Saturday, August 8, 2009

These Legs; Look at the River!

Some weeks ago, my favorite coworker, Becca, pointed to my knee and asked me what was wrong with my vein. She said, Veins are supposed to be straight. That's not straight!

Imagine, if you will, a gnarling, green-blue river that snakes and winds its way up and around the knee to the inside thigh. Had I noticed it before that second? I guess I did--but it didn't really look like that, at least I don't remember it looking like that. It wasn't twisted, for starters, just closer to the surface and really dark. Now that Becca pointed it out, there aren't any moments when I don't know it's there; I'm constantly aware of the tightness and the slow, dull ache of bad circulation in my lower leg.

In case you don't know very much about varicose veins, here's a little lay-medical snippet:

Healthy veins pump blood back to the heart with a series of one-way valves that prevent the backward flow of blood and the build up of pressure. When we are standing there is a lot of pressure pushing blood back down towards our feet. If these one-way valves are not working, blood can pool in the leg veins causing the veins to enlarge. Varicose veins are dilated veins just under the skin.

Ever feel like you just can't catch a break?
Double ugh.
This really messes up that picture of myself at 45 that I have in my head--the one of me in an elite yoga outfit stretching in a mountain range under an expansive blue sky at 6:00 am. A grateful, wise head above me and a strong, capable body beneath me.

I'm doing whatever I can do--elevating my legs when I'm sleeping or sitting for long periods of time and doing funny feet exercises to flex lower leg muscles and increase blood flow. And of course, there's my daily exercise to increase circulation and raise my blood pressure for a small moment each day.

But it's official: I'm going to be that woman--the one who has to have special assistance at parties; chairs & cushion props always nearby.

Pffft. I've also started doing weird things that feel like they might make a difference, like massaging the vein upward toward my heart, not really knowing if it's helping or hurting. I'm even cutting down my salt intake.

Less salt?
{Insert groan}
I love my salty sunflower seeds from Trader Joes.
I love my salty Snyders of Hanover pretzels.
I love salty eggs.
Buuuuut, I really do like having usable legs, too.

At the end of the day, there's only so much we can do to stave off bodily decline. I'm trying to incorporate every possible healthy lifestyle habit that I can into each 24 hours that I've been given, in an attempt to hold at bay the eventual decay of this delicate vessel I call home. But after all the hard, responsible things have been done, and these unsightly, unfriendly reminders of the fallen world are still snaking in dark rivers across my leg--it's time to make my way through the crowd and and call out for some intervention from Christ, the Healer. It's time for me to reach out and touch the hem of His garment, as it were.

There is hope of deliverance {an awfully big word for such a small need}-there is hope for me that He can and will restore health and bring life and newness to these damaged pathways.

And that brings me to the bigger picture. One thing I did learn last month is that a person can't ignore body issues.

Remember when you were a child and you covered your eyes to hide yourself from a person, thinking that once you couldn't see them, they couldn't see you, either? Well, death and sickness can see you, even if you put your hands over your eyes. It's foolish to deny the need for help and healing; to hope that it will all work itself out, even when you feel death chasing you and changing you. You have to face these things.

Dad's final surgeon told us that the biggest cause of the heart problem that Dad had was denial. There were things he could have changed or done; help he could have gotten. But he didn't even acknowledge the pain. Somehow you have to acknowledge the sickness before you receive the cure. And no, denial isn't a cure.

I've got to face this pain/ this damage/ this decay/ this brokenness. I've got to pray about it, seek wise advice about it, change my ways.

As my friend Dixon often says:
Pray, God is near.


  1. i completely relate to this except my blood pressure is so low they make me take salt tablets to try to raise it.

    i was told varicose veins are something that people in their 60s had.. i was confused when i saw one on my leg too.

  2. Good, so I'm not the only under 60 year old with this! That's a relief.

  3. They run in my family. I'm (newly)27. I feel ya. And thank you for the reminder to take care of ourselves. I'm sorry for your loss, but grateful that you're using it to remind and encourage others(I hope that my 'but' did not seem insensitive- it is not meant that way at all, pinky promise).

  4. Mandie--I'm trackin' with ya, not to worry. Thank you.

  5. Girl, my mom has them and they run in the family. She actually had outpatient surgery done on hers b/c she has had them for 25 years and finally she decided to do something about the pain. She is constantly elevating her legs like you. But, we know a God that is bigger than all of us that can completely make your vein normal :) Praying for you!


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