Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Mystery Behind Green Snakes On Your Legs- Solved !!!!

One of the many things I remember about my granny is the fact that she used to be extremely fair and strong, and had bluish green veins all over her legs. As a kid, I would often touch the skin there with intrigue and exclaim- Wow, look at the snakes on your legs !

I do not know why am I being reminded of this today.

My job with the worms requires me to keep standing or walking in the lab for a good 5 hours a day, 7 days a week. I started to come home with my feet all swollen. I thought the problem would go away with time, but every morning started to be a pain for me when I would be in bed in so bad a state that even getting up would require huge amounts of determination.

People had their own interpretations and solutions to it. Some said that it was because I had gained weight in recent months. Some said that perhaps the fluids in my knees had gone dry and I should start taking glucosamine pills to lubricate it. Some said that it was perhaps juvenile arthritis. Some said that perhaps I was overworking while some said that it was perhaps because I did not have much physical activity. While the dumber ones visually diagnosed it to be filariasis, the wicked ones gave me those nasty “oh are you pregnant?” looks without saying a word (now you know why they call it paaon bhaari hona).

To get an expert opinion about what is happening, I went to the doctor. And despite years of studying human anatomy and physiology, there were so many things I learnt in my visit.

An external examination of my legs immediately revealed those green snakes my granny had. These are known as the varicose veins. These are located close to the skin, are more common in women, usually appear before 40, and get worse with age.

Since the veins in the legs have to return blood to the heart against the force of gravity, and they have no muscles (unlike arteries), the veins use the muscles of the legs to aid in this process. When the valves in the veins that ensure unidirectional blood flow stop functioning, the blood cannot reach up the heart and thus the blood accumulates and swell up the lower part of the body, especially the legs.

This can cause due to one or a combination of factors like pregnancy, excess weight, and standing for long hours. These are usually genetic. They cause intense swelling or cramps and heaviness in the legs. The initial stage can be treated by wearing special elastic stockings available in pharmacy stores, by making sure that you do not stand for long hours, and by consciously sleeping with your legs placed on a pile of pillows and by keeping your legs above the level of your heart when you are sitting. Physiotherapy also helps a lot. Complicated case diagnosis may include sclerotherapy, laser techniques, or surgery to remove the veins in worst cases.

Other steps to avoid aggravating the problem include avoiding crossing ones legs while sitting, exercising the calf muscles while sitting, and raising the legs higher than the level of the heart while resting. The point is not to let fluids accumulate in the legs.

These were quite interesting to know. First, I had no idea that only certain people have blue veins. Second, I had no idea that I had blue veins. And this has got nothing to do with having royal blood or blue blood, like granny used to joke. Initially, I hated the idea of accepting that something is wrong with me. But what the hell, if a machine has a defect, just need to go repair it.

So it is gonna be special stocking and as much of rest as possible for me for the next few weeks. For all those of you out there who have always wondered about those green lines snaking your feet, you now know what they are and what to do about it. And for all those who need to stand or sit in a position for long hours, try taking special care of your feet now.

Now I know why I hated going for movies and the idea of sitting cramped in a place for 3 hours and coming out with swollen legs. Now I know that I hated chemistry practical classes since I had to keep standing. I remember once I got the stool to rest my knees on, and the teacher was so offended that she indirectly hinted about the luxuries I was used to and how I should opt for humanities or commerce if I could not bear to stand in labs. My board exams and university exams always got my legs swollen, and so I always made it a point to prop up my legs on a chair while I wrote the exam. This has earned me so many nasty stares from ignorant teachers because raising your legs is a sign of disrespect apparently. I remember munching on biscuits during the 4 hour exams actually made an invigilator ask me not to do that. I had to tell her that I have gastric ulcer and not eating for 4 hours would only mean having to call an ambulance. Of course I exaggerated, but that was good enough to shut her up.

Anyway, on my way back from the doctor's, I met this acquaintance of mine who seemed all excited to share her health updates with me. She has been on her period, bleeding for 25 days now, and was debating about seeing the doctor.

“Do you know the doctor said she will do a pelvic exam. Andar haath daalte hain kya? Do they put the hand inside?”

The very lack of euphemism put me off.

“Yeah, but it isn’t painful. I got a routine pelvic done last week”.

“Oh man, I am still a virgin and what if they find this out and rupture my virginity in the process?”

“Naah”, she continued, “I asked my mom and she said that the bleeding will stop on its own. No need to do the pelvic exam”.

And thus she bid a goodbye and walked away.

I wasn't really sure what to say. Good that she left before I had to say something.

Anyway, you wonderful ladies out there with green veins, just take care, okay?



Goli said...

Even my Granny had that... and I remember asking people why they were green and not red, because blood was red, and I was told that since they are veins, they have impure blood, so they are this color. At that time it had satisfied my curiosity so never thought much about it till now when you posted this.

Shantanu said...

Thank you! Now I know all about varicose veins, pelvin exams and worms, worms, and worms... :)

Tanmay said...

aajkal bahut paka reli hai!!- keede makaude , bimariyan..

creepa said...

I had this question in my mind that though veins appear green but the blood that oozes out of em is red.why? And the anwer i got was >> They appear green because of deoxygenated blood but wen the blood oozes out,it comes in contact with oxygen and the Fe frm heame part takes up oxygen and the oxygenated blood hence is red.

True nahi hai kya?? :O :O

And thnx for the wonderful info!
Takecare! :)

IdeaSmith said...

Sounds terrible. I wouldn't want to further encourage the blind faith bit but just since your friend still has a medical problem, she probably can ask for a non-intrusive rectal exam instead. It might be better than no exam at all.