Pete

About Pete

Pete is a VP at BrightLife Direct, with over 15 years of experience in the compression hosiery business.

Compression vs Containment

Sheer stocking show thruWe are often asked if sheer stockings provides the same compression as thicker, surgical weight stockings.  And when one thinks about it, how does a fine sheer fabric give the same amount of support as a much thicker, opaque fabric?  This question can be answered by explaining the difference between compression and containment.

Compression is the force pushing in on an object.  For compression stockings, that object is your leg.  If you wrap a fine thread and a thick rope around your leg, and pull on the ends with the same amount of force, you will be applying the same amount of compression to the area under the thread and the rope.   But what happens if your leg swells, and starts pushing back against the thread and the rope?   This is when containment comes into play.  The thick rope will do a much better job of containing the swelling, than the thin thread.

Now let’s examine the two main reasons people wear compression stockings.  The first is venous insufficiency.  This is when the valves in your veins that keep the blood from flowing south, don’t work properly.  Blood pools in the veins and you develop varicose veins.  Compressing the leg helps the valves work more efficiently.   There isn’t a lot of force pushing back or swelling, so the amount of containment the fabric provides isn’t that important.

The second most common reason for wearing compression stockings is to treat edema or swelling.  Excess bodily fluids that would normally be removed by the venous or lymphatic system accumulate in the tissue, causing it to swell.  Edema can be caused by many conditions and medications.   Here both compression and containment are very important in controlling and reducing the swelling, so a heavier or thicker fabric is probably the best choice.

The amount of compression and/or containment you need will depend on the condition being treated and the severity.  Talk to your doctor.

By: Pete@BrightLife Direct
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Get Dirty

What does dirt have to do with compression…nothing specifically, but it turns out that like compression socks, it can be beneficial to everyone’s overall health.

I grew up in a small town, in central Wisconsin.  As soon as I got home from school, I changed into my play clothes and headed outside until dinner.  I’ve always been very fastidious about cleanliness, but that didn’t stop me from exploring the pond behind our house , the creek across the street, and all the dirt in between.  I played with frogs, bugs, and worms, ate vegetables right from the garden, and my dog loved to lick my face.  Now that I’m closing in on 60, I give a lot of credit for my good health to all of the germs I met as a kid.  Now science is confirming the importance of the microbes and bacteria we are exposed to at a very early age.

Dirt Is GoodIn their new book “Dirt is Good”, scientists Jack Gilbert, PHD and Rob Knight, PHD, along with Sandra Blakeslee explain the importance of germs in the development of our immune system at a very early age.  And, how growing up in an over sterilized environment can actually be detrimental to our health in the long term and cause a lot of the new allergies we’ve seen in the last few years. It’s not just playing in the mud, though. The authors encourage a lot of behaviors that might make parents squirm, like letting a dog lick their child’s face, or eating something that’s been on the floor.

So, if you’re lucky enough to live in a place where nature is easily accessible, don’t be afraid to let your kids go outside and get a little dirty.   It’s great fun for them in the moment, and offers the possibility of significant health benefits years later.  

And to those of a younger generation, when your parents or grandparents complain of aching legs, or you notice spider or varicose veins on their ankles, encourage them to try a pair of compression stockings.   A mild or moderate compression is typically all that’s needed to treat these symptoms.  Both are easy to put on, comfortable to wear, and like a little dirt, can provide health benefits that last into old age.

Meet Woolamina!

If you’re on our email or mailing list, you’ve probably seen our sock cartoon pop up a few times, but she has never been properly introduced.  So without further ado, we are very excited to present BrightLife Direct’s new “Spokesock”… Woolamina – The Soxy Lady!

From a humble, ragtag beginning, Woolamina has worked her way up to the pinnacle of success, for a sock.  Here, are some of the highlights of her life so far.

In all seriousness, we know that shopping for compression products can be challenging at times, but we’re always looking for ways to make it a little less frustrating and a bit more cheerful. We hope this silly sock makes you smile!  If you have any ideas for new members to add to our mascot family – please let us know!

 

Endive, and Pine Nuts, and Parmesan, Oh My

Visiting downtown Geyserville, CA is like stepping back in time.  There’s Bosworth & Son General Store for hardware, paint, tack, feed and western wear, a few other small shops and Diavola Pizzeria.  Blink, and you’ll miss it.  If you’re lucky enough to be passing through, try to make it at mealtime with a stop at Diavola.  The food here is delicious. They make incredible pizza’s, pasta, and salads, and the best cheesesteak I have ever eaten.

