MC, Osteo and Me

Well, the results are in.  I have osteoporosis in my right leg, low bone density in my left and osteo in my spine. This along with the spinal arthritis is just too much.  I am terrified.

My mother had intense osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.  It was sudden and unexpected.  My mother was 79.  I called her  every morning when I arrived at work. The week after September 11, 2001, I rang her and she told me she felt a little achy as she had bagged 11 bags of leaves.  It was completely downhill from there.  As I have mentioned, my mother had an extraordinary tolerance for pain – teeth drilled without Novocaine, childbirth no big deal.  My mother cried and screamed with this.  As I’ve also said, she was advanced for her era in terms of fitness and nutrition.  Some of my earliest memories are of my mother exercising.  Once I started to work in NYC along with her, I no longer joined her for tennis after work.    She was down to aerobics three times a week as she said she vacuumed and gardened.  Foodwise:  Leafy green veg, yogurt or cottage cheese for lunch, fresh fruit everyday, lowfat.

Now my gran was short, plump and very erect so I was hoping against hope that this would pass me by.  I started taking calcium and Vitamin D years ago as a pre-emptive measure.  I walked miles and miles until I couldn’t .  Then I went to the gym regularly till my balance was off.  I modified my diet and do green smoothies most days. Lots and lots of leafy green vegetables. I noticed in the bathroom mirror suddenly that I had a hunch.  And my clothes are fitting my legs differently.  And for certain exercises, my legs seemed out of sync, like one was shorter.

Receiving the spinal arthritis and spine deterioration diagnosis has been devastating and now this! Eventually, I took several deep breaths and did a little research.  Yup, this condition can be the result of the other condition. Lack of exercise and weight bearing can be a factor. Oh, yeah.

Another deep breath and I set up an appointment with my PA (I have all kinds of medical people.  An ever increasing team is necessary). I need this because due to technology I can see my numbers but do not wish to diagnose myself. Yes, she confirmed, I do have osteoporosis and there is medication.  We are rather bombarded with that information – the attractive lady actors extolling the virtues of once or twice a year, oh and yeah, the side effects! Therefore, I realize that there are risks associated with them.  My mother was briefly on Fosomax.  Another funny thing about my mother – she hated taking anything. She took Vitamin E and a multi, something for the dementia, if I recall, and the Fosomax.  You should have heard her complain about how many pills she had to take.  If only, she had seen what I take!  She was taken off Fosomax but I do not know why. The PA said I had choices.  Well, the way my mother felt about pills is the way I feel about needles.  I have a real problem with them.    I don’t like prescription meds.  I prefer another way.  For this, there doesn’t seem to be a non-pharmaceutical option. Well, the Ocrevus is enough infusions for me so those options are out.  Injections are out.  So, what does that leave? The PA doesn’t even hesitate – Fosamax.  I ask her about my numbers and what they mean.  She cannot access them.  This is not confidence making.

A tiny bit more research.  I can rebuild some of the bone. I am in search of an endocrinologist.

In the meantime, I am being gentle with me so that I don’t fall and focus on the positive.

Bone Density Dressing

Clothing is my life.  Shallow, sad but true.  My mother announced when I was 10 or 11 that she could tell that I was going to be a clothes horse when I grew up.   She said this resignedly.  I had no idea what she was talking about and I definitely didn’t like horses.  I have always been my grandmother’s child, so there it is – life defined by what you wear. Grandma could tell you all about the lavender dress she wore when  her father’s will was read.  I can remember what I wore when going far back.  And no, it’s not  because it’s memorialized in pictures.  I remember what I bought, when and usually how much it cost.  One of my first paychecks went to a pair of Bobbie Brooks brushed denim bellbottom blue jeans with camel stitching.  I wore this for my first week of college with  a beige ribbed turtleneck. I wore a plum shantung dress with a full skirt and short jacket when I was 10 to see “The Brothers Grimm” with my aunt in NYC.  Oh, and yes, of course there were short white gloves.  See what I mean?

I dress for the occasion. For my initial appointment at Mt. Sinai I believe I had on a hunting jacket and black skirt.  I definitely wore black leather 2.5 inch heels. When I had my first MRI, I went locally and was told no metal, no bra with hooks.  So, sports bra, sweatshirt and sweatpants.  I hate being seen that way unless I am at the gym.  At Mt. Sinai, it’s not an issue as they want everything off and provide gown and pants.  It’s slightly hilarious as it’s one size larger fits everyone and I can’t wear the spectral leg.  Last month, I had to have the MRI locally again.  It was really hot so I wore an Old Navy  navy blue sundress with turquoise embroidery, no bra.  And nothing showed!  Ahem, I can “protrude”.

I decided after the MRI came back with spinal deterioration,  to get my long delayed bone density scan.  It came with the now familiar no metal  caution.  What to wear?  My plan was my Sudara blue/green pants with a green tank top.  Overnight, it was fall.  No sundresses and bare legs.  Here’s the thing – I  can’t do the sports bra thing anymore.  I am not strong enough.  Tom gets too frustrated helping me get them on and off.  Wow, have we aged! So, a totally discombobulated outfit ensued.  Track pants, a Coldwater Creek sleeveless black top with tiers (to hide the “girls”) and at the last moment a grey knit poncho because it was so cold.  On my feet, the spectral leg and my Jackson Pollack influenced splatter sneakers (Target, $11.99).  It all made me feel horrible, like an old bag lady.

The scan took place in the Women’s Imaging Center so no help from Tom.  Great news!  I didn’t have to remove the spectral leg or the sneakers.  Getting me on and off the table can only be described as fun.

Mission accomplished.  As we stumble out to the main area, the tech comments on my great sneakers.  My take on shoes is not to appear handicapped.  I hate those big galumphous black shoes you are supposed to wear.  The sneakers are something I would have worn in my old, “normal” life.  I can’t say that for all my shoe compromises.  Many times, it feels patronizing when people tell me how they like my shoes. IMG_2055 I know, I know; it’s the effect I strive for.  I am not sure how often people say this to able-bodied people. The tech and another one wish they could wear ones like that.  They are not allowed.  They must wear all black including shoes.  Their feeling is that being able to wear color would help both them and their patients. I agree.  There’s a difference between being professional and being somber. We all need to dress for the occasion.