Kathy Bates – “The Human Side” + Giveaway!

Kathy BatesAcademy Award winner Kathy Bates has earned 40 wins and 68 nominations including Emmys, Golden Globes and an Oscar. Over the past year, Kathy has taken on a new project – becoming the Lymphatic Education & Research Network’s (LE&RN) National Spokesperson. After being diagnosed with ovarian and breast cancer, Kathy Bates underwent a bilateral mastectomy to remove 19 lymph nodes from her left armpit and three from right. She developed lymphedema shortly after and has to wear a compression armsleeve for the rest of her life unless a cure is found.

To help spread awareness of breast cancer and lymphedema this month, we are giving away an armsleeve each week. Check out the giveaway at the end of this post to enter for your chance to win.

Every day, Kathy connects with others suffering from lymphedema and their families by writing letters to thank them and comfort them. She has made great strides in building awareness and education. She recently spoke at a two-day NIH symposium that took place on September 29-30. Bill Repicci, Executive Director of LE&RN, believes that this conference is a turning point in the field of lymphatics.

In her speech, “Lymphedema: The Human Side,” Bates explains that she was shocked to find out that millions of people suffer from lymphatic diseases, not just breast cancer survivors. Many people are born with it or develop it later in life. With about 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide, it is surprising that most primary physicians haven’t heard of this condition. To make matters worse, many people are not even aware they have lymphedema and suffer in silence. Without treatment, lymphedema symptoms can get worse and infection may occur, which can cause serious complications.

Many doctors who are aware of lymphedema don’t understand the severity of the condition, brushing it off as a “cosmetic issue” or blame symptoms on obesity or other causes. One woman suffered for eight years before being diagnosed with stage 3 lymphedema. Another patient, Marie Apodaca, was told by her doctor that she had to lose weight. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was accidentally hit with a cardboard box on her leg, which caused a clear liquid to drain out of her leg instead of blood. After months of therapy, Marie was able to remove 35 lbs of lymph from her legs.

Managing symptoms is no walk in the park either. Finding a lymphedema therapist isn’t easy. Since there aren’t many, it can be hard to find one that’s available or is located in your area. This can result in long commutes, which can aggravate symptoms. Zalee Harris who suffers from severely swollen arms can’t get regular treatments because of a long waiting list, causing her to be in more pain.

LE&RN focuses on raising awareness and education, but even more so, encouraging people to stop hiding their condition and share their story. Kathy took the Face of Lymphedema Challenge to inspire people to find comfort by sharing stories and to know they’re not alone. Dancer Pearl-Ann Hinds developed LE and decided to choreograph a dance dedicated to lymphedema called “Hello World.” She says “If I continued to hide the reality, the power to change the legs of future generations would be lost.”

Seven-year-old Emma Detlefsen was born with lymphedema in both legs and often battles infections that cause her to be hospitalized. This inspiring seven-year-old appeared before the NY State Legislator last year and convinced lawmakers to pass a bill for research funding that had been languishing for 12 years. She was awarded with the LE&RN Youth Ambassador Award on September 19th at the 5K Walk to Fight Lymphedema & Lymphatic Diseases on the Brooklyn Bridge. Kathy hopes that by bringing Emma’s message to us, it can inspire “even one of us” to accomplish her challenge and hopes you will join the fight for education and research.

Mediven Harmony Armsleeve Giveaway

bld-harmony-giveaway-pinterest For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, each week we will be giving away a compression armsleeve. Every week, we will feature a different brand. This week, you can win a Mediven Harmony armsleeve in your choice of compression level, size and color. To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter or tweet a message. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button then go to your profile. Click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help. Good luck!! Remember, you can enter once (per entry type) every day. The contest for the Mediven Harmony armsleeve ends Friday, October 16th at midnight. The winner will be announced the following Monday. Don’t forget to check back next week for our next giveaway!

 

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RESOURCES

Kathy Bates – Official Website Kathy Bates’ Secret Health Struggle – The Doctors “How I Turned My Lymphedema Into Something Positive” – People Magazine Kathy Bates Awards and Nominations Kathy Bates on Larry King Kathy Bates Hosts the American Cancer Society Ball Lymph Nodes and Cancer – American Cancer Society Hello World – Lymphedema Dance by Pearl-Ann Hinds Emma’s Youth Ambassador Award Acceptance Speech Key Speakers from the NIH Conference in DC

Lymphedema Treatment Act Update + Giveaway!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, BrightLife Direct will be spreading awareness about a condition that many breast cancer survivors face after a mastectomy – lymphedema. This condition refers to mild, moderate or severe swelling (edema), and is often caused by the removal of lymph nodes during cancer treatment. Blockage in the lymphatic system results in the buildup of lymph fluid, which is why swelling occurs.

