Tag Archives: Britta Vander Linden

Sexy (and Safe) Support for Lymphedema

6 Sep

Sexy is usually not a word that comes to mind when you think lymphedema. Compression garments. Pneumatic pumps. Bandages. Accessories like these are not likely to be spotted in Vogue’s Fall Fashion Preview.

But last weekend, I met a woman who can make any lymphie feel attractive – and improve their lymphatic flow – by starting with one of the first things they put on in the morning – a bra.

When you have lymphedema or are at risk for developing lymphedema, it is suggested that you avoid clothing or jewelry that restrains lymphatic flow. One of the biggest flow offenders? Underwire bras. The wires, intended to support and shape the breast, can dig into lymphatic vessels, encouraging the buildup of lymphatic fluid in a limb.

So what’s a fashion-forward lymphie to do?

One option might be to let the “girls” go free. At home on the weekends? Absolutely. At the office presenting in front of your staff? Not recommended.

Another option is a well-fitted, wireless bra. Finding a bra – any bra- that fits comfortably is a feat. Finding one without a wire that fits well and looks sexy? That’s gold medal worthy.

Meet the Olympic champion of wireless bra fitting – Ilissa Manes of Peach.

Ilissa

Ilissa Manes, Peach Personal Stylist, showing me Peach’s bralette line.

I met Ilissa at a recent “Peach Party” where she introduced me to a revolutionary approach to bra shopping. Imagine that you could bra shop from home, receive a custom fit and send the bra back for free, if you don’t like it. That’s Peach.

(Before you ask – No, I am not receiving any compensation from Peach. But when I come across a good product, I try to share it.)

How does Peach work?

Stylists like Ilissa will either come to your home to measure you or they will talk you through measuring yourself via an online chat service such as Face Time or Skype. And Peach doesn’t just measure your width and cup size and call it a day. Peach has a 10-point measuring system that is designed to help provide you with the perfect-fitting bra.

Here’s the bonus. Peach has a line of wireless bras that not only feel good, they look good too. Some of the styles even offer well hidden pockets to hold your post-mastectomy prosthesis. I prefer the bralettes – designed for – ahem – less well-endowed women. Each design has an elegant style, more feminine than most other brands on the market.

Peaches

An assortment of bra styles on display at the “Peach Party” I attended.

Thanks to Peach’s new technology and customer service approach, there is no need to accept anything less than a spectacularly supportive bra that makes you feel attractive too.

How much does Peach cost?

The consultation and fitting are free. The price points for Peach’s various bras range from $30 to $75. Not inexpensive. But as you consider your bra budget, remember all those ill-fitting bras stuffed in the back of your second dresser drawer.

Good news – Ilissa has agreed to offer a special discount of 10% off the purchase price for all orders made within the next 60 days (by November 4th, 2016), if you mention Lymphedema Diary or my name, Britta Vander Linden.

Most importantly, no matter where you lingerie shop, consider the cost of developing or worsening your lymphedema. Ensure that your bra is “lifting its weight” as a partner in your health. Impeding your lymphatic flow with bras that pinch and bind is not a good investment.

Sound Peachy?
If you’re interested in learning more about Peach, you’re welcome to contact Ilissa directly at Ilissa.peach@gmail.com. Visit her website by clicking here.

PeachParty

The ladies and me (far right) showing off our Peaches! A bra that looks and feels good to the lymphatic system sure does make you smile!

Comments
Have a bra you love that keeps your lymphatic fluid moving? Please share in the comments section of this blog post!

Summer and Lymphedema: Relax and discover

31 May
20160529_140119

The departure board at Dulles airport, waiting for my flight to Paris.

Memorial Day in America is a solemn occasion, but it marks the unofficial start to summer in the United States. As most Americans shed heavy clothes and head for the beach with their family and friends, those of us with lymphedema brace ourselves…and feel isolated.

Our enemy – heat – has arrived.  We scour the stores (unsuccessfully) for summer pants that aren’t cropped or in some other way designed to reveal our compression stockings and swollen legs.  We seek shelter in air-conditioned rooms.  We hope and pray that our “summer swelling” will go back down when the cooler temps return in the fall.

Lymphedema can make us feel like a prisoner in our own bodies.  Especially in the warmer temps.  This summer – try not to let it.

It’s hard to believe that growing up (pre-lymphedema), summer was my favorite season.  But I didn’t love summer because of the heat.  I loved it because summer was freedom.  I could do what I wanted with my time.  Be with my friends.  Practice with my synchronized swimming team.  Go out on dates. Go to the movies.

Continue reading

A Snow Day….for Your Legs!

24 Jan
Freedom

Little me enjoying the white stuff after the Blizzard of ’79. Now THAT was a snow day.

Thanks to Winter Storm Jonas and the nearly 30” of snow he left in his wake, I and millions of others along the east coast have been holed up in our homes for 36 hours and counting.  

