Tuesday, January 22, 2019

One patient's perspective: coast-to-coast commute

One of Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen's patients is a 55-year-old nurse with quite a work commute. Beth lives in Ogunquit, Maine, but she works in California. 

Beth works for a national company that provides healthcare and rehabilitation in homes and hospitals. As a district director, she oversees the clinical operations for five long-term care facilities in the East Bay. She flies from Maine to California every Monday and then flies home on Friday. It takes all day to get from one coast to the other; when she’s at work, she’s on her feet for most of the day; and she’s had vein problems most of her life – a triple whammy in terms of venous health.

Like many people, Beth inherited “bad veins.” Her mother had varicose veins, and all but one of her six siblings have “pretty significant” varicose veins. Beth also has a 35-year-old son with extreme varicosities.

Over time she has experienced more and more problems with varicosities. After the birth of her second child, she had a vein stripping done and then another one in the mid 1990s. In addition, up until the last ten years, Beth has suffered from obesity. She believes that the extra weight combined with the venous insufficiency also caused edema in her legs that’s been difficult to keep in check.

“It feels like I’ve been managing this for more than 30 years,” said Beth. “And my legs are still a hot mess despite everything that’s been done to them.” 

Her occupation has exacerbated her issues, as she spends 10-12 hours on her feet during the week, paired with a commute that requires traveling for hours in a plane twice a week. Despite reducing her weight significantly and wearing compression socks daily, Beth was struggling again with achiness in her legs. By mid-afternoon the pain would be so great she’d have to “pop an ibuprofen” to get through the day.

After going to a board-certified phlebologist for an evaluation, Beth learned about the advances in vein care since the days of vein stripping – and the importance of locating, and treating, the “leaky” vein valve at the source.

After initial endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), Beth is no longer feeling any discomfort in her legs, however her ultrasound evaluation showed that “there was a lot of work to be done.” She has begun to wear full-length compression stockings on flights and at work, and she plans to finish her recommended treatment plan, which will include several sessions of sclerotherapy.

As Beth continues the process, she has this advice for people with similar problems: “The treatment modality is basically painless and simple. If you can get rid of the pain and edema – and the harm that the long-term edema causes – you’d be a fool not to do it.” 

To read more stories of real-life patient experiences, click here. If you're looking for relief from leg pain, varicose veins, or other venous issues, contact the Vein Healthcare Center to make an appointment for a thorough exam.