“We see something on your MRI which may be evidence of osteoporosis. I would like you to go for a Bone Density test,” said my doctor.
Osteoporosis? Was he kidding me? That’s a grandma disease – I am only 35! The doctor must be mistaken.
I went for an MRI because I was having horrible back pain. It turned out that I had two herniated discs, which were causing the pain, but then the doctor added this little bit of information.
I went for the Bone Density test as he suggested. A few days later, he called me into his office to explain that I did, in fact, have osteoporosis.
“Is this something that is going to kill me?” I asked him. I was pretty sure the answer was no, but I wanted to be certain.
“No, it’s not…” he began. He then proceeded to take out charts and graphs to teach me about my new condition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become very weak and brittle to the extent minor strains such as bending or coughing can result in a fracture. Osteoporosis comes about when formation of new bones happens slower than removal of old bones.”
I was still confused. I didn’t know that someone as young as 35 could have this condition. Why did I get it?
It turns out that I had many of the risk factors for Pre-Menopausal Osteoporosis:
- Family History
I was female, both my mother and grandmother had it, I was thin, and I was Caucasian.
Even with these risk factors, it is still uncommon for a 35-year-old to have osteoporosis. At that age, it was more likely for me to have osteopenia. This is when your bones are weaker than normal, but not so far gone that they break easily (the hallmark of osteoporosis.) I was beyond osteopenia.
So now what? Should I start taking the medication that Blythe Danner talks about on TV?
The answer was no. There is no medication for Pre-Menopausal osteoporosis. The only things I could do were:
- Eat calcium rich foods/take a calcium supplement
- Weight bearing exercise
So, I did what I was told. (I admit not all the time, but I tried.)
Before I knew what hit me, I turned 50. When I went for my yearly gynecologist appointment, my doctor told me that “at my age” I needed to change some things. I had to go off the birth control pills that I loved, get a colonoscopy, and have another bone density test. Well, that all sucks.
My bone density did not change much, which meant that I now had post-menopausal osteoporosis. It was time for medicine. My doctor referred me to an endocrinologist who specializes in osteoporosis.
The endocrinologist (who I love by the way) gave me a few different medication options.
- Reclast – given intravenously in the office once a year
- Prolia – given by injection two times a year in the office
- Forteo – given by self-injection every day at home
She preferred I start with either Reclast or Forteo for two years and then move to Prolea after that.
After four rounds of in vitro fertilization 20 years ago, I was no longer squeamish about needles. However, I know me. I did not want the job of remembering to give myself an injection every day.
I chose the Reclast and it was easy. I sat in a comfortable chair and read a book with an IV in my arm for 20 minutes. For a single working mom, it was quite relaxing.
Osteoporosis is relatively easy to live with and manage. My biggest fear is that I will become one of those little hunched over old ladies. My doctor promised that if I keep on top of my condition, this will likely not happen.
While I’m not thrilled that I have had osteoporosis since age 35, it certainly is not the worst thing in the world. I can definitely handle this bump in the road.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband tragically passed away. After a few very difficult years, she started The Widow Wears Pink, a blog about her widow life.
Stacy has been published in Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, Better After 50, Modern Loss, Grown & Flown,, Option B, Kveller, Mamalode, Sammiches & Psychmeds, and Thought Catalog. She is a contributor on Hope for Widows Foundation and freelances for Today.com. She is currently working on both her memoir and a fiction novel.