Lymphedema can develop in the legs, arms and other parts of the body. Some people are born with this condition and others develop it. Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema. Breast cancer survivors who develop lymphedema have to wear compression garments over their arms and hand everyday to increase circulation to help manage their condition.

In addition to sharing information on lymphedema this month, we will be doing a weekly giveaway in honor of the many brave Breast Cancer survivors. See below for more information and your chance to win!

Today we want to share information and updates on the Lymphedema Treatment Act.

According to lymphedema specialist, Sue Enerson, many of her patients who are covered by Medicare are only allowed one visit after being diagnosed with lymphedema and more often than not, compression garments are not covered. The financial burden on lymphedema patients is huge. Patients often require frequent visits to doctors and lymphedema therapists to receive treatment and also to learn how to manage lymphedema at home. Patients must also purchase a supply of compression garments to wear continuously, for the rest of their lives, which comes at no small cost.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act is a federal bill that will improve insurance coverage for treatment, mandating that insurance companies provide the medical supplies to patients that are required to manage lymphedema symptoms (including compression garments, bandages, etc.). This in turn will reduce the total healthcare costs associated with lymphedema by reducing the number of complications and disabilities that result from poor treatment of lymphedema symptoms. Currently, most insurance policies including Medicare do not cover lymphedema treatment.

Seniors who suffer from lymphedema should not be punished for taking the necessary steps to treat their condition,” said Reichert. “By rectifying Medicare’s failure to cover compression garments we give seniors their best chance and real hope to fight back against this chronic disease. I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this fight against lymphedema. – Congressman Reichert

On March 26, 2015, the Lymphedema Treatment Act was introduced to the current Congress, including a “Findings” section to explain the need for medical coverage. Treatment for lymphedema includes manual lymphatic drainage, wearing compression garments and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which the bill will make the standard of care for lymphedema.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act currently has over 100 cosponsors. BrightLife Direct as well as many other compression garment companies are showing their support for the Lymphedema Treatment Act. Compression garment makers Sigvaris, Jobst, Medi, Juzo, Solaris and LympheDIVAS also support the bill.

How can you help? Contact your members of Congress to make sure they support the bill. Learn more here: http://lymphedematreatmentact.org/

Win A Prize Every Week!

juzo-soft-bc-giveaway

While there is no cure for lymphedema yet, compression garments help to provide relief. Every Friday during the month of October, we will be hosting a giveaway to win the featured armsleeve of the week. To kick of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this week we are offering a Juzo Soft Compression Armsleeve. Juzo Soft is available in six different colors as well as a variety of new colors for fall and winter. Juzo Soft Armsleeves are available in three compression levels and in a variety of sizing options. Winners can choose the color, compression level and size.  Don’t forget to keep checking our blog for your chance to win!

You can enter below by logging in with an email address or through Facebook and following BrightLife Direct on Twitter, answering a question, commenting on the blog post or by tweeting a message in the giveaway box below. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button, then go to your profile. Next, click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help.

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RESOURCES

Breast Cancer Navigator

Shop Lymphedema Products

Managing Lymphedema

Kathy Bates – Life With Lymphedema

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month

Sigvaris Supports the Lymphedema Treatment Act

Congressman Reichert’s Involvement in Reintroducing the Bill

Common Measuring Mistakes To Avoid

 

  1. Do not measure late in the day

Everyday our legs and feet swell. This is normal. For this reason, it is important to measure for compression stockings early in the morning to get the most accurate fit. If you measure later in the day or at night, you may purchase a size that is too big and will not get the maximum benefits of compression. The same applies for armsleeves as lymphedema swelling can increase during the day – measure in the morning!

  1. Do not estimate – be precise!

Compression socks and sleeves are not a one-size-fits-all product. In fact, a size medium in one brand could be a large in another. Sizes can even vary within brands as well. This is why it is important to check the measurements. You may think you need to “fit” into this sock, but in reality there’s another one that matches your measurements better. If you find yourself between sizes, try another brand or style. You can also try our Size Machine to determine the what size garment you need. If you have any questions about measuring or sizing, you can call our customer service team Monday through Friday from 9-6PM for help. Try to measure in centimeters as much as possible for more precise measurements. This may help you if you are struggling to see where your measurements fall on the size chart.

  1. Do not try to take your measurements yourself

Lets face it. We’ve all tried to carry in too many groceries at one time and ended up dropping everything. Sometimes, an extra set of hands makes all the difference. When measuring for compression socks or armsleeves, it’s important to have measurements that are as accurate as possible. This is extremely hard to do by yourself. Getting the placement right and bending at odd angles to try and measure your leg or arm doesn’t exactly scream “fun.” If you can, try and get someone to help take your measurements. That way you can be sure that you’re getting the right size without dealing with the hassle of returning socks that don’t fit. Our knowledgeable staff is available for fitting appointments if you would like help determining your size. All you have to do is ask!

