Friday, May 31, 2019

Normal is Abnormal

Or so the gerontologist said yesterday, while showing me my DEXA Scan results.  She gave me a sandwich - good news on the outside, the bad news smooshed in the middle.  There were 6 pages of information, but she said the last 5 were less important than the top sheet, the one with the Densitometry Results.

My spine is Normal.  That's abnormal for a person of my age, sex, complexion, eye color, and heritage.  I should be in the Osteopenia range.  I'm not.  In fact, my spine is in 7.9% better shape than it was two years ago when I last had a scan.  That was the good news, surprising to my doctor and comforting to me.  My right side seems just fine, too.

The filling of the sandwich was filled with less wonderful news.  Apparently, my left femur neck is Osteoporotic. 

It's such an ugly word.  It sat on my heart.  My eyes began blinking back tears I didn't know were hiding, up close and ready to drop.  As the physician described why she wouldn't prescribe medication at this time - You're relatively young, and the medication can only be taken for 7-10 years- my shoulders began to drop from my ears. 

I am taking the requisite dose of Vitamin D - 2000 IU/day - already, even though I live in the sunniest part of the country.  Apparently, we don't metabolize our vitamins well as we age.  The D is available at Costco for a nominal price, the pill is small and yellow, it has no side effects.  Continue with that, she said.

Exercise daily was her next prescription.  She loves Pilates - It's balance as well as strengthening - and liked my weight lifting program, too.  She said any exercise except swimming counts as weight bearing, which is what my bones need.  30 minutes a day, every day was her advice.  Yes, walking counts - walking around the garden, walking as I clean out the garage, walking up and down my street early enough in the morning to avoid dying of heat stroke. 

Everybody wants me to move.  I suppose I ought to listen. 

Finally, she came to diet.  Are you taking calcium supplements? No? GOOD! 1200 mg of calcium per day, from foodstuffs not pharmaceuticals, is what I need.  Cheese is good.... who doesn't like cheese?
Since bread, cheese, and Prosecco are my Lost on a Desert Island foods, I was able to smile and agree that this was a good plan.

The other side of the sandwich was that this is something I can stop in its tracks if I follow her advice. Can it be reversed?  If you can reverse it, I'll write you up as a Case Note.  We agreed that that was my goal.  I left with a smile on my face, no new prescriptions to fill, and a diet to reexamine.

At home, I Googled Calcium Foods.  I'm going to have to eat a wheel of hard cheese every few days in order to meet my 1200 mg goal.  I'll have to buy milk (4 glasses a day will cover me) and drink it.  Yogurt, broccoli rabe, ice cream.... they are all 200 mg per gigantic serving.  Even I can't eat 6 yogurts a day. 

Then, again, I do have an abnormally normal spine.  I think I'll concentrate on being grateful for that right now.


  1. I'm still in osteopenia, but edging ever closer to the osteoporosis side of things. I guess I'll try the Vitamin D pills from Costco. Eating that much cheese is not good for one's heart, neither is a ton of calcium for that matter. If it's not one thing, it's another. Good thing we like broccoli.

  2. I take calcium and vitamin D. My doctor says to walk 30 minutes a day, but some days it just doesn't work. Today is one of those days. I sat for over 3 hours in the car getting back from the bay area where we took care of our grandkids for 3 days. They provided good exercise for those days.

  3. If you're OK with eating sardines or canned salmon, both are good sources of calcium, and fortified soy milk has as much calcium as cow's milk

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