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!

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