Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles

December 19, 2011


Filed under: Being There,How it works — Kaddee @ 9:38 am

If you are weak of stomach, you may not want to read this saga.  It will be ongoing – with new additions periodically.

On December 15th, I underwent a procedure called “Endovenous Laser Treatment with Microphlebectomy”.  What the HELL does that mean?  “Endovenous” = inside a vein; “micro-” =small; “phlebectomy” = removal of vein.

I have had a worsening varicose vein in my left leg for about 20 years.  I decided to see a vascular doctor about it recently.  I had it “treated” on Thursday.

Procedure – Thursday, December 15th, 2011

The day began at 5:30am (after giving my final exam in my night class the previous evening).  I had to shower  before the procedure because I would not get another shower until Friday evening.  I also had to apply Lidocaine cream to the entire area that was going to be worked on.  (I’ve had poor success with these lido-creams in the past and was not too confident for this time either!)  The lido-cream had to be Saran wrapped in place (no kidding!) and I got dressed.  A light breakfast, no coffee and WHEE off we went.

We arrived early.  The facility was not yet open.  I twitched.  At 8am we got registered and by 8:30 I was in my treatment room.  They gave me disposable shorts to wear, unwrapped my leg and washed down the entire area.  To my surprise, the lido-cream REALLY worked.  My left inner thigh and anterior/medial calf were completely numb!  It felt like they had been iced, but not cold, just that thick-numb-kinda-like-a-piece-of-meat feeling.  Once we had gone through all the releases and possible problems I was given a glass of water and Xanax (anti-anxiety medication) to relax.  The nurse suggested I take two, I opted for one – not really knowing what Xanax would do, and not really wanting to be totally out of it.

The doctor came in and traced out the veins on my skin with a Sharpie marker.  One of the nurses also came in with an iPod and asked what type of music I wanted to listen to during the procedure.  She offered elevator music, jazz, 80′s and all kinds of specific artists.  I told her that she could put on anything that did not distract the doctor from his primary focus – my leg.  She spun through the list for a bit, picked something and put the iPod in the docking station.

(HERE’S WHERE IT IS GOING TO START GETTING ICKY – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED)  The first part of the procedure was the endovenous treatment.  In my case, what this meant was that a fiber-optic with a laser was inserted into my Greater Saphenous vein starting just below my inner ankle bone (medial malleolus) and “gently” snaked up, inside the vein, to about the middle of my thigh.  (This reminded me a bit of the old RotoRooter commercials – but that may have had something to do with the Xanax.)  At about this time, I realized that the music that the nurse had picked was… JOURNEY.  LOL.  I hadn’t really noticed it (thank you Xanax) and when I did, I found that quite humorous.  With the laser in place, the fiber got slowly pulled back out with the laser firing every n-seconds to damage the inside (endothelium) of the vein.  This damage will cause clotting and, combined with compression, will collapse the vein.

WHEW it is nearly over, right?  Oh no, grasshopper – the best is yet to come!

The traces of the veins on my leg were to show the doctor the tortuous path of the vessel within the skin so that he could make small incisions near the vein, pull small sections of the vein out through the incision and cut it, and then make another incision about 1 or 2 inches away and PULL pieces of vein out of my skin.  Did it just get really warm in here?? That is the  microphlebectomy portion of the procedure.  There was lots more lidocaine injected into my skin around the areas of vein that were going to be “pulled”.  It was quite odd, come to think of it, because I was awake and talking with the doctor and could feel (and hear) pulling, puncturing, moving of my skin but could feel nothing.  The “meat-y” feeling of the skin was all I could feel.  It was attached to me, but not really part of me.  Only on one occasion was there a big, shooting pain – and that was when he touched a nerve that was running next to the vein.  BOY HOWDY was I awake then!  It felt like he was pulling miles of vein out of my leg, but after the procedure the nurse showed me the pieces (yes, I am that type) and it was less than 8 inches!  Finally after about 2 hours, we were done and the nurses washed me up, SteriStripped my “punctures” (no stitches), put gauze over EVERYTHING (a lot of extra lidocaine solution had been pumped in around my veins, and would be leaking out over the next few hours) and got me into my ever-so-lovely compression stocking (+30mmHg if you are interested).

