Saturday, July 19, 2008

training with varicose veins

left calf and varicose veinsA few folks asked what, exactly, these varicose veins look like so here's a picture (right) that I took just an hour ago. The angle is my looking down from above and rotating my heel in so as to get a better shot of the side/back of the calf.

The spot of the initial injury is in the upper right part of the picture, and all the bumps and lumps you see throughout my calf are the result of cascading failures in the valves of my superficial veins.

What I learned from the Family Doctor web site completely gels with what I'm experiencing day in and day out:
All the leg veins have delicate valves inside them, which should allow the blood to flow only upwards (towards the heart), or from the superficial veins to the deep ones through the perforating veins. The valves protect against the head of pressure that would otherwise exist in the veins of the legs on standing. If there were no valves, there would be a pressure in the veins at the ankle equivalent to the height of the column of blood all the way up to the heart. It is this head of pressure that causes symptoms and damage when the valves stop working properly, as they often do in varicose veins. A valve occurs every five to ten centimetres in the main superficial veins of the legs.
It seems as if my calf is a battlefield of failed valves, and the more I think about it, the more this might explain why I've had such trouble with my calf cramping during swimming: there's reduced blood flow to the calf because of the failed valves, and with reduced blood flow, the cramping occurs. Hmmmm, I might be on to something that the insurance company may need to heed.

In any case, I'm now 100 hours into wearing my snazzy (not) knee-high compression sock, and me no like it. Never been a fan of tube socks, so you can imagine how much I'd enjoy having just one of my calves covered all day and night. Yes, I understand it's good for me, but having this thing gripping my calf 23 hours a day is annoying to say the least.

But, it's what the doctor ordered, so I'll keep wearing it. I just don't know if I'm ready to wear it while running/biking/swimming. It's rather a hideously nerdy looking thing.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Whoa, nothing like a picture. I'd be freaked out too. I'm glad it's not as dangerous as it looks. Wear that hideously ugly sock if it will help. Good luck with the insurance!