Diagnosis: Murder Veins

This summer, Andy and I will be celebrating 15 years of togetherness with a Jamaican vacation. Also this summer, we’ll lose Andy’s good, employer-sponsored health insurance. Armed with these two pieces of information, I booked myself for a consultation at a vein clinic. You know, one of those places that will laser away your unsightly leg veins and maybe make insurance pay for it. Motivation: Look good in a swimsuit. And maybe stop ruining wedding photos with my my renegade legs.

I’ve long wondered what’s to be done about the state of my veins. They’re pretty impressive, and there’s a family history of women getting their veins “stripped” in Ye Olde Olden Days. I don’t know what that entails and I refuse to Google it, because ew. I haven’t worn shorts since 9th grade, and even then it was with opaque, mustard-yellow tights, because I know what looks good. Mini skirts have been out of the question, mostly because the last time I could get away with wearing them, I probably thought they were sinful. (I might still think they’re sinful.)

Neither my puritanical upbringing nor my feminist conversion give much allowance for vanity. Blow-dryers? I don’t understand them. Eyelash curler? Forbidden. Exercise? Never touch the stuff. Teeth-whitening strips? Fuck you. I classified fixing varicose veins the same way I think about getting a breast lift: Maybe a good tax write-off if I decide to go into professional stripping, but otherwise not easily justifiable. They still bothered me, but not enough for me to take any particular action. For years, my doctors would say things to the tune of, “Holy shit! Look at your fucking legs!” And I’d say, “Yes, doctor, what’s to be done?” Responses were as follows:

  1. “Insurance won’t cover it until you’re out of your childbearing years, because the veins will just come right back when you get pregnant.”
  2. “I can write you a referral to a specialist once you’ve decided not to have any [/more] children and/or gotten an IUD.”
  3. “Now that you’re done having kids and you got this IUD, lose some weight. That might help.”
  4. “Good job on losing that weight! Tough luck on those veins, though. This is just what happens when you have a baby.”
  5. “Have you tried compression tights? They’re fun for summer!”

Advice I support, in theory. In practice, let’s go see a doctor.

But recently, the vanity kicked in, and damnit, I want to wear a sinful miniskirt on a Jamaican beach without feeling like my legs are ruining everyone else’s vacation. Off to the vein specialist!

My doctor, a man with 30 years of experience as a cardiac surgeon and, most recently, 10 years specializing in vein repair, looked at my legs and whispered to himself, “Wow.”

“If you’re saying ‘wow,’ I feel pretty special.”

He assured me that I am special. And more pressingly, so are my monstrous veins. Insurance will cover it immediately. If my insurance company resists, he says, all he would have to do is send them a picture of my legs to prove that “this is no joke.” If I don’t get the valves in my veins repaired, a blood clot is imminent. Because of where the failed valves are located, that clot will be very dangerous, likely moving into the heart. Oh, and P.S., you’re supposed to take care of your veins before you get pregnant, you silly goose.

I … see.

Of all the health shit I’ve dealt with up to this point, my goddamn varicose veins — that like four doctors told me to cover with self-tanner and stop whining about —  were going to be the thing that orphaned my child? Are you fucking kidding me?

I go in for four surgeries (outpatient, minor, using lasers) next week, with a phlebotomy (gross-sounding, not going to Google it) likely to follow two weeks later.

Good thing I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I want to look good in a goddamn swimsuit.