Because I’m cerain there must be just tons of you out there suffering from vericose veins just like me (I think I may here the crickets chirping right now), I figured I would document my whole vein experience, and then maybe this whole journey might be helpful to someone else.
Today I went in for a “vein mapping” and a consultation. I was scheduled for an hour and a half appointment, which really means two plus hours in doctor speak, so I planned accordingly. It turned out to be the worst possible day to flit off to Provo for an appointment, since it’s early out day at school, and that meant a whole bucket load of arranging, but it worked out ok. I filled out the paperwork ahead of time, which was great. I think all doctors should let you download and print the forms, then you are all prepared and it saves you that “coming in 15- 20 minutes early”. Of course, I had to wait in the waiting room 1/2 hour anyway, so I could have filled out the forms them. But the questions asked all about my leg pain standing, sitting, walking, etc. It said to not fill it out according to how the pain is now, but at it’s worst. Since this is a form that’s going to our insurance, I tried not to be noble about the level of my pain.
When I finally went back to the exam room, the tech gave me my lovely gown and my even lovelier “disposable underwear”. Oh, my gosh, but those underwear could be a blog post all on their own. Let’s just say that it’ll hopefully be my only experience with wearing a thong. Ick. After taking pictures of my legs (oh, how mortifying!), the ultrasound tech came in, and she did a bunch of ultrasound and measuring of my right leg. Even though I have some weird veins on my left leg, my right leg is the main problem right now, and since I was trying to keep the initial cost down until I know what’s going on, I only had them work up the right leg. I asked her about the new purple bump that’s been bothering me for the past three weeks, and she affirmed that yes, it is a blood clot, but since it’s a superficial vein, it’s not the scary, kill you or give you a stroke kind of blood clot. She put some fun little marker marks on my legs and measured between them, and “mapped” my bad veins.
After she was done, she took me into another exam room with a nice flat screen tv on the wall, and said I had to watch a little video presentation about what they do to these veins. Even though they didn’t show proceedures on actual veins, I was getting grossed out and queasy. I mean, when they start throwing around terms like ‘ambulatory phlebectomy’ and ‘sclerotherapy injections’, I don’t know about you, but I pretty much need to lean over and put my head between my knees. Luckily, they had left me in the room by myself to witness the animated vein carnage, so I was able to piddle around a bit and not really listen or watch. “Oh, look, they have Eucerin lotion over there!” I thought, “Since I’m sitting here 1/2 naked in a gown, this is the perfect time to lotion up!” So, I did some lotion slathering. Then I tried to read a bit from my book, but who can concentrate on a book when someone’s blabbering on about compression stockings. I know, I’ll call my husband. Not there. Darn. Who else can I call from this exam room? I can’t get into too much of a conversation, because what if someone walks in and I’m not watching my assigned film. It would be like in high school when the drivers ed/health teacher leaves you alone to watch some kind of movie titled “Clamidia and You” and you are supposed to take notes but everyone ends up just talking. Ok, not really. I don’t think we watched any movies about STD’s in high school, did we? But we did watch those gross out wear your seat belt OR ELSE movies. But I digress. Once the little explaination film with the perky lady was over, I opened up the door to let them know I was finished, and then waited for the Nurse Practitioner to come in.
At this point, it’s been one and a half hours since I got there, and I’m starting to get hungry. I start to rifle around in my purse to find some kind of snack to help ease the quesiness, and wait some more. After a few minutes a big guy came in. I think his name was Kelly. He went over my charts and let me know that in just my right leg, I had three “serious” veins (my ‘greater sapheous vein’, ‘anterior lateral tributary’, and my ‘small saphenous vein’, if you must know. And if you think I’m just throwing those terms around, being the vein expert that I am, you would be wrong. I’m reading right off of the paper!) and explained quite well what the preferred course of treatment would be. So as not to TOTALLY bore you to death, I won’t go into all the glorified detail. Let’s just say they would do something called an ‘endovenous ablation laser therapy (EVLT) on those three veins, and then a couple of other things to some of those littler veins, and about here was when I kind of lost my concentration a little bit. Oh, look, something shiny! What were you saying? Oh, yes, let’s get down to the COST and does my insurance cover this whole vein party that you are planning for me?
The good news is that once we reach our ginormous deductible, our insurance will cover MOST of this at 100%. And we are not talking about cheap little procedures, here, folks. Each of these EVLT’s are billed at around $3900, and I’ve got at least three of them. Then there’s some other stuff called AP (ambulatory phlebectomy if you must know) that I don’t even want to talk about that are billed by the number of incisions that are made. Eek, I’m getting grossed out again just reading the paper, so I’ll skip over the rest. So, for this whole package (and this is one leg, mind you) it’s somewhere in the 12-20 thousand range. Wow! The bad news is that we have a $3000 deductible, and counting today’s payment, we’ve only met about $600 of that deductible this year.
Since they recommend that you do one vein, then wait a few weeks to heal, and then do another vein, (lather, rinse repeat), you need a good amount of time to do all of this. That is, unless you want to have it done all at once and then be in severe pain while it heals. With concerts coming up in a just a couple of short months, I think I’ll wait until the beginning of the year. Then I’ll have a whole year to do as MUCH as I can. I mean, once the deductible is met, I might as well, right?
If you are still with me here, congratulations. This is a lot of medical mumbo jumbo and it gets pretty boring and long, so I can understand if you’ve nodded off. You deserve treats.
In summary, Yes, they can help me, and yes, it’s going to be expensive. Thank goodness we have a health savings account for just such expenditures, and then insurance to cover the rest. But we’ll have to wait until the beginning of the year to start, so that I can get the very most for the money.
And hopefully we won’t have any more talk about veins until then. Ok? Ok.