Getting my varicose veins removed (and why I’m not covering my bruises)

Who has been breathless and sweating while trying to put on medical grade compression stocking at nine months pregnant…. in the middle of summer?!? We deserve to start our own club: Warrior mamas who fought the stockings and won!

After one pregnancy I had significant varicose veins but after five pregnancies I had blue bubble legs. The sight of my legs was definitely not the worst part… it was the throbbing pain, itchy legs and heaviness when I had been on my feet for a while and THE COMPRESSION STOCKINGS!

Thankfully, my vein removal was deemed medically necessary (the lax veins weren’t pumping blood the way they should), so in April 2018 I had the varicose veins in my right leg removed. I must have been really desperate because our youngest was only about three months old… this is why I don’t remember a lot of the details of the procedure! Then, 10 days ago (June 2021), I had my left leg (finally!) done.

Here’s what the procedure and days after looked like:

  1. arrive at the clinic
  2. take a Valium
  3. get numbing shots
  4. watch HGTV on the screen mounted to the ceiling
  5. assume the doctor was doing what he needed to do (I hate needles, pain, etc. No extra details needed for me)
  6. get double bandaged and ANOTHER CRAZY COMPRESSION STOCKING. this one was way tighter than my normal ones (really!?!)
  7. walk on the treadmill at the office for 20 minutes
  8. go home and rest for the rest of the day
  9. walk 45-60 minutes a day for a week (rest a lot in between)
  10. beg the doctor to do something about the excruciating pain in my Achilles Heel. He allows me to snip a hole in the heel of the stocking to relieve pressure on the nerve. It helps.
  11. a week after the procedure, go in for the earliest appointment of the day to get my leg unwrapped. Freedom for my little leg!!!

After I had my first leg done, days 8 and 9 after the surgery were tough. After taking a week of medical leave to help me, Dave went back to the office. The first day he was back to work, I was holding our 3 month old while fully reclined in our recliner– trying to get the throbbing to decrease. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I texted SOS messages to my friends for help. 5:30 seemed like it would never come.

This time around, it helped immensely that Dave was working from home and could help put our 18 month old down for naps, help with lunch and be another adult in the house. Today marks day 4 after getting my bandages off and I’m feeling really good. Thank you, Lord!

Do you know what I was most stressed out about before my procedure this time? Finding loose summer pants that would cover my bruised legs and incisions. Maybe it was just a “cover” for all the emotions I was feeling but it consumed me. But here’s the crazy thing: I’m not wearing them! I wore them the first two days and then I had a moment of, “Why am I ashamed of my bruises? I had surgery; I don’t need to hide! People have surgery all the time.” It was so freeing to look at my legs as “in process.” I don’t need to wait until there’s no trace of the struggle, pain or imperfection. My body has worked oh so hard to carry six babies and these are some of my battle wounds. Well done, Heidi; well done body.

So, would I go through the surgery again? ABSOLUTELY! I saw a photo of what my right leg (the one that was done 3 years ago) looked like before surgery. Dave and I were shocked. We had both forgotten how bubbly, swollen and long the veins were. It was a little scary. That leg has healed beautifully and you can’t even seen scars from the incisions. And, I had Benji AFTER surgery on my right leg: no new varicose veins have popped out and that leg felt SO much better during pregnancy.

What would I do differently?

-Waited to have the procedure done on my first leg until our baby was a little older (6 months?? Not crawling but a little more independent)

-Asked a family member or friend to come and stay with us to help me and the kids when Dave went back to work at the office

-Had my second leg done shortly after my first leg. This way my two legs would have been healing around the same time. Bonus, I would have been a lot more comfortable with my last pregnancy if both legs had been done. Also, if I had had the two procedures done the same year, they would have both went toward meeting our deductible for that year. Instead, they were split between two different years.

I have to give a huge shout out to my friends who brought us meals while I recovered. What a gift to have dinner taken care of. Also, I cried tears of gratitude to the Lord (literally) for Dave. He did an amazing job checking in on me and taking care of the kids/house. What a relief to have both of my legs done and freed from bandages and compression stockings!

Are you thinking about having your varicose veins removed? Feel free to reach out and ask me more questions. : )

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