This is my take on a radicchio and endive salad I had the last time I ate at Diavola.  The salad is heart healthy, and it tastes great with that steak and cheese sandwich!

Ingredients
1 medium head radicchio
4 medium heads Belgian endive
4 TB pine nuts
15 cherry tomatoes
2 TB chopped parsley
¼ cup shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
4 TB rice wine vinegar
6 TB extra-virgin olive oil

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a saute pan over low heat, stirring often.  Let cool.

Quarter radicchio and remove core from each quarter.  Slice each quarter crosswise into ½” strips.  Place in large mixing bowl.

Remove any blemished leaves from the outside of the endive and cut into ½” slices.  Add to radicchio.

Slice cherry tomatoes in half and add to bowl, along with parsley.

Drizzle with olive oil, then toss.  Add rice wine vinegar and toss again.  Taste, and add more of either if needed.

Coarsely grind the toasted pine nuts.  This can be done in a mortar and pestle, if you have one, or with a plastic bag and a rolling pin.

Add pine nuts and Parmesan to salad, and toss.  Season with salt and pepper.

Fresh corn is a great addition, when in season.

Why this recipe is good for you…..

Endive and radicchio are loaded with vitamins!  One head of endive provides 1481% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin K, which is essential to proper blood clotting. Both are also very good sources of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.  Who knew!

Pine nuts contain heart-friendly monounsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol.  Pine nuts are also a very good source of B complex vitamins, Vitamins D and C, and iron which is essential to a healthy nervous and circulatory system.  Extremely high in antioxidants, pine nuts are also packed with protein and magnesium, a great source of energy.

Promoting Lymphatic Research + Giveaway!

Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that affects 10 million Americans and hundreds of millions worldwide. Symptoms include swelling in one or more parts of the body. Although many people are affected by lymphedema, many patients go undiagnosed or untreated due to a lack of knowledge and resources. To change this, many organizations, companies, doctors and patients are coming together to promote awareness and find a cure for lymphedema.

LE&RN

The Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to promote research in the fields of lymphatic diseases, lymphedema, and related disorders. Through their industry outreach program, LE&RN has established partnerships with the biotech and pharmaceutical industries working to find improved treatments and cures.

The Lymphatic Education & Research Network offers support and provides resources to lymphedema patients, including a tool to find a local lymphedema therapist. LE&RN has established a patient registry and tissue bank to serve as a repository of information for current and future researchers. Several fellowship grants are awarded each year to doctors, scientists, and organizations working in the field of lymphatic research. The immediate goal is to expand our understanding of the lymphatic system.

Actress Kathy Bates partnered up with the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN) to build awareness about lymphedema. Some people are born with it, others, like Kathy Bates develop lymphedema after a mastectomy. Lymphedema is commonly caused after the lymph nodes are damaged or removed from breast cancer treatment, or it may develop after injury or surgery.

Medi For Help

Mediven, a compression hosiery company, is making a difference in Haiti. Medi For Help was founded in 2010 after an earthquake struck the country leaving more than 300,000 men, women and children injured. This relief project provides amputees with lower limb prostheses and offers orthopedic, wound care and lymphedema treatment. Medi For Help has provided treatment to 4,500 Haitians and counting. The project provides support once the patient starts walking again. Medi For Help also now treats patients with diabetes or those recovering from a car accident.

Compression Garments To Manage Lymphedema

Although there’s no cure for lymphedema (yet!) the condition can be managed with the help of a lymphedema therapist, compression garments, Manual Lymph Drainage, and other techniques. Many compression companies are paving the way in wound care and lymphedema treatment to provide innovative, comfortable and effective high compression garments.

Strong & Durable Wraps

Compression wraps are a great alternative to high compression garments and are much easier to put on. Many brands like CircAid, BiaCare and Solaris offer durable and effective options to manage lymphedema. Browse our Wrap Catalog for a variety of ankle, thigh high and full leg wraps.

Everyday Compression For Lymphedema

Many brands offer compression knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose and armsleeves in high compression levels to manage lymphedema. Choose from a variety of sizes, styles, fabrics and compression levels to find the perfect fit for you. Each brand offers different sizing, so make sure to check the size charts for an accurate fit. Save yourself some work and use our Size Machine to automatically calculate your size in all the biggest brands!

Stylish and Supportive Options

Say goodbye to boring old beige armsleeves and stockings. Introducing LympheDivas fashionable compression armsleeves, gloves and gauntlets in a variety of sizes, lengths and compression levels for the perfect look and feel. Looking for more patterned armsleeves? Try the Juzo Signature sleeves, available in three compression levels. Add some style to any outfit in the Juzo Dream Collection, available in a variety of knee highs, thigh highs, leggings, pantyhose and armsleeves in solid and tie-dye seasonal colors.

Lymphedema Awareness Month Giveaway!

In honor of the second annual World Lymphedema Day on Monday, March 6, 2017, BrightLife will be offering a $100 gift card for lymphedema compression garments. Through the month of March, enter to win below!

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. Click here for more help. Good luck!! The contest ends Friday, March 31st at midnight.

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Pete@BrightLife Direct

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Roasted Beet and Quinoa Salad with Pistachios

When one thinks of food in New Orleans, the word healthy rarely comes to mind.  The Crescent City has a long history of serving rich, fried, and often over-the-top food combinations.  On a recent visit, between beignets and etouffees, I ordered a beet and quinoa salad at La Petite Grocery on Magazine Street.  It was delicious, and healthy by any cities standard.  Here’s my recreation.

Ingredients

3 medium heirloom beets
Olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
1 cucumber
2 stalks celery with leaves
¼ cup shelled pistachios
Sriracha mayonnaise (see recipe below)
Salt and pepper

Dressing

3 TB lemon juice
2 TB balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375.  Wash and dry beets.  Rub each beet with a small amount of olive oil.  Wrap in foil, and roast for 1 hour.  Cool, then peel the beets.  Cut each beet into 8 wedges and place in a medium size mixing bowl.

Add approximately 2 qt of water to a 3 qt sauce pan, and bring to a boil.  Add quinoa and cook for 15 minutes.  Drain quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water.  Drain very well, and place in a separate medium size mixing bowl.

Peel and seed the cucumber.  Dice cucumber and celery with leaves.  Add to the bowl with quinoa.

Toss beets with 4-5 tablespoons of dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Toss quinoa mixture with remaining dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange beets in a row down the middle of a large serving bowl or plate.  Spoon quinoa mixture along each side.  Sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with sriracha mayonnaise.

Sriracha Mayonnaise:  
Mix 1 cup mayo with 4-5 tablespoons sriracha, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.

Why this recipe is good for you…

Quinoa is full of fiber.  Fiber helps prevent heart disease by reducing blood pressure and diabetes.  Quinoa contains iron, lysine, magnesium, riboflavin and manganese.   All are essential to healthy blood and tissue cells.

Beets help to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and are packed with essential nutrients and fiber.

Pistachios have fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than any other nut.  They also contain 1-arginine, which helps make the lining of your arteries more flexible and less likely to develop clots.

And, of course, the sriracha mayonnaise may not be the healthiest ingredient… but it sure tastes good.

Travel Comfortably: Choose the Best Compression Socks for Travel

Travel Compression Socks

A strong Dollar, compared to the British Pound and Euro, means now is a great time for Americans to travel to Europe.  And every trip to Europe needs a pair or two of compression stockings.  Frequent flyer miles are great, but you don’t want to arrive for your dream vacation with sore, swollen legs and feet. The reason your legs and feet get so achy when traveling is that your muscles are not being flexed or used enough, and blood pools in your leg veins. This lack of fresh oxygenated blood can cause soreness and cramping in your legs, and swelling in your ankles and feet. If you’re at higher risk for blood clots, are overweight, or you have notoriously poor circulation, this could lead to more serious problems like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

There are a number of ways to increase circulation when you’re on a long flight. First, and most important is to get up and move! Stand up, shake your legs, and walk the aisles when possible. Unfortunately, that’s not always an option if the seat-belt light is on. The easiest way to increase circulation is by wearing compression socks or stockings, often called “travel socks.”  Travel socks provide graduated compression from your ankles to your knee. This increases circulation naturally, coaxing the blood to flow back to your heart, instead of getting trapped in your legs and feet. Here are a few things to look for when shopping for compression socks to take on your trip:

  • Medical-grade compression socks will have a compression rating of 20-30 mmHg or 30-40 mmHg, but for traveling, it’s fine to wear socks that have a compression rating of 15-20 mmHg. (This is assuming you don’t suffer from other venous disease.) These ratings simply tell how tightly the compression socks will squeeze your leg (i.e. 15-20 mmHg is a lighter compression than 30-40 mmHg, which will feel much tighter on your legs and be more difficult to put on).
  • Find socks that have graduated compression. This means that the compression will be tighter at the ankle, and will gradually become looser as the sock extends up your leg. This will help return blood to your heart.
  • Pay attention to the material the socks are knit from. Travelers often prefer natural fibers like cotton, because they’re plush, absorb moisture, and are very comfortable.  Polyester, merino wool, and fabrics embedded with copper and silver are great for absorbing excess moisture on the skin, keeping your feet cool, and decreasing foot odor. No one wants stinky feet on a plane!
  • Socks don’t have to be labeled as “Travel Socks” to be used on a long trip. You only need to find socks with a stated compression of 15-20 mmHg, and at least knee high.  If you prefer thigh-highs or tights, they work just as well in the same compression level.

If you’re looking for the best quality compression socks at a great price, be sure to check out our full selection of Travel Socks.  If you think of compression socks as thick, flesh-colored tights your grandmother wears, you will be pleasantly surprised with these. No one will know you’re wearing compression!

Allegro Premium – Italian  Cotton Socks are a favorite among flight attendants – so you know they’re good!  They are priced at $19.09 per pair, and during the month of January, like all our Allegro stockings, they are part of our Buy-3-Get-1-Free Sale.  You can mix and match any Allegro items, so everyone in your travel group can get a pair or two.  Compression socks are great for everyday wear while traveling too.  They provide all day leg comfort while hiking, on city tours, and country walks.

If you’re someone who likes to roam the plane in only socks during flight – try Top & Derby’s Random Stripe, with 15-20 mmHg compression. These socks have a fun striped design you’ll want to show off and cost $24.09 a pair.

Finally, the Sockwell brand offers a wide variety of natural fiber blend socks that are a customer favorite.  We stock the full line, and there are colors and patterns available for every taste. Plus, they’re Sarah Michelle Geller’s travel socks of choice. If Buffy the Vampire Slayer wears them – you can too!

Don’t travel without compression…. And Bon Voyage!

Compression Stockings For Large Legs

If you have large legs finding compression stockings that fit well can be a challenge.  For people with cone shaped legs, rolling and sliding is often a problem.  There are solutions for both of these issues.

Large or Thick Legs

Most manufacturers make wide-calf styles designed for customers with larger legs.

The largest knee high available is the Sigvaris Comfort PLUS which comes in 20-30 mmHg and 30-40 mmHg. The X-Large size in this product can fit a calf up to 28″ around and they come in short and long lengths.

Therafirm Core-Spun products are a great option for larger legs. Core-Spun Knee High Socks are available for men and women. The largest size will accommodate a 17 inch ankle with up to a 25.5 inch calf. Core-Spun Thigh Highs are now available in sizes up to XXXL. They will fit an ankle up to 19″ in circumference, and a thigh up to 39.5″. Core-Spun Thigh Highs are designed for men and women, come in three compression levels and two colors: black and white. Sizes XL-XXXL are offered in the 15-20 and 20-30mmHg compressions only. You can see where you’d fit on the size chart below:

Allegro Surgical Weight Knee Highs 20-30mmHg are available in Wide-Calf sizes that fit a calf circumference up to 26 inches and an ankle up to 15.5 inches. The Surgical Thigh High and Allegro Sheer Thigh Highs are sized up to XXX-Large to fit a 15.5 inch ankle and 36 inch thigh. A customer who purchased the Surgical Weight Knee highs said, “This product fit perfectly and I have really big calves… not too tight – comfortable. Wore them all day!” The Allegro products are a great, affordable option for most customers.

Mediven Extra-Wide Calf sizes are available in Medi PlusMedi Comfort,  Mediven for MenMedi Assure and Mediven Forte, 20-30 mmHg and higher. Medi Extra-Wide calf sizes vary by size, so be sure to check the specific size chart for the stocking you want.

Juzo has begun carrying a line of Varin Max products designed for larger legs. Size V will fit an ankle up to 14 inches, a calf up to 26 inches and a thigh up to 37 inches. The Max line is available in 20-30 and 30-40 mmHg in knee highs and thigh highs.

