Monday, September 7, 2009


Yes. I did it. I got my varicose veins fished out. After an epic fail three years ago, where I visited the doctor, heard about the procedure, got woozy and chickened out, I actually went through with it this past Friday.

They (those blasted veins) had been hurting more and more. While limping home from a walk with Shawn earlier this summer, I thought, "I really need to do something about these." But I was scared. Also, I am tight, and with a high deductible insurance plan, I had no desire to pay out of pocket for the procedure. Then I remembered that Laura's concussion had met our high deductible, and that it would be fully covered, that everything from now until the end of the year is fully covered (not gas or parking, though, so I still don't go to the doctor on a whim). I figured it was now or never, and I'd better get going so we could schedule it before the end of the year.

They got me in faster than I had imagined possible. At the initial doctor visit, he entered the examining room with my chart in hand and said, "So, you were here three years ago and never came back. Would you care to explain what happened?" Rather than cringing, I explained, "I got woozy after you described the procedure, and I chickened out. But they are hurting more and more, so I need to get it done, and please, let's not talk about it or draw any pictures this time around."

My surgery went well. I was terrified beyond all reason of being put to sleep. This is because (I finally realized) when I was a kid, I had a bad anesthesia experience with a tooth extraction. I was drugged into a strange state of unconsciousness, but within it I remember experiencing excruciating pain. In that particular instance, as I faded out, my view of the doctors fragmented into squares like puzzle pieces, which morphed into patches of color separated by black lines. I was a small, black dot, traversing the universe of these patchwork colors. Every time I crossed the black border from one color to the next, my being was racked with intense, all-encompassing, delocalized pain.

The only explanation I could imagine was that they gassed me but forgot to give me Novocain. That was the last time (until this past Friday) I ever let anyone put me to sleep, because I have wanted to be good and sure I was numb before anyone ever took a knife to me again. I had only Novocain for my tonsillectomy and my wisdom tooth extractions, and a wee bit of Novocain for the births of my last two children. I was so scared of the anesthesia this time around, tears started running down my face as I was being admitted, which was mortifyingly embarrassing.

However, knowing what I knew (and was trying not to remember) about how this particular procedure was performed, there was no way, no way on earth, that I was going through it with nothing but Novocain.

In the end, the anesthesia was gentle and easy, and I did not feel a thing. They didn't come after my face with a gas mask, but merely inserted an IV, and added the appropriate concoctions at the appropriate times. Right before I drifted away, they asked me if I would like to listen to music. "Do you have any Mozart?" I asked. They said, "No, you have to tell us the number on the radio." I must have been getting woozy, because I asked them, "Do you have XM?" They said no, which relieved me, because I was not sure of the number of a classical XM station, so I happily told them, "91," and then peacefully drifted away listening to something which, if not Mozart, was suitably close to it.

The surgery was a breeze. It was the back of my right thigh, pretty high up. They wrapped my leg all up in three layers of bandages for compression, so when I woke up, I found it to be like a very snug sausage that did not bend.

Upon arriving home, I tried to rest on the sectional in the family room, but we could not keep the dogs off me, so I decided to go upstairs to my bed. Shawn had stepped out to the store to pick up some juice and things, but Laura and Jon were home. Once I got up to my bedroom, I decided to go to the bathroom since I was up, and since it would be easier then than getting out of bed again later.

When I pulled down my pants, my finger hit the top of my bandage and came away wet with blood, which frightened me, but I really needed to use the toilet, so I did, and when I was done, I looked down and there on the floor was a HUGE puddle of black blood. It was spurting out of the top of my bandage. I am not good with those kinds of things, so I started crying out, “Oh! I’m bleeding! Oh! I don’t know what to do!” I got my underwear up over the spurting blood (soaking it with blood in the process), but did not pull my pants up over it, because of the mess. I grabbed an old sleep shirt of Shawn’s off a hook in the bathroom and ran to my bed, trying apply direct pressure behind me while lying on my stomach. Laura by this time was practically weeping. She is not good with these types of things, either. I continued to cry, “Oh! I’m bleeding! Oh! I don’t know what to do!” and then added, “Should we call 911? I don’t know what to do!” Laura was trying to call Shawn. Jon was trying to help with the direct pressure to stop the flow of blood. Poor Jon had to do most everything because Laura turned white and blotchy and shook and looked ready to faint. He got towels for me, then went downstairs at Laura’s bidding to get paper towels to sop up the blood on the bathroom floor, after which he returned to apply direct pressure for me while Laura scrubbed the remaining blood stains out of the grout with a scrub brush.

Shawn arrived home and called the surgery center which connected him with the surgeon, who told him to redress the wound. Ugh. In the end we came out all right, but it was not what we were hoping. The surgeon said that since the veins were simply removed, the blood that is used to flowing through them sometimes pools and then bursts, spurting out like that.

I’m doing better now. So other than the trauma that it caused the kids to see their mother in her underwear all covered with spurting blood, we are none the worse for wear.


Hope T. said...

I am very squeamish which made it hard to read this so I can't imagine how it was to go through it! My veins have gotten worse with each of my past few pregnancies and yet I've been loathe to go see about them. After reading this, I can tell you for sure that unless I am positively crippled by them, I won't have this procedure done. Thank you for the warning. I hope you are feeling better now and getting back to normal.

ruth said...

I love you, Hope. I hope I meet you in real life someday. Yes, I am doing better. I walked a couple of miles today! I can't stand still in one place for very long... my sweet husband took me on my grocery shopping errands on Monday (he had the day off), and after we loaded up the cart, he would stand in line to pay while I went out to the car to put my leg up.

Laura is traumatized and for a few days ran from any room in which I would appear, saying, "Mom, I think you need to go lie down and put your leg up!" She's starting to relax.

Jonathan is still impressed with the amount of blood and proud of his coolness in handling everything. :)

It really wasn't that bad, except for the one episode. And the week of terror leading up to it, that was probably the worst.

Hope T. said...

I'm glad your family is taking such good care of you! That makes the recovery so much easier, I'm sure.

It would be fun to meet in real life and see if we are as alike in person as we seem to be in writing.

Emily said...

Wow, what an ordeal! Glad you (and the fam) made it through reasonably unscathed. :)