Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Phlebectomy is an odd word.

I'm laying here on the couch with my bandaged leg propped up on pillows.
I either have to be up walking around, or my leg has to be elevated higher than my heart until my follow-up appointment Thursday morning.

Yes. Fun.

So, I didn't say much about it in early December when I head my right leg done.
For some reason, Endovenous Laser Vein Ablation and Phlebectomies just doesn't sound like a riveting blog post subject.
Gee, not sure why.
And then there were curious questions about why and how and "You're only 34. Varicose Veins?"

But, this is a real blog about a real woman living a real life.
And when you've carried to term and birthed four children for some reason veins can have a tendency to say, "Hey, I'm tired! I don't want to pump your blood like I did before!"
Then they decide to only pump 75% of your blood back up to your heart, and the other 25% goes backwards.
Then it pools in unsightly little places on your legs and people say things like, "Gee, what did you do to your leg? That's a huge bruise!"
And I say, "Nope. I just had four children, thank you."
And then when you try to do anything physical like, umm, exercise your veins say, "Hey! Ow! That hurts! Stop it!"
Then you feel like "Why in the heck should I even BOTHER?" Because anytime you try to go running, or row a raft at a family reunion, or even sit in a raft while other people row it but you just brace your legs for balance,
or maybe you sit in a car that is driving cross country and changing altitude...
your veins say, "Ummm... we don't like that." And they decide to cause you pain.
Or itch.
Or throb.

For the last seven years.
Getting worse every year.
And the doctor's just tell you "Well, wear compression stockings and don't cross your legs."
So you say, "I'm in my twenties! You're telling me to wear those in the summer? With shorts? All the time."
And the male doctor looks at you with this well-why-not stare so you give up trying to explain to him why this is not okay.

Then, from the grace of a female doctor at the Air Force Academy, there descended an understanding ear and the words, "Oh, those can be awful. I'm so sorry. I'll go ahead and put the referral in for you to be seen downtown and if they find them to be a medical problem, they'll remove them"

What? Oh, glory be.
And I worried that they wouldn't find them to be bad enough, that they'd say it's all in my head
...but I was thankfully wrong.
What the actually said was that I was glad I was coming in now instead of waiting even longer.

So, in early December I had my right leg done, and today I had my left.
Basically, they insert a laser into your calf, wind it up to your high groin, then slowly pull it back down your greater saphenous vein (I know I sound very technical and important right now.) while it heats up to over 900 degrees and pretty much cauterizes the vein that thought it was so high and mighty.
Then the doctor (The cool one with the Manolo's I tweeted about a few weeks back.) makes little incisions and pulls out all the big vein's little accomplices that would have grown all gross and bulgy over time had their plans not been thwarted.
(That's the phlebectomy part.)

Not that it's a fun procedure, by any means.
But it will be worth it in the long run.

So, for now, Nate's at the Y with the kids and is bringing me back something yummy from Chick-fil-A.
I sit on the couch with my leg bandaged and very attractive, covered by even more attractive sweatpants and fuzzy Christmas socks.
(Because they're some of the fuzziest, so I wear them year round.)
And my brainpower hasn't quite returned enough to return emails or phone calls or organize anything (read: Valium during surgery),
so I'm finally able to recede into the gloriousness of the beyond-awesome book I'm loving.
(God has funny ways of forcing us into downtime.)
Come Thursday I'll have my follow-up and then maybe I can highlight how to fashionably work compression stockings into your wardrobe.
Because I'll be wearing them for the next two weeks.

Of course I wore them in December, too, and few people knew.
The Christmas Eve services at New Life?
Oh, those weren't black tights, honey. They were very attractive compression stockings.

But, the reality is we women walk around with these things going on and we hide them because we feel for some reason ashamed or embarrassed.
As if no one else is having body issues but us!
No, we're usually not going to tell the world, "Hey! I've had babies and now I have to pee all the time because my bladder just ain't what it used to be!"
Okay, maybe I am. Because I'm crazy and I blog on these things.
But, we're women. And this is real life. And these things happen.
Thank the Lord he created smart people to somehow discover things like, "Gee, do you think we could stick this laser up that vein and sear it shut and then the blood won't pool in those other veins and be so painful?"

I mean, seriously. At the end of the day, medical technology rocks.
Like the invention of cotton candy or pre-strung Christmas lights. Life is just so much better.

And in a month or so my legs will be much happier, and maybe I'll even try running again.
Or maybe not. Maybe I'll just stick to swimming.
But the point is, if I did want to try running again, I could.
And those little veins would have nothing to say about it, because they died a harsh death and are now sitting somewhere in Dr. Seagraves trash can.
(She's the one with the Manolo's. She told me today she has two pairs because she decided a few years back she should step up her shoe wardrobe. I died. Not literally, because I was on her operating table. But, in the figurative, dying-for-fashion, Rachel Zoe sense of the term.)

And here is where I must apologize, for I know blog posts are better with pictures.
But this isn't going to have any.
Even though my toes are a great Air Force blue peeking out of the bandages, they are covered by my Christmas sock which will require too much effort to remove since my knee doesn't have too my bending motion when wrapped like a mummy.

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