I’ve been lucky—knock laminate-covered particleboard—never to have been seriously ill in all my 42 years. And I know that if at some point in the very far off future (knock it again) I do get sick, I’ll lie back in my hospital bed, an IV dripping lifesaving medication (fully-covered, of course, because by then, it will seem absurd that it ever might not have been) into my arm. I will think, “I can’t believe I spent even a minute worrying about my stupid varicose veins when I could have been taking a naked bread baking workshop, or figuring out how Catherine Zeta-Jones remains 39 forever!” Priorities.
And yet, here I am, deeply appreciative for my health, and in the same moment looking down at what my daughter truly thought were lumpy blue worms under my skin. My best feature, they are not. My varicose veins are, right now, more of an issue of vanity than of health. They’re flat and blue, but I can expect them to poof up into little blobby lumps, like my mom’s.
According to the Mayo Clinic, without proper attention—and even with it—these ugly squiggles can begin to ache, throb or itch. Spider veins, which are similar to varicose veins, are caused by the same issue: Your veins get plain old tired of pumping blood back up to your heart against gravity, and stretch out like a water balloon that’s been used and emptied and used again. Because the veins are a bit lax, the blood can pool, making the veins more prominent and knotty.
There are, of course, doctors who will happily zap your veins with lasers or remove them altogether. There are also paints and sprays you can buy to make up your legs like you do your face, but I don’t see a makeup, no matter how perfectly matched to skin tone, masking what looks a little like a raised line of Crest toothpaste splooged haphazardly out of a tube onto your leg. Of all the self-care recommendations listed—exercising, elevating your feet, moving about, wearing compression stockings, and losing weight if you’re heavy—I’m liking the elevating your feet option the best. I suppose if your varicose veins do start to ache and throb, or if they really look so bad you won’t put on a pair of shorts in an Arizona summer, then surgury is no longer a luxury.
Forty-five minutes have passed and I’m still thinking about a few blue lines on my legs that don’t hurt, and I’m realizing that this is the real issue: Why is it that when we (and by we, I mean I, but perhaps some of you, too) don’t have something big to worry about, health-wise, we worry about something small with equal verve, rather than just not worrying?
I think I’m going to pretend I don’t have varicose veins that may someday hurt and look even worse, and maybe see about that naked bread baking workshop. If my health problems are mostly the kind that don’t look so hot but won’t kill me, I’m going to consider myself lucky, for yet another reason.
When you’re done here, check out www.formerlyhot.com, Stephanie’s site about being an adult tween—not old, but not young anymore, either.