So I am seeing this as sort of a PSA, public service announcement.
As I wrote a while back I have a genetic clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. I have only one gene so my situation is not very serious, and raises my risk of blot clots only after surgery, below the waist, long travel and if I were on any kind of hormone therapy or the pill which I am not.
This is a common genetic disorder among those of European descent, about 1 in 15. It is estimated that about 40% of folks who have clots after long haul flights have it.
I wouldn't even know about this except for a clot in my leg after a C section thirty years ago before they knew about all of this. If I had got up and moving and had been taking an anti-coagulant at the time, standard practice now, something my daughter did after her last baby, I would be fine.
As it is I have some valve damage in that leg which means in certain situations, like after I injured my foot in the fall, the blood return and swelling are slow to move. In normal circumstances I have zero issues but of course this might change when we are dealing with an elderly Babs.
I saw an excellent doctor who told me that if I wore compression socks during the day I would be taking care of things. She also referred me to a specialist who does vein surgery in a private clinic and I will see him when I get back. I need to find out if my clotting issue makes sense for surgery when socks will do the job.
This is no big deal at all. Everyone has something they have inherited and this is one of mine and a minor issue.
Now onto what is important.
Finding compression hose as they call it, that does not make you look like an idiot is no small feat.
This really annoys me.
Compression socks at the strength I need, 20-30, are not just for old ladies and even they need to be fashionable.
With long haul flights this concerns young folks too (I was 32 when I had my clot). My physio says that sometimes healthy folks with low blood pressure can be more at risk - she knows a marathon runner who has had several DVTs after big flights to races. Think of Venus Williams.
Also compression is easy on your legs. Every person at the vascular clinic, nurses, techs and docs were wearing them. My brother-in-law wears them when he is on his feet performing surgery.
For folks like me who need them the doctors tell me that the main issue is compliance - meaning people should wear them but don't - they are too darn ugly and often hard to put on.
So tell me why there are 2,000 different kinds all weird beige and very few other options?
The principle seems to be that if you skin is lighter it is yellow and if it is darker it is dark orange. I wore a pair out for lunch with my new friend Susan here and we agreed they made my real legs look like prosthetics. I mean I had a sewing student who made fake legs for a living and hers looked more realistic.
When I got mine measured it was in a place where they were also selling commodes and walkers. Me and a young woman with three little kids were being fitted - we felt right at home.
I was handed a pair of XL rubber gloves for "donning" and told I would wear them for life and the minute I got out of bed to bedtime. They were also expensive $100 for knee highs and $150 for pantyhose (I have good insurance that covers a few pairs which is helpful). I need graduated compression, tighter at the ankle and looser as they go up (think squeezing the toothpaste) and can't wear leggings or anything footless because they might cut off circulation at my ankle which really isn't the point. Few athletic socks are graduated compression at 20-30 (firm support and opposed to moderate - the doctor said if you are going to do it you might as well do it and that's what she wears).
So these are the challenges:
- Ugliness. Would it kill most of these manufactures to consider that people who wear these things might be young, active, or just plain fashion conscious? Would it be possible to make at least on pair of white lace something or a pattern knee high to wear with a summer dress for instance?
- Many of the knee highs are fine except they have a tight band at the top that digs in - since this isn't good for circulation this makes no sense to me. The lady at the fitting suggested I carry my giant rubber gloves with me for frequent adjustments during the day. I think not.
- The pantyhose are nuts. For a start you ease on leg on at which point you have encased yourself in super Spanx up to the crotch and then you are supposed to do leg two which means you have to get your second ankle up to the crotch without falling off your bed. Takes about 20 minutes, makes even the dog laugh, and would be useful only if you wanted to get a million hits on Youtube for laughs. Plus the fact that there is a real possibility that you make a snag in your $150 pair of pantyhose the first time out. Exactly what I did.
Here however are the benefits:
- Your legs feel great. If you have ever come home from a long day and just wanted to get off your feet you don't have that feeling any more. One of the things I have been thinking of about possible surgery is I would probably keep wearing these things most of the time for comfort. It is hard to describe - think of the difference of going running with and without a bra. Best I can do for an analogy.
Here are my strategies:
- I am not wearing those ugly pantyhose. Take me out behind the barn and shoot me first. I will be wearing those about the same time I start accessorizing with giant bright white velcro runners which will be never.
- In the stocking department I wear thigh highs by Sigvaris. The colour is terrible but they are comfortable and easy to put on and you can actually do a bathroom break with them in under two hours. I can wear them under maxi dresses and will wear them under my regular tights which you can wear in Nova Scotia all but three days of the year.
- I am wearing knee socks and if I want to wear sandals yup I am doing the Birkenstock thing until I can think of something else, maybe clogs. Further footwear reports. This is a fashion challenge and requires some reconfiguration of the look into sporty and opposed to whatever I was when I wasn't wearing knee socks, but I decided I would rather look eccentric than as if there was something wrong with me, because there isn't.
- Search high and low for options. Contact manufacturers and lobby. Maybe young people who fly a lot and could benefit or people of all ages who would feel great in these socks would do so if they were not so terrible looking and fitted in places that sell commodes.
Here is the good news. There are some limited but excellent options. Here is what I am wearing by company:
Sockwell. American made in Tennessee.
I can't say enough great things about these socks. They are super comfortable, have excellent compression and are in natural, breathable fibers. Only downside is the dark colours which limit summer wearing. I love, love these socks and think everyone should be wearing them:
This company was started by a young entrepreneur and DVT survivor. I have these rosebud socks and love, love, love them. They are synthetic but have a nice rib knit and have zero cutting in at the top. Excellent socks and I am keeping my eye on them for more options.
Of all the compression sock companies this one has the most fashion options. Unfortunately they are right now only offering 15-20 compression but are going up to 20-30 in August. I can hardly wait to try them:
Finally the athletic compression socks:
Very few of these are true graduated compression but I did find something reasonable at Runningskirts. These are my husband's, and surely the little girls', favourites:
A bit of a challenge but I am not giving up on this and will keep you posted on any updates.
And that's it for this morning's PSA.