Jobst Full-Calf sizes are designed to fit a calf circumference of 18-24 inches and an ankle up to 14 inches. These sizes are available in Jobst for Men CasualJobst ActiveWearJobst Relief, and Jobst UltraSheer in 15-20, 20-30, and 30-40mmHg. Full-Calf sizes are available in Jobst Opaque 20-30mmHg and higher.

Cone Shaped Legs

When I first heard this term, I thought, “Well, nearly everyone has a cone-shaped leg – the ankle is always smaller than the thigh.” But, that is not the shape we’re speaking of when it comes to socks and stockings. When you measure your legs, most people will find that their knee circumference is smaller than the widest point of the calf. In a cone-shaped leg, the measurements do not decrease at any point as you move up the leg – the calf and knee are about the same measurement.

If your leg is cone-shaped, compression knee highs have a tendency to roll or slide. A sticky silicone top-band will typically solve this problem. Knee highs with silicone top-bands are available in 15-20, 20-30 and 30-40 mmHg.

Both Jobst and Mediven have launched a new design of the silicone top band where they use sticky silicone fibers that are woven through the top band. This creates a more gentle hold against the skin. The Mediven product is called Vitality and Jobst is called SoftFit.

If you still have difficulty keeping the silicone top band in place, using a light adhesive at the band is a great option. It Stays is a water-soluble skin glue that is hypo-allergenic and safe for all compression stockings. It’s available in a 2oz roll-on bottle. A dab or two of It Stays will keep your knee highs and thigh highs up all day.

Sigvaris to acquire Biacare

Last month, Sigvaris announced that they have signed a purchase agreement with Biacare, a small manufacturer of lymphedema, wound care and bandaging products.  Sigvaris is one of the largest compression stocking manufacturers in the world.  Still a family owned and managed company, Sigvaris corporate headquarters are in Switzerland, but they have manufacturing facilities around the world.  Their US mill in Peachtree City, GA is in the midst of a major expansion project that will double the size of the facility.

sigvaris-biacare-blogBiacare, also a family owned company, specializes in short stretch velcro wraps, bandaging, and specialty compression garments that are mainly used to treat lymphedema, lymphoedema and serious venous diseases.  Biacare’s CompreFit and CompreFlex lines of compression wraps have excellent customer reviews, and their bandaging is very competitively priced.

The merger of Sigvaris and Biacare completes the consolidation of the small family run businesses that specialize in the manufacture of specialty lymphedema garments in the US.  Mediven purchased Circaid in 2014.  Lohmann & Rauscher purchased Solaris in 2015, and BSN-Jobst purchased Farrow Medical and JoviPak in the past year.

BrightLife Direct has sold products from all of these small specialty manufacturers for many years.  As a whole, we see the mergers between these large stocking mills and small specialty businesses as being a positive one for our customers.  Before the corporate acquisitions, products made by Circaid, Farrow, JoviPak and Solaris could not be returned once they were opened.  Corporate backing has changed this.  Like we do on compression stockings, BrightLife Direct can now offer our 30-day guarantee on ready-to-wear wraps that can often cost hundreds of dollars for just one limb.

reduction-kit-for-blogThese mergers have also fostered some great innovation.  Medi and Circaid have led the way with the development of Reduction Kits used during the initial decongestive phase of lymphedema treatment.  In the decongestive phase, the affected limb is wrapped every day with multiple layers of bandaging, padding, and gauze.  This treatment can go on for months, and the whole wrapping and unwrapping process can take hours each day.  Reduction Kits are customizable short stretch velcro wraps that eliminate all the wrapping.  These garments can change the life of someone dealing severe lymphedema.

The disappearance of white compression hosiery!

Therafirm Light Stockings in WhiteAs fewer nurses and other professionals are required to wear white, compression hosiery manufacturers have discontinued or have made plans to discontinue white in their hosiery lines.  If you are looking for white or ivory sheer or semi-sheer support hosiery you may have noticed that it is harder to find.  This posting is for you.

Here are links to products you may be looking for:

White and in stock

White (discontinued, limited quantities)

Ivory/Pearl (discontinued, limited quantities)

BrightLife Direct does have a very large selection of white opaque knee high socks available from a variety of manufacturers in all the compression levels.

Pete@BrightLife Direct
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