  1. Do not guess where the measurements should be taken

Medical compression sock sizing is based on the leg circumference. Knee high socks require ankle and calf measurements. Always measure the smallest part of your ankle. You do not want to measure over your anklebone. You do want to measure around the largest part of your calf. It is also important to measure from the floor to the bend behind your knee. For thigh highs and pantyhose (waist high), you will also need to measure around your upper thigh, about 3” below the crease of the buttocks. Some pantyhose may also require the length, your height and weight, or hip measurements. If you are measuring for an armsleeve, you need to get three measurements: around your wrist, right below your elbow and around your upper arm (just below your arm pit). Some brands like Mediven or Juzo will have you measure the length of your arm as well. When you are measuring, make sure that your arm is bent slightly. You will want to measure the outside length from your wrist to the upper arm measurement. For gloves and gauntlets, simply measure around your wrist, avoiding the wrist bone, and the palm of your hand above your thumb.

  1. Do Not Choose To Wear The Wrong Size

Wearing the wrong size can result in more compression being applied than is desired. You shouldn’t wear something that you need to fold down at the top to fit your leg, or something that feels like it’s cutting off your circulation. This can be harmful and complicate existing conditions. Check for special sizing if you have a hard time finding something that’s comfortable. There are petite sizes, plus sizes, socks for wide calves and stockings made for longer legs. There are even compression stockings to wear during pregnancy, socks for diabetes and garments designed for men and women with sensitive skin. If you are really struggling to find a comfortable compression garment, don’t forget that customs are an option! Remember, sizing between brands is not universal. If you find that your measurements aren’t matching any of the size charts, try a different brand. Some collections run longer, some run shorter and others are smaller or larger. You can always give us a call at 877-545-8585 if you can’t find what you’re looking for or have sizing questions.

Have a Happy, Healthy Fourth of July!

Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and fainting, which is the last thing you want to happen right before fireworks. During the summer months, it is extremely important to take care of your body, especially when you’re getting blasted with the heat from the grill or running around with the kids.  Here are a couple of delicious Fourth of July inspired drinks and foods to keep you and your family happy and healthy.

bb7440_6fbed6e909dd992004f242e0d3f5ee40.jpg_srb_p_630_945_75_22_0.50_1.20_0It’s not the Fourth of July without watermelon!! This delicious fruit is 92% water, which is extremely important during the summer to avoid dehydration.  Some other foods that are great for hydration are celery, cucumber and iceberg lettuce. You can get dehydrated from not consuming enough water, eating foods high in sodium and running around in the heat for a long time. To keep your body in check, make yourself some Fourth of July inspired fruit infused water.  Add pineapple, strawberries and blueberries for a fun Fourth of July drink that everyone will love.

Do’s and Don’ts

DO: Go ahead and indulge!!! Chocolate has been scientifically proven to have cardiovascular benefits and can help prevent heart attacks.  According to a study from the University of Aberdeen, “Researchers discovered that those people who had a higher intake of chocolate were 11-percent less likely to suffer a heart attack than people who ate no chocolate at all. People who regularly consumed chocolate were also 25-percent less likely to die from a heart issue and 23-percent less likely to suffer a stroke.”

DON’T: It’s only natural to cheat on your diet a little bit on the weekend or when you’re on vacation, but the important part is making smart choices. According to a new study, eating a lot of trans fats can negatively affect your memory. Trans fats are known for raising the levels of  “bad cholesterol” and lowering the “good cholesterol” in your body. If that’s not enough to curb your cravings, trans facts may even cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to problems with memory loss. “The researchers discovered a fascinating link between trans fats and memory: for every gram of trans fats consumed on a daily basis, the memory performance of the men dropped significantly. In fact, men whose diet included a lot of trans fats (16-grams or more) were able to recall 12 fewer words than men who ate less trans fats.”

Make sure not to overhydrate your body, especially if you are playing sports.  exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), or overhydration, prevents the kidneys from producing enough sodium, which results in the cells swelling. Although it is rare, some athletes have died from overhydration, yet no one has died on the field from dehydration. For the athletes in your life, make a dish with cabbage, artichokes, Brussels sprouts or turnips. They are great to boost cell renewal, aid in bone health, regulate blood pressure and for muscle performance.

red-white-blueberry-smoothie-550-3

For a real breakfast of champions, make a Firecracker Smoothie with bananas, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries to get tons of nutrients in a quick and easy breakfast that tastes amazing. Bananas have lots of Vitamin C and Potassium, which are good for managing your blood pressure and for your muscles. Blueberries help with memory loss, eyesight, and help relieve dry skin. Strawberries are filled with Vitamin C and are great for strengthening your immune system. Raspberries are also a great source of Vitamin C and fiber and are beneficial for diabetes management because they help to keep your blood sugar stable.

Have a happy Fourth of July!!