With nowhere to go and a new book awaiting me on my Kindle, I decided to give my legs a snow day too.  No compression stockings.  Bare legged.  A break from the normal 16 hours a day spent cooped up in tight, thick nylon-spandex, from toes to tummy.

What a glorious day!  Toes wiggling.  Thighs rubbing against cozy Cuddl Duds softness.  No pinching, pulling, or squeezing. Freedom!

Don’t wait for a “Snowmaggedon” to give your legs a day off.  If you are able, try letting  them “air out” for a day, a day of freedom, while still maintaining lymphatic flow.

Some suggestions:

  • Take a load off.  Limit the time you spend standing.  Keep your legs elevated above your heart as much as possible.  The natural effect of gravity will facilitate lymphatic flow.  When cooking and preparing meals, try sitting on a stool or chair.  Logically, spending significant time on your feet without compression is not recommended.

  • College Living Essentials Zero Gravity Perfect ChairKick your feet up.  Literally.  Find a chair that lifts your legs up while taking pressure off of your back.  Watch a movie or read a book while compression-stocking-free.

  • Hydrate your legs.   Pampering your skin is a luxury you don’t have while confined to compression stockings; so take advantage of this time.  Every few hours, apply lotion to your legs, working it in with upward strokes to encourage lymphatic flow.  And don’t forget your feet!  I recommend Eucerin Smoothing Repair for Dry Skin or Medi Night Creme.

  • sock2Wear cozy socks.  Let your feet experience what normal feet do – the luxury of soft fabric directly against the skin.  Choose a style of sock that does not bind at the top, cutting off lymphatic flow.  Diabetic socks are made with this in mind.  Non-binding socks made by Sockwell (pictured right), Soft Fit and Softop are available through Footsmart.com or Amazon.

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Tip #6: For Women Only — Lymphedema and Yeast Infections

28 May

Although June 21st is the calendar start of summer, Memorial Day (in America) marks the unofficial start. For the average person, the season means fun, sun and sandals.  For those of us with lymphedema, it can mean swelling, sweat, and praying for September to come early.

When you are a lymphie, heat is a four letter word.

Putting on and then wearing thick, tight compression stockings all day, every day is challenging enough.  Add eighty-plus-degree-heat and a bucket of humidity, and we are ready to volunteer for the crew of ‘Ultimate Survival Alaska.’

For women (like me) who must wear full-pantyhose compression stockings, the most unpleasant hazard of the summer heat can be yeast infections.

Yeast infections are not listed as a side-effect on stocking product materials.  Neither is your regular doctor likely to warn you about them, because (GROAN) the medical profession lacks focus and funding on our field of study.

Yet I assure you, yeast infections and pantyhose compression stockings go hand-in-hand.  Yeast thrives in warm, moist places, causing a fungal infection resulting in itching, redness, swelling, burning and a discharge that looks like cottage cheese.  Summer fun, it is not.

So what can you do to avoid developing this uncomfortable medical condition on top of an already uncomfortable medical condition?

  • Go crotchless.  
    Juzo Soft with Open Crotch

    Juzo’s Soft open crotch compression stockings (no, this is not a picture of me!)

    Victoria isn’t the only one who knows this secret. Some manufacturers, for an extra fee, can remove the crotch from stockings.  Juzo offers this as a regular option in their Soft product line.  Unless Dr. Ruth is on the board of Juzo, one would surmise there was a medical function to this design.

An open crotch promotes a cool, dry and airy — how shall we say….”environment.”  Don’t negate these positive effects by wearing tight pants or synthetic panties.  In hot and humid weather, skirts and cotton panties (or none!) are the way to go.  In addition, be sure to change out of wet swimsuits and gym clothes immediately after a workout.

Continue reading

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

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.”

Continue reading

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

Riding in comfort: Finding the right ‘Lymphedemamobile’

11 Jun

Getting lymphedema wasn’t my choice. And yet, nearly every choice I have made since getting lymphedema has been made with the condition in mind.

Shoe shopping? Lymphedema is there to guide me to the non-binding, sensible flat. Sadly, no Jimmy Choos for the fat feet.

Groceries? Lymphedema makes the responsible low-sodium, low-fat selections for me (Although I sometimes manage to slip a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips into the cart).

Naturally, when it was time for Luke and me to pick out a new car, my lymphedema was included in the decision-making process.

TrafficCar choice is important, especially for people with lymphedema. Americans spend nearly three hours a day in their cars (That’s a lot of time for lymphatic fluid to collect in the feet, ankles and legs.)

Car manufacturers offer loads of amenities designed to keep drivers and passengers comfortable – like heated seats, power adjustable lumbar support and dual zone climate control. While these “add-ons” are attractive luxuries, the only features that lymphedema cares about are seat height and leg room

Let’s take them one at a time. Continue reading