Saturday night and I was sitting with my feet propped up on two large pillows from my bed, showered and fresh smelling, with surprisingly comfortable knee-high compression stockings. The only thing missing was a pint of Talenti Banana Chocolate Swirl Gelato.
It was happiness. I was comfortable. It has taken three weeks for me to get here.
Oh how I wish I was kidding about the rest of this but I’m not. About three weeks ago, a surface vein on my ankle – which has been a kind of a problem child for me for YEARS, ruptured (and all that entails). I got the bleeding to stop the first time but the second time it happened I was in the shower and the combination of warm water and gravity were just not my friends. No matter what I did or the amount of pressure I put on the vein, the bleeding wouldn’t stop. I got a very sleepy husband to drive me to the emergency room where we sat for three hours. By the time we were seen by a doctor, the bleeding had stopped and the doctor didn’t want to do anything to “aggravate” the vein. Home we went with no stitches, no skin glue, nothing – just a referral for a “general surgeon” who has a vein clinic in town. The only vein clinic in two counties I might add.
A week later I went to the doctor’s office to be measured for compression stockings – two weeks later I got my compression stockings at my consultation visit. I got no instruction on how to wear, put on or anything. Imagine my surprise when I got home with the stockings and after a brief struggle finally got them on. They were ginormous. Up past my knee they went (they’re supposed to be knee highs) and all the way to the lower portion of my thigh… This couldn’t be right. I took them back off and put them on again… Yup; still ginormous. There was at least 5 inches of extra stocking on each foot at the end of my toes. Basically, in order to wear them the way they were supposed to be, the heel of my stockings actually sat in my toes and the toes of my stockings were five inches out.
I immediately called the doctor’s office and explained that the stockings seemed to be very long. According to the doctor, this was normal. I countered that I didn’t think so. No, I was assured that it’s okay for them to be a bit long and that I should just “fold the excess” under my foot.
There was no way to wear my shoes like that. But I tried anyway. I looked online to find information on measuring for compression stockings, watched videos on how to put them on, I made phone calls and even had Bebe do another measurement of my legs. I finally headed out to meet Heather that afternoon to do a little blog work (and to rescue her from waiting for her tires to be done on her car) and I wore my stockings. They felt like I was stuffing toilet paper under my feet and then walking on said toilet paper.
Heather also took another measurement of my legs and between what Bebe took and what Heather took, they both came up with a size smaller stockings than the ones I was given.
Back to wrapping my ankle with an ace bandage. After that first day of wearing (not even a full day actually) they had a hole in one of them and snags on both. I wore a long skirt with them and drove to Heather, sat, and then drove home again. I wore my stockings one other day because I signed a form saying I would participate in this preventive pre-treatment kind of treatment in order for my insurance to cover things. But it was hugely uncomfortable to wear them and walk all day in my shoes at the office. Sigh and double sigh.
Long story short I gave up on the stockings the doctor’s office gave to me. With my new measurements, I managed to find very comparable stockings that were reasonably priced at Walmart on Saturday.
Every day I’ve been paranoid that the vein is going to blow again. There’s no guarantee that it won’t. I’ve been told to avoid swimming, warm/hot water and immersing it in water. Showers petrify me so I probably haven’t been as fresh as I normally am. I’m not sleeping at night because I keep waking up with the overwhelming fear that I’m bleeding again and it’s much hard to sleep with your legs above your heart than it sounds.
Though I don’t like the doctor’s office (more on that in a moment), I’m trying to follow the strict instructions: If I can choose between sitting and lying down, choose lying down and elevate the legs (as high as I comfortably can). Do not stand too long or sit too long. If I have to sit, elevate the legs (difficult in the office for sure). When I have to cover an event – I am on my feet practically the entire time and that always leaves my legs and my feet, swollen, hurting and the ankle with the bad vein looking as though I took a hammer to it because it’s completely black and blue. So following the directions has been important to me and getting people on board with the instructions has been a challenge.
I had red flags about the doctor’s office in the beginning – from the very flashy website, press page (seriously a press page – many of the articles advertorials, I know this because I’ve written content for one of the publications), and media release (which I refused to sign) to the staff whom every time I called really drilled in the importance of me being on time over all my other questions and concerns. The doctor himself was nice enough but just because he’s the only one in town doesn’t make him the best one in town and his support staff did not impress me – especially when I’m calling with a concern that could affect my treatment and I’m advised to fold the extra material under my foot over coming back in to the office to be re-assessed and measured.
And today? I’m calling the vein/general surgeon and cancelling my ultrasound appointment for my legs and the follow up. I’m currently searching for a new vein specialist and I’ve already been given the name of a doctor, the same doctor’s name by two different people who don’t know each other. Coincidence? I think not. However, I’m leaving options open because I want to find someone relatively close by so I’m checking within the Akron General Hospital system first.
And on Saturday night, there I sat. Comfortably. In new stockings. I browsed the website of the compression stockings that I bought at Walmart and located retailers that carried their thigh high stockings (so I’m able to wear shorter skirts) and more knee high stockings. I am planning a visit to our local medical supply store in the very near future. (I’m sure I’ll pay more directly at the medical supply store but I don’t care one bit – it will be worth it.)
And in case you’re wondering, No, I don’t care how old that makes me sound right now.
I called and cancelled my appointment and of course they asked why. When I explained my concerns over the size of the compression stockings I was again assured that they would be that long. I asked ” six inches too long?” and I was asked where on my knee did they come to so I explained that I had them about an inch or so below the knee and I should have pulled them up to just under my knee. I told them that I did that too and again, they were still extremely long and uncomfortable inside my shoe to walk on. I was then told that I wasn’t custom measured and that’s why they were probably too long and that they could write me a prescription and I could be custom measured by Wayne Health. I told them I found that interesting because I was re-measured by more than one person and I found compression stockings that fit wonderfully at Walmart. The office staff was audibly upset and told me that they weren’t true compression stockings and wanted to know the compression strength so I read the box to her. I then countered that they were true compression stockings because Wayne Health also carried them. I found that out through the brand’s website when I was looking for retailers because I wanted to purchase more. I also told her I purchased them for $19.97, a measly three cents cheaper than what they sold to me. I also informed them that since my flexible spending company was going to deny the charge for the stockings they gave me (they did not give me a true letter of medical necessity in order for our flex company to pay for them), I would want a refund because of the hole and snags after only the first half day of wearing. Again, she was definitely irritated with all of this but gave me their office hours so that I could come in and bring the stockings back and get my card refunded. Overall, she spoke to me like I was a fool and had no idea what I was talking about. She even said “the stockings are miserable” when I told her how uncomfortable the pair they gave me were as if it was normal and I was supposed to be miserable and uncomfortable. I informed her that yes I was miserable in the ones they gave me and why and that once I had a proper pair, I felt so much better -she sounded shocked at hearing that.
I actually feel awful for their patients who think this is how they are supposed to feel wearing the compression stockings and wish I could tell everyone that they’re not bad and with the proper fit your legs feel ten times better than if you weren’t wearing them at all.