Monday, November 20, 2017

Welcome to the middle ages

Fear of falling inTaos NM 2017
 I can thank my parents for having good genes -- I seldom get sick and I stay pretty active. But at 55 and solidly into "middle age," it just seems like I can't take my health for granted. This year I've had a few minor health scares -- some dropped away, but at least one has "stuck."

Over ten years ago I was diagnosed with osteopenia (low bone density). Since then I've had several dexascans, most showing no change, but this last one... well, this last go-round my bone density has dropped quite a bit, to osteoporosis. It may be related to some thyroid/parathyroid issues, and we'll be addressing that in the next month or so. It won't reverse the damage, though.

What does that mean???
I think about my riding, my running, and the ridiculous rocky-treacherous hikes I risked my life on this fall in New Mexico. What's scary is that while everyone encourages exercise to prevent bone loss, once you HAVE bone loss the experts are very cautionary about stressing already-weakened bones. And of course, falling, whether from a horse or on a banana peel, is a very bad idea.

Mitigating risks 

I just have to resolve not to fall down. My beloved Danskos may be shelved in favor of shoes closer to the ground.
Running? From what I have read, the hard-pounding kind of running is not advised (see resources below). I am planning to run, or jog at least, but to intersperse with weightlifting (small weights) and other slow strengthening exercises. 
Riding is a bit touchy. While the exercise itself is fine, the risk of falling is... ugh. I posted to the Chronicle of the Horse, and there are lots of women with osteoporosis out there who ride. They take the risk. They wear Tipperary jackets. They ride safe horses. It's all you can do.

I rode for the first time in a few weeks (vacation, then a bad cold kept me out of the saddle). I was scared, frankly. In a way it is smart, but what a buzzkill. 

On the bright side...
Once the thyroid/parathyroid issues are addressed, there seem to be a lot of drugs to support bone strength. And I have a great endocrinologist -- and that is a rare find indeed!

Hey you young women!
Are you an elite athlete? Small-boned? History of eating disorders? Smoking or ex-smoker? Any combination of these things? These are big risk factors for low bone density.

Get a dexascan. 
Find out where you stand while there is time to address it. 


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