Using the New “Easy Reorder” Button

We’re always making updates to our site to make it easier to navigate and easier to shop. Over the past year, we’ve heard customers ask for a simple way to repeat a previous order – with the same size and color – and we listened. Now, with just a few clicks, you can re-order anything from a previous order.  This feature is available on both our regular desktop, and mobile sites.  Here’s a step-by-step guide to Easy Reorder.

  1. Log into your account by selecting the “Log In” button in the top right hand corner of the menu. Note: you must be a Registered User of our website to be able to use the Easy Reorder function. If you have checked out as a guest in the past, you can call our customer service team and have your account switched to a registered account – 1-877-545-8585.
  2. Select “Easy Reorder” from the My Account screen.BrightLife My Account
  3. You will now see all of your previous orders on BrightLife Direct, organized by year via the Date drop-down menu. You can scroll through to see which one of your past orders you’d like to order again. In this case, I really loved the Therafirm Pantyhose I ordered on May 11th, and want to get a few more pairs in the same size and color. To add this exact item to my cart, I simply click “Quick Reorder.” If you already have other items in your cart, uncheck the “Clear Existing Items in Cart” button. If you click “Quick Reorder” and have this box checked, the system will wipe out all of the items in your shopping cart and add ONLY the items from the previous order. BrightLife Reorder
  4. You will now see that my Shopping Cart contains JUST the Therafirm Light Support Pantyhose in Natural, Size Large.  If you want to adjust the number of items, change the number under Qty, and click the gray Update Cart button.  To proceed to the final checkout page, click the orange Checkout button, or PayPal.BrightLife Shopping Cart

New, Comfortable Shoes for Summer!

Dr. Comfort Sandals for Men and Women

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start planning vacations and swap out all of the heavy jackets hanging in your closet for t-shirts and dresses. Everyone knows how uncomfortable it can be on those long days in the hot sun with shoes that are rubbing and lots of sightseeing left to do. If you spend a lot of time outside on your feet during the warmer months, Dr. Comfort has your solution: sandals for men and women that are extremely comfortable and padded.

Dr. Comfort was founded in 2002 and makes diabetic footwear that is sold all around the world. With a focus on style, comfort and quality, they have created therapeutic shoes for casual and dress. Dr. Comfort shoes are made with the finest quality and designed with your comfort in mind. These shoes are great for those with diabetes, arthritis, sensitive feet, plantar fasciitis, or for those with swelling in their feet. Dr. Comfort offers slippers, shoes, sandals and more to keep you comfortable during a family outing or a business meeting.

For Women:

Dr. Comfort Women’s Sharon Sandal

Sharon-Black-Shoe-MedThe sophisticated Sharon sandal features exotic textures with beautiful jewels on the top and comes with a removable footbed for custom orthotics. The sole is extremely durable to provide shock absorption. The Sharon sandal is available in Black, Green and Peanut Brittle, in sizes 5-11 with a medium/wide width.

Dr. Comfort Women’s Shannon Sandal

Shannon-Black-MedThese comfortable sandals feature a cushioned footbed, built-in arch support and a dual density midsole. The Shannon sandal also provides shock absorption and helps to keep your feet dry and cool. They come in Red, Black and Camel in sizes 5-11 with a wide width.

Dr. Comfort Women’s Rachel Sandal

Rachel-Black-medFeatures a removable footbed for custom orthotics and a double Velcro closure for comfort and support. This therapeutic shoe has a wraparound strap in the back for support and security. Made with rich, exotic textures out of the finest quality. The Rachel sandal is available in Black and Peanut Brittle in sizes 5-11 with a medium/wide width.

For Men:

Dr. Comfort Men’s Collin Sandal

Collin-Camel-MedThis lightweight, diabetic shoe helps to correct posture as well as alleviate foot and back pain. Features a dual density midsole and cushioned footbed for the support and comfort you need. It comes in Camel, Chocolate and Black in sizes 8-13 with an extra wide width.

Dr. Comfort Men’s Connor Sandal

Connor-Black-MedFeatures a secure Velcro closure, a dual density midsole, a cushioned footbed, built-in arch support and shock absorption. This diabetic sandal is great for those with wide feet or to relieve plantar fasciitis symptoms. Available in Chocolate, Camel and Black in sizes 8-13 with an extra wide width.

Dr. Comfort Men’s Greg Sandal

Greg-Brown-MedThis lightweight sandal features a removable back strap to convert to a slide. The Greg sandal comes with a removable footbed for custom orthotics. Features a dual density midsole and helps to correct posture as well as alleviate pain in your feet, legs and back. Available in Black and Brown in sizes 7-14 with a medium/wide width.

It is extremely important to take care of your feet, especially if you have diabetes, to protect yourself from a future complication. Dr. Comfort is one of the most popular orthopedic shoe brands for a reason. See for yourself why so many people wear Dr. Comfort.

