I wasn’t the first one to notice them.
After almost a month of walking like I had a 20 pound weight attached to my left leg, it was the last thing on my mind. My mother had spider veins, after all. I was 20 years old. Fit and thin, lucky enough to have inherited her “skinny” gene. And especially with summer approaching, I had desperately wanted to show off my soon-to-be tan legs like they were doing my talking for me.
But, like most blissful ignorance, it soon came to an end. And there I was, lying in bed, following the gaze of everyone who came to visit down to my left thigh, where my pasty skin was practically a translucent backdrop to the royal blue veins that ran across its surface.
It certainly wasn’t the most devastating thing to happen to me in the past month. But it served as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
After months of pain in my left thigh and hip, I woke up one morning in unbearable pain, unable to walk. After hours of poking and prodding, doctors discovered that birth control had caused a blood clot to slowly form in my left thigh. Seven months after popping that first little pill, it had grown so large that walking around with it for one more day would have likely led to a pulmonary embolism.
Relatively healthy my entire life, I had no idea how serious the situation was. It wasn’t until my parents showed up to the hospital, stricken with grief, that I realized my overnight stay in the hospital was only the beginning.
After weeks of blood thinner pills, blood thinner shots, the inability to walk like a normal human and every other terrible side-effect that came along with the entire ordeal, spider veins felt like a stab in the heart. How could I ever show my legs again? If they’re this bad at age 20, how bad will they be at age 50?
It took weeks of consoling from just about everyone I knew to make me realize that by constantly wailing about how hideous my leg looked, I was drawing more attention to it. After a few more weeks, the wonder of self-tanner helped ease the pain even further.
Today, spider veins are much more noticeable in my left leg than my right. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is my attitude towards them. Worrying about the smallest details of my appearance caused me to lose sight of what really mattered – that I came out of a potentially scary situation unscathed, and had a gaggle of people that loved me to boot. Putting life into perspective helped to show me that in the grand scheme of things, spider veins rank pretty low. This summer, I plan on giving my legs the same amount of attention they’ve always gotten, short-shorts and all. Besides, if I don’t care about my spider veins, why should anyone else?