November 18, 2010

Beauty in Bruises

"Die vein ist kaput!"  (Dee wain ist kaput!) 

So said my German vascular surgeon last August.  Ok.  What do you want to do about it Dr. ......?  He was also the chief of a well known (to my area of Deutschland) clinic that specializes in such issues. 

"We will take it out!"  He then proceeded to explain the procedure (really without a whole lot of detail).  It sounded simple enough.

Multiple pregnancies, although miraculous and joyous,  left my right leg battered.  I started noticing slowly worsening varicose veins beginning with Baby #3 twelve years ago.  The last couple of years they'd become more bulging and painful on the inside of my right knee.  And, given my family history of thrombosis issues, my military doctor at the base agreed that it was time to do something.  I was given the choice of travelling down to Landstuhl (an hour away) to the big military hospital down there, or finding a doctor "on the economy", meaning a German. 

I started asking around and found that the nationally (and internationally) renowned hospital for this specific issue is located 15 minutes up the road.  God doesn't do coincidences.  The more I inquired, the more people knew about this place.  They'd either been there, or knew someone who had.  They ALL raved about all aspects of it.  Interesting.....

My initial screening was back in August.  In a multitude of exam rooms, I was turned every way possible (including nearly upside down) to measure the blood flow in my legs using ultrasound and some other computer imaging thingies I wouldn't begin to know the names of.  It was very thorough and the good part was, they (mostly) spoke English.  A surgery date was set, but I was still leery.

I did my research and honestly, there's not a lot of information out there about this.  In other words, there's really not ONE standard procedure that all docs do, like a bypass for example.  And after hearing this ground-breaking doctor explain why other procedures don't completely fix my particular problem, I decided (after much prayer) to take the plunge and go forward.  Albeit scared of 'going under' and doing this in a foreign hospital.

So, I went in last Sunday, in order to prep for surgery Monday.  I had a private room that looked more like a hotel room, complete with sitting area. I would equate the clinic to an assisted living facility.  Everyone ate together in the dining room and I was assigned a table to sit for meals.  The Lord was also good here (isn't HE always?) and gave me new friends that could also speak my language who sat at my table!!! The four of us had surgery the same day and suffered through together!! The nurses and staff made sure that anyone treating me could speak English.  They took my blood, started blood thinner injections, inserted a central IV line and completely marked up my afflicted leg.  I wish I'd taken a picture.  It looked like a map.  Different colors and everything.  The lines went all the way from the top of my leg to my foot. 

On Monday, they gave me a sedative to relax me before surgery, and I was grateful.  As I was laying on the table waiting for the 'big drugs' to take effect , with arms outstretched, and watching the surgeon mark up my leg yet again with his pen (his was red), I thought about vulnerabilityHe (my Great Physician) has grown me so much this year and really the last few months.  He keeps asking me to just trust.  It's scary.  But I'm growing.  And, really, that's what this life is.  Being vulnerable to whatever He wants to do with us.  Maybe not really understanding His language or what he's doing or why.  Really...REALLY...all we CAN do is trust. 

I woke up in the recovery room to a cup of coffee (in a cup and saucer mind you as the Germans don't do styrofoam) sitting beside me and my legs in some big blow up balloon things squeezing....and....a drainage contraption coming out of the big incision at the top of my leg.  (This amounted to a 6x6 clear plastic box for drainage after surgery.) Hmmmm.....Didn't know about that one.... They wrapped up my whole leg with so many layers of foam and bandages, I looked and walked like an NFL player.  Or maybe what I would walk like in football pads....

I was walked back to my room, and pain meds were given (no clue then what they were)....still trusting....

The following days brought another more minor surgery to remove the lower and smaller veins from my shin and another session to inject the remaining ones (even smaller) with a medication that gets rid of those.  Yep, four days of treatment, all the while walking 4 times a day for 20 minutes and living with a drainage thing and in football pads.  This was a good thing, for when I got to actually look at my leg, it really wasn't pretty.  Lots of different beautiful hues of deep blue.

It's now been a week since the surgery and I'm on the mend.  My bruises are changing and lightening some, no pain meds and all the stitches are gone.  Still on blood thinners that my sweet hubby injects every evening more as a precaution given the family history, but I'm doing well.  No more bulges.  I'm grateful for a God who is willing to take all my bulging ugly sin, take it away, and reroute my heart!! Changed and 'fixed' from the inside more ways than one.

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