’ve had a recurring nightmare about my favorite compression stockings being discontinued.  I wake up in a cold sweat, refreshing Juzo’s product website until I fall back asleep.  If you win the lottery, you might be tempted to stock up on your stockings.  Resist.  For two reasons.

One, stocking return policies usually extend only 30-to-90 days from the date of purchase.  If you crack open a pair that you have been hoarding for six months and discover an issue with the fit or have some other issue, you may have difficulty securing a replacement or refund.

Two, compression stocking technology is constantly improving.  The style you are in love with now might be even better in a year’s time.  The stockings I first donned in 1998 feel like sandpaper compared to the updated version I wear today.  Over time, improvements are made to just about every aspect of the garment.

Earlier this year, Juzo made a change to the waistband of the Soft garment I wear.  No more bulky elastic to thread through the waistband.  Now it’s smooth and fitting.  More comfortable and less conspicuous under clothing.  If I loaded up on Softs, I’d be kicking myself for not being able to enjoy the new model.

 For those of us with lymphedema, compression shopping lacks the fun and spontaneity of regular shopping. Our choices involve more than color and style; our choices directly affect our comfort and health. Making informed purchases of compression stockings should help to eliminate financial or emotional “buyer’s remorse.”

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Compression Stocking Tip #4: Which Stockings are Juuust Right for You

22 Mar

StockingsThis stocking’s too tight.  This one’s too loose.  This one’s juuust right.  Sometimes searching for the right compression stocking can make me feel like Goldilocks.  But finding a stocking that fits well, looks decent and prevents swelling is no fairy tale.  It is possible.

First, you have to learn how to recognize the feel of a good compression stocking fit.  Compression stockings are designed to improve the way the body feels (and operates).  They should make you feel better, not worse.  My happiest days of the year are the days I crack open a new pair of compression stockings.

So what do I feel, when I pull on a pair of stockings that are juuust right?

Relief. Lighter-weight. Energized.

Over the years, I have ordered plenty of stockings that are not right for one reason or other.  These are some of the feelings I experienced, when trying on stockings that were not the right match for me: Continue reading

Treatment Funds the Cure: BrightLife Direct and Lymphedema Diary Team Up for LE&RN in Celebration of Lymphedema Awareness Month

2 Mar

What if I told you that your purchase of compression garments could help the fight to end lymphatic disease and lymphedema?  Well, THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF MARCH, it will.

When you buy your garments from BrightLife Direct during March 2015, one percent of the total purchase price (on all orders that include the coupon code DONATE) will be donated to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&ARN).
BrightLife-Direct-Products

Why during the month of March?
March is Lymphedema Awareness month.  That means it’s our time to shine — all 100 million of us worldwide who suffer from lymphedema.  It is our moment to collectively raise our voices and demand funding for research to find a cure, adequate insurance coverage for medical treatment (including for compression garments) and full engagement from the medical community to increase prevention and early detection rates. Continue reading

Coming Soon…a special announcement on Monday

28 Feb
Image via Lymphedema Mavens

Image via Lymphedema Mavens

As I write this post, the actual temperature outside is minus three degrees Farenheit.  Those of us in the northeast United States and elsewhere are anxious to say goodbye to what has been one of the coldest Februaries on record.  But there is another reason to be excited about turning a page on the calendar. March is Lymphedema Awareness Month!

Lymphedema Awareness Month is the time for individuals and organizations around the world to jump up and down, waving their hands to spread the word about our condition to elected officials, the medical community, friends and neighbors.

In celebration of our month, I will be making a special announcement on Monday.  I am really looking forward to sharing it with you.  Stay tuned, or sign up for email alerts to be the first to hear the news.

Until then, so long, February.  Take your time coming back next year.

VIDEO: The Perfect Wintertime Lymphedema Activity

7 Feb
Compression stockings alone do not move lymph fluid.  They help prevent more fluid from collecting.  Only exercise (combined with compression stockings), massage and therapeutic devices can propel lymph fluid through uncooperative lymph vessels back toward the heart, where it belongs.
I do my best to exercise regularly, because exercise stimulates lymphatic flow. In the wintertime, however, it is more difficult for me to get motivated to exercise.Here in New York state, we have had a great deal of the fluffy white stuff this winter. If you live in a similar area, you might want to try an exercise that’s fun, great for lymphedema and sure to keep you moving during these cold months. It’s called snowshoeing.

(Click below to watch the video for a demonstration – or read the transcript that follows – to see how snowshoeing is a perfect lymph fluid-moving wintertime activity.)

Special thanks go to my mother and brother, who gave me the snowshoes and poles as a Christmas present this year.  My family has always encouraged me to try new things as I cope with lymphedema.  You never know what new activity, product or routine could make an impact in the successful management of this condition. I am very lucky to have cheerleaders to keep pushing me past my comfort zone, and to make sure I never lose hope that we all can find a better way to live with lymphedema.