The Xanax was fading, but still enough to make me a bit dizzy when I stood up to get dressed.  :)   I was advised on my medications and sent off with Jack for a 20 minute walk.  All walking for the next two weeks is supposed to be slow and careful.  No cardio, nothing bordering on exercise, just enough to keep the blood flowing through the deep vein so as to  minimize the possibility of clotting in the deep vein.

After our walk, Jack took me to  my favorite comfort food place for lunch.  It is the ONLY place we ever go where I will order lasagna at a restaurant!  It is my absolute favorite and always makes me feel happy.  Full belly, drugs wearing off, a little walk and then NAP TIME.  The rest of Thursday was somewhat of a blur.  Walks around the block. Sitting with my leg elevated.  Napping.  The pain was not bad, more sore than pain.  The gauze under the compression stocking were NOT pretty, and I had a whole other day to live with that before I could take off the stocking, the gauze and have a shower!


December 4, 2011

Snowshoeing – Gold Creek

Filed under: Snowshoeing — Kaddee @ 9:44 pm

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this, but I’m going to post anyway.  It has been a long time.  We are not in Cairo anymore (for a long time), but life still continues.

So…today was the first day of snowshoeing for the season.  We attempted to go last Sunday, but the attempt had to be aborted for horrific rain – not worth writing about.  Today was glorious and sunny, even in Seattle, so after a late-ish start we headed out I-90 for the Pass and some snow.  I recently purchased “Snowshoe Routes: Washington” (2ed.) from the Mountaineers.  I am both excited and a little disappointed about the book.  It gives some good information about places to go snowshoeing, however the presentation leaves a bit to be desired, in my humble opinion.  First is the map – there is a map of the state at the front of the book with 100 small numbered dots indicating the approximate position of each trail.  This is insufficient.  The trails are “clumped” in regional clusters that should each be their own focus map with a bit more detail.  Second is the “details” list for each trail – it lists the difficulty, length, elevation gain, etc.  all of which is very pertinent for assessing the trail, however the directions (exit off the highway, Sno-Park etc.) are typically 2 or 3 paragraphs into the description.  This does not make for easy assessment of destination.  Third, and last (regarding the book) is that the directions to the trail-head or along the trail are not easy if you are not an orienteer.  Example: “Start the hike by heading north along the narrow access road (Forest Road 144) on the eastern side of Mardee Lake.”  I can guess which way is north and which dirt road they mean, but it could be described more clearly.

We set out for hike #58 – “Twin Lakes” only to realize that, although the small, trail map showed it as Keechelus Sno-Park, it was ACTUALLY Hyak Sno-Park, which is a groomed trail facility (we only have the non-groomed pass at present).  The map shows Keechelus Sno-Park, but the directions say Hyak.  I didn’t notice that until we were mostly there.  Luckily, on the same exit was the Gold Creek Sno-Park, which is a non-groomed area.  I quickly scanned the listing for “Lower Gold Creek Basin” (hike #53) and decided that we would do that instead of risking a ticket for going to Hyak without a groomed area pass.  It turned out to be a good thing, as there was a ranger ticketing cars at Gold Creek that had no Sno-Park passes displayed!

Our adventure – exit 54 off I-90 (Hyak exit), go left under the highway and park just on the other side of the highway along the small road.  The weather was clear and crisp.  The snow was packed down and grainy with a stiff crust on top – not the greatest, but fine for a first adventure out for the season.  We walked a little way up the Fire Service road, crossed a small bridge and then put on the snowshoes to start up the hill.  The climb was steady but not too steep.  We passed, and were passed by, families, couples, athletic individuals and people out for a stroll.  There were lots of dogs and sleds on the trail.  About where we were ready to turn around (not at the END or anything) we came upon a “field training” of the volunteer, backcountry ski patrol.  They seemed to be having a great time looking for avalanche beacons and practicing backcountry first-aid. (Luckily, we did not require their professional assistance for anything!)  As always, the descent was much easier and faster than the climb.  We covered between 2.5 and 2.75miles and had a really good time.  We’re both going to have to get into better shape for the snow before the Romp to Stomp in February!

When we got back to the truck to come home, I realized that we had NOT done the hike we thought we had done!  We set out for #58 (Twin Lakes), changed to #53 (Lower Gold Creek Basin) but actually DID the lower part of #52 (Kendall Peak Lakes) which was marked as much harder than either of our “choices”!  LOL – so I bought a guide and I STILL can’t find the right trail.  No worries – we had a great time anyway.