Time, like veins, come to the surface of your skin and you no longer can ignore what's been done to you, the good and the bad, the evil and indifference with which you've approached your life. All the times I've spent standing around, at all those jobs that build up in my memory like blocks of cement intended to construct something of size and mass but have instead blocked my view of what's ahead. All those times I didn't hang up the apron and fluff pillows under my feet after a shift, all those times I didn't have time to bounce on the balls of my feet to get circulation moving in my legs because I was too busy trying to understand the workings of other humans at the silverware rolling station. In all the desk jobs I've had since then, my ass has never spread enough to counter the intensity these wan, purple veins have that creep through pale pale skin.

I was standing outside the other day and smoking, feeling the cold outside welcome through my worn layers and the sentence came to me: These are the beginning of the poor times. I saw it clear as if it ran across my eyes in in the digital lights that advertise the latest happy hour prices at your local bar or the outside temperature on the sign of a bank. And here I thought my poor times were ending, that there was some light up ahead, when perhaps I'd been waiting for the wrong light.

And so, I am marred with tiny, almost delicate, purple veins here and there, like parts of my personality, striving to rise to the surface to be seen, to be heard. I have been marked with age before that age would be typically due me, and for all my stretching and flexibility, for any collagen cream or meditation, they are forever a testament to my age. And I'm getting to where I don't mind so much anymore.

The causes of varicose veins.

Throughout its tour of the body, your blood, like trying to get water to flow uphill, can come across difficulties trying to get up your legs. To ease this process, the veins have little valves that snap shut behind the blood as it travels upwards. Should any of these valves wear out, blood collects in the veins making them bulge, giving a very attractive lumpy-leg feature.

Regular, extensive periods standing up or sitting down are prime causes varicose veins. So is being overweight, not getting much exercise or even being very tall, obese or pregnant. There are also good chances of receiving them as a genetic gift if either of the parents suffered from them, with the chances being even higher for women.

Before we move on, there's a little myth that needs outing, here. That being, they don't only occur with old-age. Not so, in my own personal case I had them since I was twenty-three only choosing to do something about them when I was twenty-six. They're associated with old-age, even I thought that, but, apparently, no.

But they can be removed with surgery, not just because they look like someone has opened up your skin and popped a few spoonfuls of porridge in there, they can in some cases, cause varying degrees of aching and discomfort.

The removal of varicose veins.

The operation to remove varicose veins can be performed in the same day and rarely requires patients to stay in the hospital overnight. After arriving in hospital you are given an injection to thin the blood and help prevent deep vein thrombosis and the surgeon will mark your varicose veins, checking that you understand the operation and requesting that you sign a consent form allowing the surgery to go ahead.

Under general anaesthetic, the operation itself usually consists of three parts. Firstly, the vein with the leaky valve - usually in the groin but can also be behind the knee - is tied so that blood cannot leak down. Secondly, but not always and depending on the nature of the veins, the vein can be stripped out altogether. Finally, a number of veins are pulled out through tiny stab wounds.

You will wake up after the operation with a bandage on your leg which can be removed after two days and replaced with an elastic stocking. Given with a spare to be worn while the other is being washed, the stocking should be worn continuously for two weeks. Believe me, it hurts. Don't even think about bending your affected leg.

Throughout the healing process there's a little pain involved which gradually decreases over the first week, but if it means returning to the world, smooth-legged and with the freedom to wear short skirts with pride, then it's a small price to pay.

Two post-operation warnings.

  • Prior to the operation, your leg will be shaved if, of course, you haven't shaved it yourself already. Hairs, being how they are, naturally grow back and wearing a stocking with a leg-full of stubble is one itchy experience I don't want to repeat.

  • For the two weeks while you wear the stocking and the wounds heal, the leg has to be kept clean and dry which presents a unique oxymoronic problem. It has to be kept dry which means no bath, yet it has to be kept clean which means... Um... Anyway, the absence of a bath or shower for two weeks topped the itchy legs for me, saved only by that first steamy hot bubblebath you run for yourself a fortnight down the line being such sweet, sweet candy.

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