Shop Dr. Comfort Now

Stop Snoring and Start Wearing Compression Socks

Did you know that there are a few simple things you can do to stop snoring loudly at night? It’s as easy as wearing compression socks during the day, or changing the position you typically sleep in. If you’re sick and tired of snoring and keeping your loved ones awake, here are some tips to help you sleep better, without modifying your routine much.

Although snoring is a somewhat normal occurrence, your body is trying to tell you something. Most people don’t recognize the symptoms of a sleeping disorder early on to be able to treat it properly. If you often snore loudly when you sleep, it can be a sign of sleep apnea, a condition that occurs when you stop and start breathing while you rest. This may happen hundreds of times a night and can last for 10-20 seconds each time. This prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, which is why you feel slow or tired the next day, no matter how long you slept the night before.

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, irregular breathing while sleeping, morning headaches, memory or learning problems, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, being unable to concentrate, and feeling tired or have trouble staying awake during the day. Sleep apnea may also be the reason why you feel depressed, irritable or experience mood swings. It is important to understand the difference between snoring and a sleeping disorder to make sure there isn’t a serious problem going on. Sleep apnea can cause diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and even increase your risk of a stroke if left untreated.

Whether you have a sleeping disorder or if you are just a loud snorer, there are tons of things you can do to get a better night’s sleep. Start by wearing compression socks during the day. Those with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) wear compression socks to reduce the how much fluid builds up in their legs during the day. At night, this fluid moves into the neck area, which can lead to sleep apnea and snoring. If you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom a lot, wearing compression socks will also help to reduce this. Compression stockings are also great to energize tired, achy legs, reduce swelling, improve blood flow and to wear while traveling or exercising. Choose from tons of everyday and dress styles in knee highs, thigh highs and pantyhose options. After a long day of being on your feet, you will love how great your legs feel.

“The Toronto study found that by the end of two weeks, patients with CVI who used compression stockings cut the number of apnea episodes in half while patients who didn’t use the socks showed no change.”

Some quick and easy things you can do to stop snoring is to use a humidifier when you sleep, take a shower or change your sleeping position. Taking a shower helps to open your nasal passages, which eliminates a stuffy nose and helps you breath better. Dry air can lead to snoring, so try using a humidifier to cut down on snoring. One of the best solutions to stop snoring is to change how you sleep.  Start sleeping on your side instead of your back. When you lay on your back it makes it harder to breathe as the airway narrows, which may be the source of your snoring. Use nasal spray before you go to bed to keep your nasal passages open so you can breathe better at night.

A couple of other things you can do for a more long-term solution are to stop smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. Another key factor is to keep a clean house because dust often stirs up allergies and can also lead to snoring. Talk to your doctor to find the best sleeping solution for you. Over 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and most aren’t even aware of it. For more information, check out the resources below.

Resources

What Is Sleep Apnea?

American Sleep Apnea Association

BrightLife Direct – Compression Socks

Click Here If You Are New To Compression

Men’s Health: The No-Snore Sleep Solution

Blog: Sleep Through The Night With Compression Socks

National Lymphedema Network #LymphChat on CDT

Yesterday, the National Lymphedema Network (NLN) hosted its first ever #LymphChat on Twitter to discuss treatment and surgical options for people with lymphedema. Special guests Nicole Stout and Dr. Jay Granzow led the discussion covering Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), compression garments and other treatment options. Nicole Stout is a lymphedema therapist, researcher and NLN board member. Dr. Jay Granzow is a microsurgeon who specializes in the surgical treatment of lymphedema, including Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis (LVA), Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT), Suction-Assisted Protein Lipectomy (SAPL) and more. This chat provided great insight as people shared their lymphedema experiences, questions and management tips.

The first topic covered the components of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which is the most common non-invasive lymphedema treatment. CDT is the first thing that the National Lymphedema Network recommends. Overall, a lot of people found CDT to be effective but difficult. Nicole Stout noted that using compression garments and taking good care of yourself can reduce the number of sessions needed. “CDT has many components and requires intervention from a skilled therapist. After treatment, patients keep up with CDT on their own,” she added. Complete Decongestive Therapy has four components: Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, skin care and exercise.

Manual Lymph Drainage is a big part of lymphedema care. It is very time consuming, but can make patients feel a lot better. Depending on the patient, some do their MLD routinely, others use pumps at home, and some don’t practice MLD at all. Using compression garments and pump therapy are very beneficial, as well as practicing deep breathing to help stimulate the lymphatic system. Check out this video on manual lymphatic drainage for more information. Remember to stay hydrated before and after MLD to avoid feeling sick or tired.

There are a lot of compression options you can use to manage lymphedema, including elastic/day garments, bandages and bandage alternatives. One #LymphChat participant shared that a custom Juzo armsleeve and glove work well during the day, and wears the JoViPak armsleeve at night. Compression armsleeves help to prevent and treat lymphedema in the arm, but brands like Juzo, JoViPak, and Solaris offer compression garments to treat lymphedema in other body parts – including the legs and trunk area. BrightLife Direct offers tons of brands, colors and compression levels to choose from so you can find the perfect garment for you.

