I found out today that my bone density is really bad.
Well, to be clear, this is not the first time I have found this out, it’s just that it’s SO much worse now. Tears!!! So many tears. So many feelings: fear, angst, frustration, hopelessness, optimism, denial, inspiration, depression. They seemed to switch from one moment to the next. All ending in a pile of tears.
I am 42 years old. I was diagnosed with osteopenia at age 29. Through a pregnancy and breastfeeding, I still managed to increase my bone density significantly by the age of 36. Then I got cocky. I stopped worrying so much about my drinking, how heavy I was lifting, or even my weight getting too low. I look and feel strong, I eat pretty well. But I guess it wasn’t good enough.
The killer irony here is that the only reason I even did the follow-up DXA scan was because I am planning to teach a workshop soon all about how to “Build Your Bones!” Since I was so convinced that I’d reversed my own situation, I thought I’d put myself out there as the new expert.
Well, I make that sound worse than it is. To be frank, doctors really don’t offer patients much advice besides, “take calcium and lift weights a bit.” Then, when you look online, the only info you get is, indeed, take more calcium. If that doesn’t work, you can always take a bisphosphonate like Sally Shields. I knew immediately, even at the ripe old age of 26, that that was a bunch of crap. So went out on a personal mission to learn how to fix this.
I spent ages studying all the literature and research. I even wrote a manual for the gym I was working at the time, all about coaching clients with osteoporosis. Then, years later, I found myself in a position where I was counseling many, many women who were recently diagnosed with OP. And they, again sadly, were getting that same shitty advice that i was. I offered them options: eat whole foods, don’t restrict or starve, take calcium, but also take magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin K-1, and vitamin D. There are so many factors that are actually under our control, but you have to know where to start.
It got to where I had so many clients with brittle bones, that I decided I had tapped into a very unserved segment of the population. So, I spent 6 months developing a Bone Building Seminar to run online. I was SO proud of myself for all my work. I thought, “Well, it would be a good idea to show people how I have reversed my OP so they know I’m legit.” So I called my doc and got the DXA scan ordered. When I went in, I was sick. I’d been sick with the flu for over a week, and was really laying low. I doubt that matters, but it makes me feel better.
The woman who executed the scan seemed really curt. She asked me, after seeing about half the data come through her monitor, “ when did you start taking calcium?” “I don’t know” I answered. “Were you on it when you came into the last test?” “No, definitely not, I said.” All I got from her was a barely noticeable frown. When I asked my husband what he thought that meant, he said “It’s gotta mean it was way better.” I liked that.
But then just two days later my results were dropped through the mailslot. When I saw the envelope, I got so nervous. I sat down at the kitchen table to read through it as I ate my lunch. My hands were trembling as I opened it. I told myself, “As long as it’s the same as before, I’m good.” I like to keep expectations under control. But it wasn’t the same. It wasn’t the same at all.
Overall, I had lost 11% of my bone mass in just 6 years.
My spine was the worst. My entire lumbar has gotten much worse, but L1 was not just borderline osteoporotic, it is full blown!!
I cried. I cried so hard. I called my husband, barely able to speak, and told him, “It’s so bad, baby, it’s so so bad!” He rushed home to find me still pouring over the results. Texting my doctor. Struggling to think straight. He made me stop. He held me. And I kept crying.