Please share, comment and sign up for email alerts, so you don’t miss any future posts.  Thanks for reading.

Compression Stocking Tip #3: The “Four P’s” of Choosing a Compression Stocking Dealer

1 Feb

HandshakeCompression stockings squeeze you enough.  Your stocking dealer shouldn’t squeeze you as well.  So, how do you choose a business that will provide you with products at a fair price with good service that you can count on?

When choosing a compression stocking dealer, always remember -you are a consumer, not a patient.  Stockings are a product – an expensive product – and you are a consumer paying money (usually a lot of money) for goods.  You deserve courtesy and satisfaction in your purchasing experience.

I encourage you, as a consumer, to look for the “Four P’s,” when checking out a new compression stocking dealer. Continue reading

Compression Stocking Tip #2: Where to Buy Compression Stockings

11 Jan

Where do you buy compression stockings?  Not at the mall.  And not at your local drug store either.  Sure, just about every CVS and Rite Aid pharmacy carry compression garments of some kind, but the support hose offered there is the compression equivalent of a gentle breeze caressing your leg.  Lymphedema legs require sustained, gale force support.

BONUS TIP: Stocking dealers want your business and may be flexible on price. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I’ve done it successfully. When I found a new dealer I wanted to switch to, but their prices were higher than my old dealer, I told them about the lower price I was getting. They honored the lower price without even asking to see a sales receipt.

BONUS TIP: Stocking dealers want your business and may be flexible on price. It doesn’t hurt to ask. I’ve done it with success. My current dealer honored the lower price of my previous dealer without even asking to see a sales receipt.

Only a handful of companies manufacture stockings globally that support our limbs with enough pressure to be effective.  I have tried just about all of the major brands, including Juzo, Jobst, Sigvaris, Solidea, Medi and Therafirm.  Allegro and Solaris are the only major brands I have yet to try.

However (as an industry norm), these stockings cannot be purchased directly from these manufacturers – only from authorized dealers.

While the term “dealer” may conjure images of shady characters in dark alleys peddling illicit product in ziploc baggies, compression stocking dealers range from mom-and-pop retail pharmacies to online-only providers.

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VIDEO: LD Compression Stocking Tip #1: Use the Floor

5 Jan

Like many people with lymphedema, when I was first diagnosed, I was told to wear compression stockings every waking hour for the rest of my life.  But I wasn’t told anything else about compression stockings.  This video kicks off a featured blog series of compression stocking survival tips called, “A Leg Up: Compression Stocking Tips – What the Doctors Don’t Tell You.”  Throughout the series, I will share information that I wish I had been told the day I was diagnosed.

Get a leg up on your lymphedema – click below to watch or read the transcript that follows.  Please share, comment and sign up for email alerts, so you don’t miss any future tips.  My next tip will be on “Where to Buy Compression Stockings.”

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Mani/Pedi-mania: lymphedema nail care

8 Sep
Manicure

My manicurist, Ligia, painting within the lines much better than I could ever do. Yes, I took this photo with one hand.

Every Sunday afternoon I treat myself to a manicure. Sure, it helps keep me from snagging my compression stockings by maintaining well-groomed nails. But I’m also more Jackson Pollock than DaVinci with polish, so it’s best left to the professionals. Besides, the hot towel and hand massage are the real joy anyway.

As for my pedicure needs, however, I’m on my own. Aside from my innate aversion to showing my feet in public (that pre-dates lymphedema) and my highly ticklish nature, getting a pedi is something to be highly cautious about for those of us with leg lymphedema.

Here’s why a pedicure isn’t worth it for me: Continue reading

Managing Lymph-tivities

3 Sep

Idina MenzelFor most women, getting ready for work is like preparing for opening night on the Broadway stage. All of the makeup, hair and costume acrobatics performed on a daily basis before 7 a.m. would give even Idina Menzel pause.

For women with lymphedema, getting assembled for the day is even more challenging. Our routines include more than the application of foundation, blush, mascara and hairspray.

What are among the most common activities for lymphedema ladies? Remove compression bandages (5 minutes), roll up compression bandages (10 minutes), shower/dry-off/moisturize/elevate legs (30 minutes), conduct manual lymph drainage (20 minutes), don compression garment or garments (15 minutes), choose the least restrictive ensemble for the day – from the feet up (10 minutes). With all of these added lymph-tivities, it is a wonder anyone with this condition ever makes it out the door!

As a working professional who has been living with lymphedema for 16 years, I am continually looking for more efficient ways to manage my health situation. One lymph-tivity that I have eliminated from my morning routine, saving me valuable time: morning shower and post-shower leg elevation. Continue reading