Skin care is also extremely important for Complete Decongestive Therapy and preventing infections. You can also wear silver liners, or compression stockings that are made with silver to fight off bacteria and prevent infections. During the day, you can use Medi Day Gel to moisturize your skin. Apply it before you put on your compression garment to make it easier to don. Don’t worry, this gel will not damage your garments like other lotions may. Some moisturizers break down the material due to the lycra in the garment and reduce its effectiveness and breathability, so make sure you use a garment-friendly gel! Medi Day Gel quickly absorbs into your skin to avoid sticky or greasy residue. At night, you can sooth your legs with Medi Night Creme. It also helps to treat venous insufficiency.

The last component of CDT is exercising, which helps to stimulate the lymphatic system.  Lymphedema patient, Amy Santiago says that opening up the Lymph channels (neck/collar, armpits, stomach and breathing) help her before starting cardio or training. One way to open up these channels before exercising is with Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). Swimming, yoga and snowshoeing are all great exercises for lymphedema patients.

Towards the end of the #LymphChat, participants discussed surgical treatments for Lymphedema. According to Dr. Jay Granzow, Suction-Assisted Protein Lipectomy (SAPL), Lymphatic Venous Anastomosis (LVA) and Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNT) are the most effective lymphedema surgeries. SAPL greatly reduces excess volume in chronic lymphedema patients, and is generally performed in later cases when solids accumulate in the leg or arm. Frequently after SAPL, the use of a compression garment allows you to significantly cut down on CDT, or eliminates the need for it altogether. Other patients, usually in the earlier stages of lymphedema, undergo LVA and VLNT due to excess fluid buildup. You can also combine VLNT and LVA after healing from SAPL to treat solid and fluid components. Compression therapy after these procedures are vital.

Dr. Jay Granzow believes that depending on the patient, each type of surgery can be a success, based on the stage they’re in. As Nicole pointed out, “not just any surgeon can perform these surgeries. Special expertise is needed.” There is a limited number of surgeons that are trained in lymphedema surgery. Although most of Dr. Jay Granzow’s patients have had their surgeries covered by insurance, it depends on your insurance plan. To determine if you qualify for surgery, see a surgeon that specializes in these treatments for an evaluation, as well as a lymphedema therapist to figure out what the best treatment options are for you. Click here for more information on SAPL, VLNT and LVA procedures.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the National Lymphedema Network will continue to host a Twitter Chat, so make sure you follow them on Twitter at @lymphnet and include #lymphchat in your tweets to participate! If you think of any other questions that you would like to ask, email nln@lymphnet.org. The next Twitter Chat will be on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015 about lymphedema and exercise. Don’t miss it!

Additional Resources

Chat with us on Twitter! #LymphChat

BrightLife Direct  |  Nicole Stout  |  Dr. Jay Granzow  |  National Lymphedema Network

MANAGING LYMPHEDEMA

For Lymphedema Awareness Month, we are donating to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN) to support the education and research of lymphedema and lymphatic disease. We are working with blogger Britta Vander Linden to make a difference. During the month of March, you can help us donate 1% of the total purchase price to LE&RN by using the coupon code “DONATE” at checkout.

Britta Vander Linden writes an inspiring blog about her experience with lymphedema. She was diagnosed with primary lymphedema when she was 23 years old. Since then, she has juggled a demanding job and keeping up with her blog, Lymphedema Diary.com, in her spare time. She was inspired to start a blog to connect with others struggling with the same illness. Her blog serves as a network for her and her readers to support and comfort one another. “I felt it was time to share my experiences with others in an effort to try to make their life easier. I hoped to make Lymphedema Diary the resource I wish I had when I was first diagnosed.” Each month, thousands of readers spanning across over 100 countries read her blog. Check out her inspiring story and get tips on how to manage lymphedema.

Before she started Lymphedema Diary, Britta turned to local support groups for help, but they didn’t regularly meet and were located at inconvenient places. A lot of them were made up on breast cancer survivors, so she had a hard time connecting with them because she didn’t feel like they were going through the same thing. Once she got involved on social media, she was able to connect with people all around the world to share tips on anything from finding good therapists to lymphedema management.

Her most recent addition to Lymphedema Diary is a new blog series called “A Leg Up: Compression Stocking Tips–What the Doctors Don’t Tell You.” Those with lymphedema use compression garments every day to manage their condition. Britta says, “No matter the difference in type or severity of lymphedema from one person to another, all of us are struggling to deal with compression garments.  I think that’s why the series has been so popular.”

