Spiders And Other Veins
by Marjorie Dorfman

What do you do when spider veins have taken over your legs? Well, don't just stand there! Zap them! After that, read on for a more mature solution.

Zane Grey's Riders of The Purple Sage may have been a western with cowboys, cattle rustlers and Indians racing across the plains shooting up the land and each other, but the purple that rages across my thighs comes from the northeast. It is in that geographic region where I reside in all my violet glory. We are all agreed that purple and/or violet is a beautiful color for sunsets, Liz Taylor's eyes, drapes flowers or even a dress. That's a far cry, however, from accepting it as a viable flesh tone!

I don't even know how it all happened anyway. The last thing I remember (either from the southwest or the northeast) was that I was about nineteen years old. Then one night I went to sleep. I woke up the next day to find my middle-aged self with purple and pink lines running across my legs, with no particular destination in mind. I told them to leave, but they wouldn't listen. You would think I had been talking to a group of teenagers who had the stereo turned up too loud.

The truth about these spider veins is that they are here and so am I. ("Maybe millions of people go by.") Is there a way for us to live in some sort of symbiotic harmony? Not on your life! It's me against them. They have to go go until they are gone gone. The really big problem (even bigger than Ed Sullivan's really big show) is that these veins come back even after they've been zapped, not taking no for an answer. Even the doctor who zapped more than a few of mine told me that to remove them was like trying to plug up Niagara Falls. They don't return to the same spot, but they come back just the same, only to taunt and clash with whatever outfit I had in mind to wear.

Cover them up, you say. Don't look at them! I agree. That does work for a while, but spider veins can still leave one with no desire to sing in the shower or the rain. (Could be both places at the same time if careful attention to locale is not paid.) Unfortunately, in the case of spider veins, out of sight is not out of mind. Nor is it true that absence of spider veins makes one's heart grow fonder of them. None of the old proverbs, in fact, can offer any consolation at all as to their damn intrusion into every day life. (This may be because at the time these homey little pearls of wisdom were written down for posterity women didn't live long enough to develop them.)

Words of advice rather than wisdom prevails. Zap them out until you drop or can't afford it, whichever comes first. (It will probably be the latter. You can trust me on that!) Put the whole nightmare on a credit card, as most insurance policies won't cover cosmetic surgery. Make sure, however, that you do not use a purple-colored credit card because the symbolism will be too acute and it will be very upsetting.) I do guarantee that if the veins are in a prominent spot it will make you feel better not to have to look at them. It's like washing that man right out of your hair, or something like that.

I have submitted to the painless procedure of saline injection, vitamin C and three days of wearing support hose four or five times myself. I only stopped because when the little buggers decided to come back it was on a lower portion of my calf. I almost felt they had an ego all their own and that they seemed to say: "You can't get rid of us! There's no place to hide!" I don't know why they returned in a different spot with a different configuration, but I do know that I don't want to feel obligated to match my shoes and bag with my flesh tone in a few years. It's bad enough I have to be careful not to clash with everything else!

Spider veins will never not be. I cannot let mine be either and therein lies the dilemma. They do seem to run in families, but unfortunately, they never run away from families either as a result of amnesia or to establish new identities. My mother had them and so do other family members whose names I'd rather not mention because they are innocent. Its better than inheriting leprosy, but that's still little consolation when you want to wear a pair of shorts and are afraid of what the sight of your legs in public might cause. Of course, in all honesty, who really cares?

I once saw a lovely woman in shorts with beautiful, shapely legs walking in an outdoor flea market in New York City. Nothing wrong with that, you say. Well, varicose AND spider veins took up her entire legs, from thigh to ankle. Still, she bravely went about her business. I never forgot her. She was absolutely right. After all, it's really only attitude that we are talking about here. She walked in beauty with her head held high and thus she was.

If there is a moral anywhere, I have no idea what it is. I suppose it could be to learn to live with non-lethal things and maybe make friends with them. Don't sweat the small veins. They do bother me, but as I said before, leprosy would bother me a lot more. Cover them up and wear dark glasses in the shower. The lights are off for most of the night so that covers at least one third of anyone's normal day. Talk to them. Reason with them. They will still be there afterwards. It's like that when we fall in love in vein.

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Copyright 2002