Dream of Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb Realized By Outdoorsman, VeinInnovations’ Patient Randy Yates

 

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Randy Yates at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro

 

Randy-Yates-Post-ItClimbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was dream that became a reality in 2013 for Randy Yates, a VeinInnovations patient whose intensive training and preparation for the climb also included taking care of some bulging veins before taking on the world’s highest fee-standing mountain.

“I was concerned about these bulging veins, that, during training, or worse, during the climb, one of them would get nicked and start bleeding. So I wanted to get my legs checked, ” Yates said.

“I’d heard about VeinInnovations on the radio, and had thought about coming in a year earlier, but with this trip in the works, and having met my insurance deductible, well, it was time,” he said of his treatments, which began in 2012 in preparation for his August, 2013 climb.

At his initial visit to VeinInnovations, Yates learned that his torturous veins were caused by the failure of delicate one-way valves in the veins.

“Healthy valves keep blood from flowing backward as it is pumped back up to the heart and lungs to be re-oxygenated. When valves fail, the blood flows backwards, or refluxes, and pools. This can result in varicose veins that bulge or balloon, as well as spider veins, pain, and a sense of heaviness or fatigue, as well as swelling,” says Darrell Caudill, MD, and VeinInnovations’ medical director.

While Yates also didn’t like the way the torturous veins looked, because “if they looked like this, there must be something wrong,” the fact that his legs felt so much better – in addition to looking “normal” again after his three ablative procedures – was a big surprise and bonus.

“After the procedures, I noticed my legs didn’t feel so heavy and tired. I did not anticipate feeling so much of a difference. I didn’t realize how much heaviness and fatigue I was experiencing.”

Further, Yates says he slept better following his procedures,

“Some people with venous insufficiency need to move their legs at night to overcome a sensation of itchiness. Other people feel the need to get up and move around,” said Dr. Caudill.

“Sometimes my legs made it a little harder to get to sleep, and if I woke up in the night, sometimes they made it harder to go back to sleep. But I never did anything about this, because I did not want to take any medication,” said Mr. Yates.

The fact Mr. Yates sleeps better now is another of the unexpected benefits of the procedures, and is also one of the benefits Dr. Caudill says helps stop a “downward cycle of quality of life that can creep up on people with venous insufficiency.”

“Most men – and women -believe heavy, tired, restless legs are just part of the aging process. Or, they just don’t notice the symptoms creeping up on them, because the symptoms build at such a slow rate. There is no ‘Wow! My legs hurt all of a sudden!’ moment. That is one of the reasons this disease is so insidious. As their legs slowly get worse, people gradually lose interest in exercise. They may also not recognize – and thus, accept – the gradual decline of sleep quality. This combination of losing exercise and sleep impacts their overall quality of life, making them give up on their dreams of, say, climbing mountains,” said Dr. Caudill.

Yates has always been an outdoorsman. In his work for the federal government, he plans outdoor parks and recreation sites around hydroelectric reservoirs. He, and his four sons, are Eagle Scouts. In addition to the Kilimanjaro trip being a lifelong quest for his son, Corey, traveling to Kenya to see the home and final resting place of the founder of Scouting, Robert Baden-Powell, in Kenya, was on the list for both men.

“Scouting has played such an important role in our lives, for so many reasons. I appreciate how much it encourages us to exercise and be physical. It is so important throughout life, and especially as we age, to stay active, ” Mr. Yates says.

As a child, Mr. Yates and his intrepid mother, aunt, and grandmother, traveled all over the country, pulling a camper.

“I remember now that when we traveled, I would go on the hikes, but they didn’t hike. Now that I remember, they all had some problems with their legs. I had not put that together until now – the hereditary part of vein disease, ” Yates said.

Recounting the Kilimanjaro trip, Yates said the climb took a tremendous amount of strength and endurance. It is six days of hiking, one of which is 22 hours. Could he have made the trek prior to his procedures?

“Kilimanjaro is a continuous uphill walk for four and a half days. The most difficult part of the climb is the 22-hour day, which starts at midnight and includes six hours of walking in slippery ash – in the pitch-black dark, guided only by a headlamp to show you how to step into the footprints of the person directly in front of you. All of this is at below freezing temperatures – at 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It is so physically demanding. Many people take their legs for granted, until they get tired and wobbly. There were people turning back. I was the oldest person in my group, and my legs gave me no problems. Had I not sought help for the bulging veins, I would not have had the benefit of improved circulation and endurance that were the ‘side benefits’ of the procedures,” said Mr. Yates.

Knowing what he now knows about venous insufficiency, what does Mr. Yates say with regard to seeking treatment?

“I would tell people sitting on the fence about it to not be afraid. Get in and get a consultation. The technology is amazing.  It is worth pursuing.” Mr. Yates says, adding, “Don’t be afraid of the unknown.”

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Randy Yates (Right) and his son, Corey Yates (Left) at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro