Thursday, September 16, 2010

Young Blood: My recent, confusing experience with varicose/spider veins.

I started working in an office recently. I worked in my Dad's office before this, but the work day there was always fragmented, peppered with dog-walking and food making and laundry doing... I rarely sat for more than an hour or two, at most. At this job, however, I am sitting for multiple hours a day, arising only to file things and take my lunch.

As a result, over the last month, I've been noticing a weird kind of pain in my calves and sometimes in my back lower thighs. As I'm pretty vigilant (aka a hypochondriac) about noticing any possible or arising health problems, within a few times of noticing this pain I checked out my legs, and lo and behold, exactly where I felt the pain, I noticed some veins. They were bulging but I could definitely see them through my skin and they looked pretty large. I've also noticed small clusters of what appear to be spider veins, also in exact proximity to where I feel the pain. They're not at all what I would classify as full on "varicose" or "spider" veins, but they're definitely visible in a way they were not before.

My first reaction was: "WHAT THE FUCK?!

Varicose veins? SERIOUSLY? I'm 22 years old, for Christ's sake! This cannot be happening!"

For those of you who do not know what varicose veins are, they occur when (from my very recent and limited understanding) the valves that pump the blood through your veins, stop working properly and causes blood to collect in the veins. The veins then expand and the blood in them begins flowing in reverse, causing them to protrude and be painful. Greeeaaaaat.

The most common causes of varicose and spider veins include:

  • Going through a pregnancy
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Being overweight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Age - they appear more often as people grow older
  • Sex - they are more common in women
  • Heredity
  • Diet rich in processed, salty, sugary and otherwise shit foods
And, more rarely, varicose veins can be symptoms of serious health problems, such as tumours in the pelvis.

So far as I know, the only things on that list that apply to me are the fact that I am female, and the fact that I have recently begun sitting for long periods of time. Actually, I should say, I have recently started sitting for long periods of time in one position :P I have always done a lot of sitting. A lot, of sitting. So I guess in a way the "sedentary lifestyle" one could apply to me, too. Some would undoubtedly argue that it does.

I also, up until recently when I realized this, sit with my legs crossed a lot, in various different positions, but crossed nonetheless. This, I have learned, is a very bad idea, so I stopped.

But anyway, like I said I'm 22 years old, so the age thing definitely doesn't apply (most women who develop this problem develop it after 35 years of age). I'm 5'10" and between 125 and 130 lbs, so it's pretty safe to say I'm not overweight. And while my diet isn't perfect and may never be (does that even exist? ask anyone and you'll get a different answer), I eat a pretty large amount of raw, unprocessed food and steer pretty clear of fast food and junk food, with the exception of subs, pitas and pizza, the latter of which I don't even eat often. I haven't had any kids, and to my knowledge neither my Mother nor my Grandmother suffer from it.

Soooo I'm in a pretty weird spot mentally right now. I'm in the process of finding a new doctor in my area (STILL, after over a year living here), and when I find one I'll definitely ask about it. But since I have a pretty good idea what they'll suggest (nothing/drugs/surgery), and I have no intention of going down any of those paths, I've decided to start naturally remedying (?) myself until I can get some professional insight on the matter.

Some natural remedies I've come across are:

-Collinsonia Root
-Horse Chestnut Extract
-Bilberry Extract
-Grapeseed Extract
-Gingko Biloba
-Pine Bark Extract
-Raw Garlic
-Butcher's Broom
-Apple Cider Vinegar
-Vitamin E
-Vitamin K (topically)
-Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids
-EXERCISE. Even if it means pumping and bopping your legs under your desk, it's better than nothing!

Foods that are good for preventing and maintaining are:
-And others that currently escape me.

Foods to avoid:
-Foods with added salt
-White flour products
-Limit starch intake

So I'm going to try a bunch of these things and see if I get any results. I've also taken to massaging my legs in an heartward motion and keeping them raised whenever I can. I'll keep you posted :) I sure hope I can improve or reverse this, because I love to be active and the prospect of living the rest of my life with pain in my legs is completely heartbreaking...

Hoping for the best :) If anyone has other suggestions, I would love to hear them!