Britta has been a customer with us for about a year because we have all “Four P’s,” or what she refers to as the four key things every stocking dealer should have: people, price, perks and policies. Juzo Soft Pantyhose in 30-40mmHg is her go-to compression garment because of how soft the fabric is, and because they don’t look like compression tights. According to her, the fabric is very susceptible to snags, however. Britta also suggests the Juzo Dynamic Pantyhose for exercising because they are much more durable. The downside is that they aren’t as fashion-friendly as the Juzo Soft pantyhose, and the thickness of the fabric makes it harder to get the stockings off.

Some other things that Britta has found that help her to manage her lymphedema are regular exercise, getting a healthy amount of sleep, eating a low-sodium diet and staying hydrated. “If I don’t keep up on any one of these habits, I feel it in my legs. For exercise, I prefer swimming, yoga and anything that gets me lifting the legs up and down. In the winter, I enjoy snowshoeing.” She developed a few techniques that help keep her legs stay happy and healthy during a long day at work.

Snowshoe

Check out Britta snowshoeing! This is one of her favorite ways to keep lymph fluid flowing in the winter.

When she was first diagnosed, she underwent six weeks of complete decongestive therapy (CDT). Although she is happy that she did this therapy on both of her legs, the process was exhausting. Between waking up early in the morning and the long commute before work, it wasn’t a good long-term solution. Overall, it was beneficial because she learned a lot about lymphedema care. One thing she doesn’t believe helped her was the acupuncture treatments she tried at about the same time.

There are hundreds of millions of people around the world who are suffering from lymphedema, but there is no cure. LE&RN has done an amazing job over the years in the advocacy, research and education of this condition. You can become a member for only $5 a month and help support the cause year-round. March is a very important month for spreading the word about lymphedema. Many doctors and patients do not know what symptoms to look for in the early stages of lymphedema. LE&RN is working to change this through education. Many people are not aware that the most common cause of lymphedema is cancer treatment. The removal of lymph nodes significantly increases your risk, but there are a couple of things that you can do after cancer treatment that can reduce your risk of lymphedema.

 

Click here to read more about what we’re doing for Lymphedema Awareness Month

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March is Lymphedema Awareness Month!

In honor of Lymphedema Awareness Month, BrightLife Direct is donating part of this month’s sales to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN). This organization utilizes education and research to fight lymphedema and lymphatic disease. We are teaming up with lymphedema blogger, Britta Vander Linden to support the cause. Find out more about LE&RN, Britta’s inspiring story, and some of the causes and symptoms of lymphedema below.

Lymphatic Education and Research Network (LE&RN)

Wendy Chaite founded LE&RN when she became frustrated with the lack of resources available for her daughter, who was born with systemic lymphatic disease. This organization is fighting to find a cure for lymphedema, while assisting in the education and research of this condition along the way. Kathy Bates is currently the spokesperson for LE&RN, and recently appeared on The Doctors to talk about her experience with lymphedema. This summer, Kathy is celebrating her birthday by hosting a 5k Run/Walk to Fight Lymphedema and Lymphatic Diseases in Santa Monica, CA on June 28th. There are tons of events you can get involved with to make a difference. If you live on the east coast, check out the 6th Annual Walk on September 19th on the Brooklyn Bridge!

Every day, LE&RN is helping to find the answers that hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are affected by lymphedema are looking for. Check out their website for the latest research, information and events. You can even ask the experts to find the answer you need. LE&RN is dedicated to answering the questions that most doctors can’t. To this day, there is not much information on lymphedema, and LE&RN is actively working to change this.

LEARN_DinnerCheck out Britta (second from left), her husband, Luke (far left), fellow honorees and members of LE&RN’s staff at a LE&RN event last year. She was honored for her remarkable work on her blog, Lymphedema Diary, and also for her years in support of the LE&RN organization.

About Britta

Britta was diagnosed with primary lymphedema in both of her legs when she was 23 years old. When she first found out she had lymphedema, she was panicked and worried. She had questions about her condition that doctors couldn’t figure out the answers to. Instead it was her dad who came to the rescue to find the answers she was seeking. “He is my Lymphedema Hero” she says. More often than not, when someone is diagnosed with lymphedema, they feel like they are left in the dark. Britta defines lymphedema as “a medical condition that many medical professionals cannot diagnose, do not understand, and are incapable of advising patients about, leaving patients to seek guidance from strangers on blogs.” She thinks that anyone with lymphedema can relate to this statement. LE&RN is working to change this by promoting the education of lymphedema to teach people about the symptoms early on, and about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The same year Brita was diagnosed was the year that LE&RN was founded. Since then, Britta has relied on LE&RN for medical information, resources and hope for a cure. She feels that “LE&RN has done more to put lymphedema on the medical radar and to directly sponsor lymphatic research than any other organization that she is aware.” To this day, LE&RN has done an incredible job of educating and advocating lymphedema.

