Beyond how I maintain reduction, the other question I am most frequently asked is, “What kind of compression are you wearing?” Back in the first week of August, I shared something that happened to me at the gym with some friends. Today I thought it would be the perfect intro to this blog post about compression.
As most of you know, right around this time is when I got involved in Hydro Fitness as a regular part of my schedule 2x a week. One particular evening, I decided to ditch a nutrition class when nobody showed and instead went to the water class held in the outdoor pool. We all know the profound effects of water on the lymphatic system. It is a natural form of compression. Hence, my enthusiasm for joining the class.
Well, my coach went outside looking for me. I was mortified. She told me she saw me on the treadmill and had gone to make copies of the topic of the day. By the time she returned, I was gone. Then she spoke to woman who was across from me on the next row of treadmills.
Coach: Did you see where that woman went?
Woman: You mean Pink Tights lady?
Coach: Yeah her.
Woman: I see her in here running all the time in those funky tights. I call her the Tights Lady. Nope, she left. You just missed her.
Obviously I was wearing shorts that day, but the pic above briefly shows the pink tights. The thing of it is, I have no idea who that was. Ha! I just found it incredibly amusing and had a good laugh over it. Mostly because a year ago compression was not working at all for me.
What I mean to say is I was extremely frustrated with ill-fitting compression last year. The brand I had before would cut me at the ankles, and my lymph fluid would just swell out like a tennis ball cut in half on either side of my ankles. It was horrible and painful.
Around December of last year, I discovered the perfect brand for me. The stockings came in Petite length, which eliminated the cutting and bunching at the knee crease that I was experiencing before.
Tights Lady Collection
Never thought I would share this in a million years, but here I am doing it. Everyone asks me, so I will say that I use Juzo Soft in 30-40 mmHg – Petite. All of the below pics are from that brand. Available on any on-line compression store. I just happen to use the Compression Stockings website, but there are many to choose from.
Back story on the purple ones. Normally I put on my water shoes in the locker room, but one evening I walked straight out to the pool.
The whole class was staring at me. It took me a minute to figure out why. Finally, the instructor said “Those socks are super cool! Where can I buy them?” I said “Sorry, these are medical grade. You need a doctor’s prescription.” Another lady said “I can’t buy them at a retail store?” I said “NOPE!” Ha! 😃
The navy ones do a nice camouflage of LE when wearing jeans. At least I like to think so.
My husband named them. How original. Ha!
Yes, I wear my compression even to the beach. The hottest days are when you need compression the most.
Those are just a few of my favorites.
From the original blog post Lymphedema Management Starter Pack, see the following:
- Once you complete CDT Phase 1, your therapist will talk to you about your compression options for Phase 2.
- Options may include the following:
- Continue using short-stretch bandages
- Compression stockings (Quick Compression 101 link from the Lymphatic Education & Research Network)
- Compression alternatives like those with Velcro
- Your compression options are totally up to you. There is no right or wrong way. It may depend on your budget and what your insurance approves. Doesn’t matter which one you pick, just stick with it!
- Yes, it will be horrible in the summer. Too bad. Heat affects Lymphedema, and you will swell more without them.
- Don’t buy compression before your CDT is completed. If you buy them too soon, they’ll just fall down. Waste of money.
Additional Compression Tips
- There is no “one size fits all” compression solution. Just because your neighbor wears compression 23/7, doesn’t me you have to and vice versa. Don’t freak out! Determine your own individual needs.
- Don’t let a General Practitioner doctor send you to a chain store to buy compression. CDT Phase 1 ideally needs to be completed first. Slapping compression on top of a non-reduced limb could be very painful. See the Compression 101 video from LERN above.
- If you choose compression stockings for daytime wear, please read tips #8-#17 from Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Compression Stockings. This is a GREAT READ! I especially found the tip for hosing down your compression on hot summer days with cool water very helpful.
- If your compression stockings slide down, there are body glue or body adhesive products that can help keep them in place. Try the Lymphedema Products website to get started.
- For nighttime compression, I personally use the Solaris Tribute. It takes less than a minute to slide on both legs. My legs really shrink. There are many brands and options for nighttime compression if it is needed. The most cost effective nighttime option is simply to wear the bandages to bed. Again, make an informed decision based on your insurance and budget requirements.
Just recently I invested in some Nike compression pants. I found them at the outlet, and they really help on top of my Juzo to exercise harder. Hope to use them in a 5K in November.
So what, you might ask, are the fruits of my compression labor?
Reduction!! I am approaching the one year anniversary of when I decided enough was enough and started this journey. The circumference of my calf on my worst LE leg has reduced from 16 in to 14 3/4 in, or approximately 37.5 cm.
I’ll close the way I always do. I am just a patient trying to Stay Lymphie Strong just like everybody else. Compression compliance has been critically important to my reduction and maintenance success. I cannot stress that enough. Remember, I have had LE 21 years in the right leg and 8 years in the left.
I hope you have found this information to be helpful as a cheat sheet for what you need to get going. I wish I had had it when I first got started.
Please discuss all treatment plans and strategies with your healthcare professional. Feel free to share your compression tips with me! I’m always learning too.
Remember, Stay Lymphie Strong!