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Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

The Upside of an Osteoporosis Diagnosis

I sat in the Doctor’s office, hearing words I never thought I would hear until I was a senior citizen.

“You have advanced Osteoporosis”.

In the world of Osteoporosis research, the comparison is done to a typical 18 year old person. The standard is measured, based on where an 18 year old’s bones are, on the T-Score that the DXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorption) scan shows. The test is called a BMD test, meaning Bone Density Mass.

I had a BMD test done about 6 years ago, after a shoulder fracture, and my test showed “slight bone mass loss” at around 0.002%. This new scan showed greater than 20% bone loss, which is a SIGNIFICANT change. My doctor is uncertain why the drastic change occurred and he will be consulting other bone specialists to find some answers for me. Because of multiple hormones I have taken over the years, he will also consult with an Endocrinologist, which sounds terrifying. Essentially, based on the scale, I have the bones of a 70 year woman. And I am ONLY 50.

As I sat, listening to my physician, he informed me that this new loss is highly uncommon, but treatable. He also warned me that the prescribed medication, Risedronate-35 has some fun side effects, such as severe heartburn, nausea and the possibility of a stress fracture to femurs, hips or ankles. LOVELY.

The instructions on the Risedronate-35, is to take ONE pill, one day a week. You always take the medication on the same day, and the same time. You are to take it with a full glass of water, and stay upright for minimum two hours after taking it, in order to avoid the expected heartburn. If you don’t stay upright, you risk burns to your esophagus.

Week one, on Sunday morning, I followed the instructions, and two hours later, I was vomiting. Good times.

I am always the “1 in 50,000 people” who will have the rare side effects. It’s just how I roll.

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Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

But, Here is the Upside

As part of the ongoing medication I am on, I have also been advised to STOP taking Calcium supplements. Apparently, in North America, most people have enough Calcium in their diets. Between the meat we eat, the vegetables we have available, and the accessible Dairy and alternatives we have, we typically eat enough Calcium laced foods.

I was also told that Calcium supplements create deposits in your liver, kidneys and other organs that will cause more harm than good. I had no idea, and most people probably don’t understand these complications when they think of their daily Vitamins and Supplements. There are also higher risks of prostate cancer and kidney diseases, as well as stomach ulcers and other complex issues.

I know that doesn’t seem like an “Upside” but it’s good to know, if you are a supplement junkie.

The REAL upside is that I have been advised to take 2000 mg. of Vitamin D every day.

Friends, this supplement is a GAME CHANGER.

It is called the “Sunshine Vitamin”, and up until now, I never realized the multiple benefits that you receive by this little ball of oil. It is referred to as a pro-hormone, rather than a supplement, and for good reason.

The very first day I swallowed my 2000 mg I was driving to work, singing in my car on y work drive. I never really thought of it, until I arrived at work, and felt…HAPPY. This was not normal for me, typically, as work is not exactly my true happy place. I love my job, but not enough to sing in my car in traffic and morning mayhem on my commute.

I suffer from high anxiety and borderline depression and have taken myself off of my medications over the past few months. Most days are okay, some are amazing, and some days are hell. However, with my “sunshine pills” I feel so much BETTER. I have more energy, I smile more often, and I honestly just feel “pretty darn good” most days.

In researching the benefits of Vitamin D, it all makes sense. It supports a healthy brain, immunity and nervous system! Why haven’t I been taking these little oil filled pills my whole life? I have always focused more on swallowing Multi Vitamins and stacks of pills that help build muscle, rather than be concerned about the bones that support the muscles.

If you suffer from Anxiety and/or Depression, or have mental health worries, I would NEVER advise that you go off of any prescribed medications that help you. However, I would talk to your doctor about taking Vitamin D as a secondary boost. The benefits besides boosting your brain are worth it. They are inexpensive, easy to take, and will, in the long run, help you more than hinder you.

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Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

Osteoporosis

I will not lie and say I am not concerned about the health of my bones. It actually keeps me awake at night, wondering if I will be that “1 in 50,000 patients” who snaps a femur walking down the street.

I will take my medication, and I will begin to build my bone mass up with proper exercise and diet. I will also ensure that I am extra cautious on stairs, and in other environments that have risks of falling or injury.

However, with the diagnosis of advanced Osteo, I am beyond grateful to become educated on Vitamin D and all of the benefits that comes with it. I may be dealing with a health issue with my bones, but the Vitamin D has helped my mental health enough that I can cope with the challenge more easily.

Osteoporosis can be treated. Bones can build mass up again, over time. The trick is to take Vitamin D, so Calcium can be more easily absorbed into the depths of your bones. Without having enough Vitamin D, which is an issue for most places in Canada, Calcium is unable to seep into your bones. Vitamin K also helps Calcium to absorb into your bone structure.

The Upside of my diagnosis, is that I have learned so much about the human skeleton and the importance of healthy bone structure. It has encouraged me to learn about what Vitamins and nutrients we need, especially as we age, to help keep the healthy mass of bone density in our bodies.

The Vitamin D supplements have given me back my “happy” to a degree, and I just feel “better” since I have been taking my daily dose. Further to this, with Flu and Cold season coming up around the corner, Vitamin D has given me an immunity boost that could potentially keep the sicknesses away.

I encourage you, if you don’t take supplements, or are a supplement fanatic, TRY Vitamin D, even for a week. There is no harm in trying them, and the benefits are an absolute game changer.

Writer of relationships / early childhood and mental health . Poetry and fiction dabbler

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