Although Britta sarcastically describes her condition as mild, it significantly affects her daily life. “I cannot stand up for more than a few minutes without the help of compression stockings.  I begin experiencing pain, swelling, heaviness and sometimes feelings of pins and needles in my legs.  Even when I have the stockings on, I can’t stand for long periods of time.  Lymphedema factors into every aspect of my life –what I wear, how I sleep, when I take a shower, what kind of car I drive, what exercise I do…So no matter the severity level, the effect of lymphedema on a person’s life, self-esteem and pocket book never feels mild.”

About Lymphedema

LE&RN defines lymphedema as “an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin. This swelling, or edema, occurs most commonly in the arm or leg, but it also may occur in other parts of the body including the breast or trunk, head and neck, or genitals.” The lymphatic system helps to maintain your immune system. It can develop in any area of your body where the lymph nodes are not getting enough lymph, which is the fluid in the tissues that builds up due to abnormal flow. Lymphedema usually begins at the farthest part of your limb such as your hand/wrist or in your foot/ankle. If your limbs feel heavy, swelling occurs, your skin feels tight, or if you experience decreased mobility and flexibility in your foot, ankle, wrist or hand, you should contact your doctor immediately. These symptoms may be the start of lymphedema. If this has happened to you before, do not ignore it! Just because the problem may take a backseat for a while, it doesn’t mean that the issue is solved. There is not enough research at this point in time for doctors to immediately point to lymphedema as the cause. A lot of the time, it takes multiple doctors to figure out the problem. LE&RN is working to teach people about lymphedema to catch it early on.

PRIMARY LYMPHEDEMA – People who have primary lymphedema like Britta are born with an abnormal lymphatic system. Although primary lymphedema is rare, many people are still affected by it. A lot of the time it is hereditary. Primary lymphedema can occur when the lymph nodes form abnormally. This is called congenital lymphedema, or Milroy’s disease. Lymphedema praecox, also known as Meige’s disease, is the most common form of primary lymphedema. It is usually noticed in the lower extremities around puberty, especially in girls, or during pregnancy. Another form of primary lymphedema that occurs around the age of 35 or later is called lymphedema tarda (late-onset lymphedema), which appears in the lower extremities in men and women.

SECONDARY LYMPHEDEMA – When you damage your lymphatic system from trauma, surgery, radiation or infection, secondary lymphedema can occur. This condition is often caused by cancer treatment. Radiation can damage your lymph nodes, which can decrease lymphatic flow. When you are undergoing this type of treatment, make sure to keep an eye out for any changes in skin color, redness or blistering. Secondary lymphedema occurs when the flow of lymph is blocked or altered. When your lymph nodes are removed due to melanoma, colon, prostate/testicular, bladder or breast cancer, your risk of secondary lymphedema significantly increases. Scar tissue can also be a factor.

Treatment & Prevention

While there is no cure for lymphedema, there are a couple of things you can do to reduce discomfort and swelling. Try elevating your limb and keeping it clean and dry to decrease swelling and irritation. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating foods that are high in protein and avoiding salty foods are also important. When you have lymphedema, it is extremely important to stay as active as possible to keep the lymph fluids moving. Do not sit or stand for long periods of time without moving around. If you work at a desk, make sure you wear compression socks! If you have lymphedema in the lower extremities, it is important to wear compression stockings to increase circulation, decrease swelling and discomfort.

After surgery for breast or prostate cancer, avoid injections into the area. You should also try to keep your arm or leg elevated, and do not apply heat. It is also important not to do any heavy lifting with the arm and to avoid constricting the area with tight clothing. Make sure you keep the area protected from injuries and infection. Wear a compression arm sleeve to increase circulation and decrease swelling. LympheDIVAs is an amazing company that makes fashionable compression arm sleeves. The company was founded after two breast cancer survivors decided to change the game and make compression sleeves fun, comfortable and elegant for people who will wear them every day for the rest of their lives. To them, wearing beige, rough textured, bandage-like arm sleeves was a bore. Now, they have tons of cute patterns and colors to choose from! LympheDIVAs also works with LE&RN to promote education and awareness about lymphedema.

Together, We Can Make A Difference

The Lymphatic Education and Research Network has made great strides in lymphedema awareness, education and research. With your help, we can make a difference. During the month of March, Brightlife Direct is donating 1% of the total purchase price to LE&RN. To participate, enter coupon code “DONATE” at checkout. Stay up to date on our blog this month for more information on lymphedema. Comment or share this post and tell us what you are doing for Lymphedema Awareness Month! Special thanks to Britta for her inspiring story and support! Check out her blog below: lymphedema_diary Additional Resources

Lymphatic Education & Research Network

Lymphedema facts, treatments and guidelines

Kathy Bates – Life With Lymphedema

Occupational Therapy Case Study – Primary Lymphedema

Great Lymphedema Blogs and Communities

Compression Products

Juzo

Farrow Medical

LympheDIVAs

Armsleeves

Gloves & Gauntlets

Custom Compression Garments

How We Became Breast Cancer Thrivers

All Lymphedema Products