By Mimi Vanderhaven
Jennifer Cost, of Mentor, is a busy, active mom of an eight-year-old daughter and she works full-time in customer service for an industrial ceramics company. She can’t afford to be tired. So when Restless Leg Syndrome associated with varicose veins began interfering with her sleep, she sought help from Dr. Sonja Stiller, founder of Mentor’s Center for Advanced Vein Care. Here’s her story:
Mimi: When did you first start noticing symptoms of varicose veins?
Jennifer: I was pretty young. In my early thirties. My mother and grandmother both had varicose veins so there is definitely some heredity involved. My legs were always achy. About 10 years ago when I was living in Sagamore Hills I first thought about treatment, but I put it off. I kept reading about it and thinking about it, though.
Mimi: What made you finally decide to seek treatment?
Jennifer: At first my legs were just achy and I was concerned about their appearance. I didn’t want to wear shorts. But then it became a medical condition. I started getting Restless Leg Syndrome [RLS], which was so annoying. I couldn’t fall asleep at night without tossing and turning. I would have to kick and twist and turn constantly. I could never get comfortable. It was terrible. Dr. Stiller explained that it was from fluid and toxins building up in my legs.
Mimi: And how do you sleep now?
Jennifer (smiling): I sleep like a baby.
Mimi: How did you find out about Dr. Stiller?
Jennifer: I saw an article about her in your magazine and decided to make an appointment for a consultation. There was no commitment, so I thought I would just go in and see what it’s all about. That was last September. I met with Dr. Stiller and her team. They were so nice. She explained what was going on medically and why I was having these problems. Plus, I remembered what my grandma’s legs looked like when she was older, and I definitely did not want to look like that. I felt like my legs were 20 years older than I am. I felt old already. I learned that my health insurance would cover it, so I said let’s do it.
Mimi: And how is your health now?
Jennifer: My RLS is completely gone and my legs look so much younger. I don’t mind wearing shorts again. But more than that, I can stay on my feet all day. I can take my daughter to the zoo or the park and not have to cut the day short because my legs hurt. That’s really important to me.
I originally went to see Dr. Stiller because of my RLS, but then I discovered how unhealthy varicose veins really are. So it became less about lifestyle and more about knowing that my circulation is working properly, that my legs are healthier, my body is healthier. Getting rid of the toxins was a big motivator for me. My mom did not have surgery. In her generation, there was only stripping surgery, but today there are many more high-tech options.
I decided not to wait until I was older. I decided to do it now and have a healthier second half of my life.
Mimi: Can you talk a little about the timeline?
Jennifer: Sure. I first saw Dr. Stiller in September of 2016. Then I did the stocking requirement through October and had several treatments through May. I decided to take the summer off so I just had my final treatment last month. It’s funny, I waited all summer then we had the hottest days of the year in September.
Mimi: Have you noticed improvement in any other symptoms?
Jennifer: The big difference is the ability to relax and fall asleep without flopping and flipping around for an hour. When your legs are restless your mind is restless, too. You can’t relax. It’s much easier to do yoga now. My fatigue is also gone and so is the swelling and itching. Oh, the itching was ridiculous. I’d even get little bruises all over my legs after the itching. All that is gone now.
Mimi: Do you wish you would have had treatment sooner?
Jennifer: Sort of, but the timing feels right to me. If I would have done it sooner I might not have found Dr. Stiller. She was so nice and so comfortable to be around. She explained everything in ways I could understand and she and her team took care of everything, including handling all of the insurance. They were super nice.
And I had no downtime. I didn’t miss any work. I went to my appointments then went straight to work afterward.
Mimi: Do you have any advice for others who may be considering varicose vein treatment?
Jennifer: First, I would tell people that compression stockings are important. They really do help your legs, but you need the right fit. Be sure to have someone measure you.
I would also recommend that people go see Dr. Stiller and her team and talk with her and get an evaluation. Just talk with her. There’s no commitment. Find out what you need to know—where your health is—then make a decision. Just guessing is not good.
Dr. Sonja Stiller is a diplomat of both the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine and the American Board of Emergency Medicine and is the founder of the Center for Advanced Vein Care located at 7200 Mentor Ave., in Mentor.