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“Sixty shots of lidocaine on the wall”

Needle sharp shafts…

pierce my skin…

and leave their mark…

with tiny burning flames….

I tense again and again….

my face a stoic mask….

I am too terrified to speak…

afraid that what little bravery I hold…

will spill out of these bloody marks….

Snakelike sheaths march up my veins…

I taste the burning cautery…

as the room fills with smoke….

I remain silent, my muscles frozen….

 painfully locked in place against the fear….

The pain flows over me like a waterfall….

and I separate mind from body….

as trickles of blood slide down my skin…

to pool on the sterile sheets below.

This is a small description of a torturous procedure I had recently.  For the last 7 years I have had intermittent episodes of severe pitting edema in my lower legs.  When it first presented, I went to my primary, and since I was also very fatigued and was dreaming that I had cancer, I announced to him that I had cancer….somewhere, and I thought it was lymphoma.

When one presents crazy self diagnoses to ones’ primary, telling them that ones’ data is partly from a dream is not conducive to agreement.  More likely, they will think that one is having a bipolar moment and call the psychiatrist.

My primary is pretty cool.  He calmly told me that cancer is always possible but far down on the list of possibilities and it was time to get my veins fixed first.

I tried.  A thousand dollars later, after they assured me that my insurance covered it, they recanted and said for some reason my insurance was denying me.

I did have cancer.  Unfortunately it had nothing to do with my leg swelling.

The pitting edema has gotten so bad that at times I can hardly walk by the end if the day. I am struggling to keep my very stressful, active job with a body that is ready to quit.  So I decided to try again with a different center.  I told them my story and they said that of course my insurance covers it.  So a thousand dollars later my ultrasounds show that my veins still suck and I am a candidate.

Again at the last moment I was denied.  This time, the center took it all the way to the top of my insurance company.  And were told there was a rider placed denying treatment for venous disease.  A-ha, that is why I couldn’t get it done in the past, and why several other people I work with also were denied.

I hit the roof. Called the insurance rep for my hospital and told them that this was unacceptable, I was a candidate and she needed to get me authorized.  She did.  Funny thing is, everyone then denied that there was a rider, only a “misunderstanding”.

Hmmmm…..I have my own opinion about that, but now other people in my hospital can get treatment, and believe me I emailed them.

Having varicose vein treatment is nothing less than torture.  I had no idea.  While I really like all the people at the center I am getting treatment at, they are in the dark ages when it comes to pain management.  It is barbaric.  No pre-medication, nothing during the procedure but dozens of lidocaine shots and no pain medication after.  Have you ever had a lidocaine shot?  It burns like fire.  Now imagine up to 15 shots of 10-20 ml lidocaine all up and down your inner leg from groin to ankle, and large sheaths threaded up the vein so it can be burned closed.  I could see the smoke coming up from my body and taste the acrid smell of burning flesh.  Afterward I had huge hematomas from groin to ankle for about three weeks.

That was the easier procedure.

Yesterday I had “sclerotherapy” with vein stripping and another great saphenous vein closure.  I think I passed out after shot number 50.  Two hours of shots, introducers, cauterization, the hard pull of veins reluctantly leaving their 40-odd year home and the drip drip feeling of blood running down my legs.  I do remember the interventional radiologist asking his assistant to make sure I was still alive because no matter what they did I didn’t  move a muscle or even sigh.  He told me afterwards that I was the best patient he had ever treated.  LOL.

In me, terror induces a catatonic-like state.  Heck, I think a corpse would have moved more for him.

Today my legs look like I was beat to a pulp.  I can hardly move.  But–OH–I am grateful.  Grateful that perhaps this will help, that my insurance decided to pay for it, that I am TOUGH.  Hope makes the experience worthwhile, and the end will justify the means.

Why don’t they give pain medications?  I assume its because most people who get this treatment are old, have various amounts of neuropathy, take three pages of meds that may cause problems and they just don’t want to hassle with it.  I do think they need to prepare people better and announce that they will have to suck it up and take it like a person getting tortured.

There’s adult medicine for you.

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4 comments on ““Sixty shots of lidocaine on the wall”

  1. I’m sorry to hear you’ve suffered so much again.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  2. Oh dear. That sounds…absolutely…HORRIBLE!!! Now I’m even more terrified. My saphenous veins have been spontaneously thrombosing themselves, my inner legs are psychedelic blue, purple, and red…

    I think the failure to provide you with appropriate analgesia is probably due to the current panic in the medical community regarding opioids. My dog had surgery three days ago, and they gave her fentanyl premed, all kinds of intraoperative good stuff, and Tramadol to go home. You or I are expected to tough it out because of the recent spate of opiate phobia.

    How has the aftermath of the torture turned out for you?

    • Still undergoing it! Insurance backed out of paying after they approved it so I had to wait until it got sorted out. Had 70+ shots last week. Those really hurt as many were on the back of my legs and knees. Im pretty stoic but I almost had them stop. It feels like a bee sting, and lingers for hours after the shot is finished. Unfortunately you only typically get three appointments per leg, so you just gotta suck it up and endure if you want your legs to feel better. And they do–much less pain with standing and less heaviness overall. So in the end I endure pain to reduce pain.

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