Friday, March 6, 2009

fixing leaks: venous closure and phlebectomy post-op report

My surgery to close and remove the defective veins in my left calf went well yesterday (as well as could be expected). Interesting to note that if not for my tri training, I'd have gotten DQ'd prior to surgery as my pulse was a measly 43 bpm at check-in. As it was, the anesthetist attributed my slow heart rate to my being in great shape and gave the thumbs up.

The pretty picture to the right shows some of the nicks in my leg. The purple lines are pre-op markers of the veins to remove; the yellow is the iodine cleaner they neglected to cleanup afterward (don't know how I'm going to get it off).

Surgery prep involved shaving my left leg from mid-thigh down (what a luxury!). I couldn't persuade the nurse to shave the other leg while she was at it, so I'll either look like a half-shaved beast during recovery or I'll bite the bullet and clear the field of hair from my right leg, too.

The anesthetist did a great job of things, and shortly after I was wheeled into the operating room I was out before I knew it. I woke up two hours later to find that surgery had taken a bit longer than expected... they had to shave the inside of my thigh all the way up to my waist (yep, there too, just the left side) to get at the top of the vein that runs from your groin to your toe. The doc made 26 incisions, each about half a centimeter long, all over my thigh and calf to strip out the now-useless pieces of vein and leg wrapped tight to staunch the bleeding. Bonus to the small size of incision: no stitches!

Tylenol kept the pain at bay yesterday. No sharp pains involved, it just felt like someone used my calf as a punching bag. I took Tylenol when I woke up this morning but haven't taken any since, as I figure I'm past the worst of it.

I just took off the bandages (thus the picture above) for my first survey of the damage: lots of cuts and bruising, but all in all, I am on the mend. The picture to the left shows my leg pre-op with all its pretty popped-out failed veins (it's not just because I'm flexing).

I have to stay off my feet and keep my leg elevated until I go in for the followup ultrasound Monday morning. The standard instructions say no strenuous activity for two weeks (huh?!) which conflicts with the doc's earlier indication that I'd only be out a week.

I really hope I can get back to swimming/biking/running soon. Our practice weekend for Wildflower is April 4-5 and I'd like to get some significant hours of training in before then.

The trick to the next few days is to keep cabin fever away. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Race Report: Woodside King's Mountain Half Marathon

This past Saturday, the skies cleared up long enough here in the Bay Area for me to run the EnviroSports Woodside Kings Mountain Half Marathon without wearing a rain jacket.

My official finish time was 2:10:16, which I'm rather pleased about. Why? Just look at the elevation profile to the right (graphic links to my motionbased entry). Yes, that's just shy of 3400 feet of elevation gain over the course of the race.

In addition to this being just my second half marathon, it was my first true trail run, so the sweat (and tears) I shed completing the race were well expended.

I have to hand it to the EnviroSports crew, too, for putting on such a fun race. There were just 183 of us running the half marathon (and another couple hundred there to do the 5-miler), and it seemed much more like an intimate jog through Huddart Park than some big organized race.

The trail was very well marked to the top of the hill and back, and given all the rain we've gotten recently, I was surprised there was but a single stretch of shoe-sucking mud on the whole course. The fact it was just a couple hundred yards shy of the turnaround didn't help much, but you take what you get, no?

Truth be told, I walked more than I wanted to on the way up the hill. But I was proud at how much I ran up that same incline. See, I'd spent the week prior doing nothing but coping my way through recovering from a cold, so the fact that I was out in the wind and cool and wet was a victory in and of itself.

The course wasn't a true half marathon in length (more like 12.6 miles) and the canopy of trees meant my GPS signal was weak throughout and throwing off bad data. But I rather enjoyed having to pay close attention to where my feet were landing and taking a few moments here and there to enjoy the nature around me. With so few people on the course, I spent much of the run down the hill with only one other person in sight. Now that's my idea of a fun run.

Next up: vascular surgery on my left calf (see prior post on my varicose veins) and a week of recovery before hopping right back on the training wagon. After all, I've got a practice Wildflower olympic tri to run in a month. Wish me (and the surgeon) luck!