Wah-Oh Varicose

Chrissy Howe essays

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As the heat of July gathers momentum and melts into the haze of August, I am forced to reckon with them. Like a showdown in a dusty western film from the days of ole, “This here town ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

My shorts sit neatly folded at the bottom of a crumpled up pile of laundry. There is only one pair in my wardrobe, with the full stretch maternity panel. As each pregnancy my body endures progresses by trimester, I can count on my bulging, unsightly veins to make themselves more pronounced than before.

With my confidence fraying as I move my hands, I dig through that crumpled pile of clothes, all the way to the bottom where my shorts sit in anticipation. I move quickly so as not to give myself time to think and I slip out of my pajamas and slide the shorts all the way up past my belly button.

They are so wonderfully comfortable and cool that for a moment, I forget about my very vain humiliation.

“Uh oh Chrissy, I see you have a vein problem in your legs. You are too young for that. Get those stockings they sell, the compression ones for ladies.” The words my dad spoke to me nearly two weeks ago stick in my side like a thorn; it’s slightly painful to hear my own thoughts repeated outside of my head, and embarrassing to know that people are seeing exactly what I thought they were seeing.

I have not been able to put these shorts on since.

The cotton feels washed, worn-in and soft, even if the length reveals all the bumps on the backs of my legs, I decide that the heat will win today and I will wear the shorts.

The discomfort of the veins is never gone. From the numbness and tingling sensation that they ever-so-casually and subtly spread through my legs, to the stress I feel in trying to hide my body under additional and unseasonably hot yards of fabric.

Time spent at beaches and parks with my children is often wasted on my paranoid delusions that everyone is staring at my “vein problem”. Thanks to my fathers’ great tact, I know just how noticeable they are, despite my husbands’ futile attempts to quell my nerves and tell me that he doesn’t even see them. I appreciate his love-blindness, but I have yet to acquire my own rose colored glasses.

It is not with the grace of strength, but by the grace of distraction that I am able to wear the shorts today. I live the busy life of a parent, with pick-ups and drop-offs and small children on a very demanding go-gurt schedule. There are beaches to storm and parks to grow sweaty in. There are grocery trips for more go-gurt and a home left sitting in a dirty, sandy, summertime disarray. There are greater problems, and more things to do than there are hours in a day. It is with all of that, that I am able to try.

Try to give myself one gift, and forget just how much I despise these legs that I need so very much.

“They are just veins and legs” I’ll say to myself, and hope that I can make the leap to getting over the problem that only bothers me.


About the Author

Chrissy Howe

I fancy myself to be a stay at home mother with the ambition to help other mothers relate to a less-than-perfect life. You will find more of me at where I tell my tales from the front lines of motherhood.

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