Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Varicose Vein Surgery

by heather

 When I was nineteen I started developing varicose veins. It’s genetic. I started wearing support stocking religiously, but let’s face it, I picked the wrong profession if I wanted to protect my legs and veins. And having three babies didn’t help either. When I had Thing 1, I was told that I needed to wait until I was done having children before I did anything about fixing them. Technology has advanced since then. (Which is good because after my pregnancies and standing on my feet for so many years not only do my legs look terrible they hurt a lot too. Lots of burning, aching and cramping.) The first time I saw my OB he told me that I needed surgery on my legs and there wasn’t really another answer. As soon as I could get in (after my pregnancy) I went to see a vascular surgeon. He said I that I have venous reflux disease and it’s actually better to take care of it sooner versus later. What has been happening is that the valves in some of my veins aren’t working effectively, which causes the blood to back up and some of the smaller veins to swell to the point that they are completely ineffective and not to mention ghastly looking. The longer I let it go the more damage will occur to the small veins.
 The solution is the VNUS close system. The surgeon inserts a catheter into the ineffective veins and irradiates them and as he pulls the catheter out they seal shut. That’s procedure #1. On the second day he fixes the smaller swollen veins that possibly can be fixed and cuts out the others. They don’t use general anesthesia, so there is less risk (and cost) to the patient. Just a Valium, a Keflex, a Percocet and some Lidocaine. (Although I still fell asleep half way through each surgery.) Each procedure takes less than an hour and has a pretty short recovery time overall. (It used to be that surgical intervention involved ‘vein stripping’, where the vein is literally removed through incisions in the groin and knee areas. It required general anesthesia and involved a long and painful recovery. Currently there are other options besides the VNUS procedure, but this is the one my surgeon prefers because it has the best outcomes.)
 So that’s what I was doing Tuesday on my husband’s lunch break. When I laid down on the table the tech said “Now there is proof positive that nurses don’t just sit on their butts.”  (That’s right!) I felt very loopy for the rest of each day, but I was functioning fairly well by Thursday. Ok, ok my house was sliding even further down hill and I couldn’t stand for very long, but my kids were happy and taken care of and that’s what matters, right? I have to say that now my leg feels sooo much better. No more cramping, aching or burning. The staples and stitches are annoying, but they’ll be gone soon. I’ve known people who have had it done and the scarring is pretty minimal too. So we’re going to do this party again tomorrow! That’s not the way I planned it, but while I was on the table the nurse mentioned to the surgeon that he had a cancellation that they needed to fill and I said that I would take. Probably crazy after the week I just had, honestly worst week in recent memory, and it had little to do with my surgery but my surgeon is good, busy and really hard to get into. Not to mention if I do it now, versus next February when he has openings it would save me several thousand more dollars. Yup, tomorrow is good for me.

 So here are some tips and lessons I learned from the experience:

  1. If your varicose veins are causing you pain, you don’t have to wait until you’re done having kids to get relief. And you don’t need an extended recovery time either.
  2. Choose the surgeon that is hardest to get in to see and pray that someone cancels. He’s the guy who knows what he’s doing. I’ve heard scary stories of people who went to surgeons with less experience because they were easier to get into.
  3. If your baby has reflux and you’re having surgery, live it up and eat what you want. You have to pump and dump anyway, why not enjoy what you are eating for a couple days? (Although don’t go to overboard, small amounts of those irritating foods will stay in your system for more than a few days.)
  4. My surgeries on my leg didn’t hurt nearly as much smashing my toe this weekend did. That’s the real reason I walk with a limp.

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