the places I visit on the island paradise where I live

Oct 1, 2013

Old Lady Road Map

Courtesy of Dr. Morales website (definitely not me.)

If you had asked me at twenty whether I would want an Old Lady road map, I probably would have said no. Why worry about tomorrow? That’s how I was in my teens, twenties and even in to my thirties. Even at 58, I talk myself in to believing I am still young. I ignore the crow’s feet and laugh lines around my mouth. I look in the mirror at times and wonder who that person is that stares back at me, but I convince myself that I don’t look all that much different.

I try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and seafood. I limit red meat and pray I get enough fiber. I lost thirty pounds two years ago and religiously keep track of my carbs, protein and fat. I get my blood work done to know my cholesterol and triglycerides readings. I am checked for sugar and blood pressure and it all looks really good. I feel for my age, I am a healthy person. But once again since I have no Old Lady road map, a health issue has come along that surprised me.

Having sore legs the last few years really didn’t come as a shock. I work on my feet, run around all the time and almost never sit still except while doing computer work. Even then, I get up a lot and try to stretch. I go to the gym and attempt to work on cardio. I do like to walk. Then last month due to some canceled flights, I ended up on seven flights in five days. When I got home, my legs felt heavy and weird, swollen. Everybody told me to keep my feet up and drink more water. But I do drink water, probably at least three liters a day. I don’t drink anything else. No soda, juice or alcohol. But it didn’t seem to help.

Finally after a month of this, I went to Dr. Cruz and he ran all the blood work to make sure it wasn’t something serious. It wasn’t my kidneys, liver, sugar or blood pressure. All normal. He checked the pulse in my foot and said it felt weak. So he suggested I go to a vein specialist to see if I had a blockage from all that travel. He was concerned for thrombosis or a clot.

My appointment was yesterday. The doctor, Dr. Morales Bravo, in Cancun, a vein and vascular surgeon, looked at my veins with a type of ultrasound and showed me the problem. I have hidden varicose veins. Can you imagine my surprise? I know I had ugly spider veins, but I don’t have varicose veins, I screamed. You are confusing me with my grandmother, who had the gnarly, ugly beasts sprouting from her calves. He told me that he needs to do six to eight treatments of sclerotherapy.

It was quite disturbing when I read about it that the doctor actually kills off the vein that is varicose, and he reroutes the blood to another vein. Who knew that we have 400% of the veins we need in our bodies? Again something that would be helpful to explain in the Old Lady road map.
More info on this procedure can be found here from the Mayo Clinic.

The good news is I had no blockage or clots. I spent last night going back and forth if I should do the procedures. Since I have symptoms, it seems I really have no choice. By the way, it was not due to any lifestyle choices, but purely genetic. Varicose veins run in families. 

After reading both Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic’s websites, they both recommend the procedure I am getting for my problem. I also got a personal referral from a neighbor, who has been going to Dr. Morales for four years. She could not have recommended him more highly.

So my post is two-fold. One is introduce the idea of the Old Lady road map, that I think a lot of us could use and would be happy to buy. Now somebody just needs to write it. The second reason is to alert other women my age about this problem. Since I saw no veins popping out of my skin, I assumed I was fine. Varicose veins start long before, hidden away undetected to the normal person. It turns out one in five women over 50 will have some type of problem with their veins. Since we have all become so much more attuned to tracking our blood pressure and diet to arterial hypertension, it is probably a good thing to also know about this type of hypertension. If you have spider veins, there is a good possibility you could have varicose veins hidden away, espcially if you have a family history of varicose veins. My suggestion is to get the ultrasound in Cancun, especially if you have any swelling or heaviness in the legs, as I did. The visit costs $600 pesos. You can find out more information on Dr. Morale’s website, here.