M Rex is a flight & recovery room nurse from Bozeman, MT. She’s an avid runner and skier, and loves just about anything outside – from backpacking and hiking to napping. Over the years, she’s found compression sock useful for many of her favorite activities. A recent diagnosis led her to experience compression – and recovery – in a whole new light. Read on for a glimpse into her journey.
I grew up involved in numerous sports and have remained active over the years with hiking, backpacking, skiing and the like, but never could get into running as an activity in and of itself. That was until almost six years ago when a friend with cancer wanted to do a 5k trail run to celebrate his last round of chemotherapy. I’m pretty sure you’re obligated to say yes when a friend asks you to join them in such an endeavor, so I found myself signed up for my first foot race ever at 33 years old.
Little did I know when my friend talked me into his little 5k that I’d be signed up for a 16 miler with the same group of folks several months later. I was hooked. I found a fun group of runners who didn’t take anything too seriously, liked to spend time outside & liked to grab a beer afterwards. For the first time I wasn’t focused on my slowness, but on just getting out and having fun in good company.
As the distances we ran grew longer, I started wearing compression socks to help with some of the leg and foot fatigue. I had always worn them for my long nursing shifts, so it seemed worth a try. I was sold on the very first run- they felt great. Now I’ve switched to running in compression sleeves for longer runs so I can wear my ridiculous toe socks, which help me prevent blisters. I was pretty excited when VIM & VIGR finally started making some fun sleeves… I didn’t anticipate using them for anything other than running when I bought them.
This past September, I was running in the Dolomites when I had my first concerning headache. After that I had about one “migraine” a month with some other seemingly random and unrelated symptoms including fatigue, depression, worsening vision and vertigo. I finally visited my primary care provider in December. Going over the progression of symptoms and some family history, we agreed it would be remiss to not at least get an MRI of my brain to make sure everything was OK in there.
In spite of all the other things it could have been, I found out I had a brain tumor when I finally had the scans in January. It was 5.5cm – somewhere between the size of golf ball and tennis ball – and on posterior right frontal lobe of my brain.
Suddenly, I found myself on the other side of healthcare & wearing my compression sleeves and socks for blood clot prevention instead of for running or shift work. When it was time for my surgery, I was thankful that I packed my VIM & VIGR compression sleeves for my hospital stay since I can’t sleep with my feet covered. Plus, they spared me the hospital compression socks!
On Valentine’s Day, I got the call that the tumor was officially a benign meningioma, which was about the best news a gal (and her boyfriend, family and friends) could ask for. It was officially all recovery from there. One step and one day at a time.
I was on stroke and seizure precautions, but as days went by, more and more restrictions were lifted. Due to some sensory and coordination issues on my left side after surgery and the reality of snowy/icy Montana winter conditions, I did most of my walking on a treadmill. It felt great to finally be moving. I learned to trust my left side in spite of not being able to feel it moving through space or my muscles firing. I never knew I could appreciate time on a treadmill so much. Perspective.
Currently, I’m 2 months out from surgery and feeling overall better than I could have imagined. The discovery of a big ol’ brain tumor was a double-edged sword - a scary diagnosis, for sure, but I am thankful to know the cause of a couple years of symptoms. Now I’m focused on gaining strength and endurance to safely get back to work as a nurse- and back outside!
M’s Pro Tip: In addition to running, I spend a lot of time hiking and backpacking and spend winters skiing and snowboarding. I’ve taken to wearing compression socks for skiing - the thin fabric with tight fit are perfect.