Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More Vein Talk

I'm guilty of not blogging on my summer vacation from work. It's hard to sit in front of a computer when you don't have to (unless I'm watching Netflix while on the elliptical, which isn't really sitting). I didn't have any of my leg vein surgeries over the break because I had to wait 3 months from the time I first went to the vein clinic for insurance to approve my treatments, so I spent the majority of the summer in jeans or yoga pants. I didn't take a vacation (boo) because of personal circumstances and because I had to work to make money. However, at the end of July I did receive my first Endovenous Laser Ablation on my right leg. At that time I was under the impression that I would only have one EVLA on each leg, but when I went for the second surgery I learned that I was going to have 2 on my left leg.
I'm going to try to make this story as short as possible (because I tend to ramble). I took .5mg of Xanax just prior to the surgery & while there they injected numbing medication into my leg. I could still feel the doctor cut the incision and felt pressure where he was inserting a catheter. I was pretty grossed out at the thought of what was going on, so I didn't try to look. Yes, when the laser was applied I could smell something that reminded me of burning plastic. He said there might be an odd taste in my mouth, but I didn't experience that until the second procedure in August. The procedure didn't take very long, less than half an hour once they finally started. Afterwards, they wrapped my knee area near the incision with tight bandages. I put on my compression stocking & was ready to go home. I couldn't really feel anything in the leg for the first few hours, then once the numbing medicine wore off I was very sore. I took some of the 550mg Naproxen Sodium that I had prescribed for PMS and spent the next few days taking it relatively easy. Walking at least 30 minutes a day was suggested, but the doctor said I could use my elliptical as long as I didn't use much resistance. I had to wear a trash bag over my leg while in the shower until the bandages were removed on Monday, which was pretty frustrating and comical. After the bandages were removed I could see the Steri-strip, which I was told to leave until it fell off. (It was almost 3 weeks before that happened.) I was pretty sore and found that wearing the compression stocking helped with the pain some. I know that the effects of vein treatment will take time to show up, so I'm trying not to look at my legs that closely because not seeing improvement is only going to discourage me.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spider Veins Pt. 2

Yesterday I had an appointment with the vein specialist to go over the results of the ultrasounds from what feels like forever ago. Before the doctor even began talking, I started breaking out into hives from the hot temperature and small space of the room. That was pretty embarrassing and unrelated, but I figured I'd add that detail in.

I have ADHD, so it's difficult for me to sustain attention when people are talking to me, particularly in the afternoon after my medication has started to wear out. What I heard him say, without using too many medical terms, is that my primary vein system seems to be working all right, but my secondary vein system and the greater saphenous veins in both legs have some issues. (Really? I would have never guessed there was a problem.) This link has a little information about venous reflux disease. The idea that this is going on inside my body is very disturbing to me, because really anything dealing with veins grosses me out.

Before the doctor discussed treatment options he said that in order for insurance to consider paying for anything there was a 3 month waiting period from when I was first seen in order to document that compression stockings weren't working & that further treatment was necessary. After he said that, I felt tears welling up in my eyes & I was overcome with extreme disappointment. If you recall from my earlier post, when I had sclerotherapy several years ago there was virtually no waiting time & within a few months I was done. Here it is May & I would like to be able to wear shorts or skirts this summer. Having to wait until at least July means a whole summer wasted & treatment is going to cut into the next school year, meaning I may have to miss work. That is really not the preferred option, especially when I don't have to work for the next few months & could use that time to drive the hour to the doctor's office for treatment.

When I do finally start treatment, the doctor wants to use Endovenous Laser Ablation to treat the larger veins & probably some sort of sclerotherapy to treat the smaller or surface veins. Most of what he said is foggy due to my disappointment & trying to not break down into tears. The course of treatment isn't a one-day thing, it could take a few months to complete, which takes us well into fall or winter. At that point I'll be wearing long pants or jeans.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 5, 2012 "Super Moon"

These were taken from my front yard in southern Virginia with a Canon Rebel xs.

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Rant About the Adderall Shortage

I have been taking Adderall (or rather the generic form Amphetamine Salts) for 4-5 years to treat ADHD. When I started taking the medicine, it wasn't to lose weight, to get "high", or to stay up all night to study for exams. It was because I actually needed the drug to curb my impulsivity and inattention. The psychiatrist who initially prescribed the medicine also said it would help with my depression. I was taking graduate courses towards my Master's degree & it was impossible for me to focus in a class where the teacher was broadcast over a television screen. I wasn't able to finish projects in school & around the house without getting distracted & starting something else. These had always been issues for me, but until I started teaching special education & researching learning problems I didn't realize that I had a condition that was causing the problems.

Adderall is a Schedule II drug, which means you can't get refills like any old medication. You have to have the Rx in hand to give to the pharmacy. It can't be called in or faxed in. For the first few years I had to visit the doctor's office monthly to get the paper prescription. In more recent years the doctor has been able to write 3 months' worth of prescriptions with a "hold until" date. This saves money on co-pays for doctor visits, which can add up after time.

I first noticed the "Great Adderall Shortage" early in 2011. I went to my usual CVS & was told they were completely out of all amphetamine salts. In fact, all of the CVS stores in town were out. After the grueling process of calling virtually every pharmacy within 30 miles I was usually able to find one drug store that had what I needed. I've had to drive 20-25 minutes to get my prescription filled. There were several times when no one had Adderall. It was those times that I had to call the doctor's office to get a prescription for something different. I had to drive to the doctor with my old Rx to exchange for Dextroamphetamine. Then the calling around process began again. (FYI: I hate talking on the telephone.)

What I found with the substitute medication was that while it helped somewhat, it definitely wasn't the same as Adderall. There have been some days when I haven't been able to take my medicine because I didn't have it or could only take half of my dosage because I wasn't sure when I'd be able to get it. Those were hazy, zombie-like days where I lacked energy, motivation, & focus.

This article suggests that there might be an end in sight, but I'm not going to hold my breath.