Like many others, I have always associated osteoporosis with elderly people, especially females. This mindset, I believe I had, was due to my grandmother, who was thin, small framed, and had weak and fragile bones, the same body type I grew up to inherit. The only difference is that I am petite in size, where as my grandma was tall. I had been experiencing signs of osteoporosis from a very early age, whereas most females are diagnosed with osteoporosis after menopause.
Start of early symptoms
I was a tomboy. I loved climbing trees, playing basketball and baseball with the neighborhood boys, and even digging for worms. I thought that was the cause for all my mishaps, but I wasn’t sure. I had broken my left arm twice, my right arm once, and also, had broken my collarbone before the age of 16. My pediatrician at the time was not concerned. In fact, he had attributed my breaking bones with playing too rough — even though I played just the same as everyone else. Why was I prone to broken bones? In my high school years, I had tamed down quite a bit. I didn’t engage in any sports because of my past rendezvous. I worked as a nursing assistant in a long-term care facility. I was constantly lifting patients. At this time, I started experiencing low back pain. I thought this was normal and job related. I got relief from over-the-counter pain medication. After high school, I went on to college to obtain a degree in nursing. I got my first job in a long-term care facility. I continued to lift patients, although my back pain was getting worse. I continued my OTC medication and started applying a moist heating pad. My discomfort was relieved to some point.
More symptoms, density scan and diagnosis
At this time, I was in my mid to late 20s. My back pain hadn’t gotten any better, and I now notice that I am not standing straight up. My posture is poor. I am standing with a slight tilt, and I am not walking very steady at all. This one particular week, our medical director of the facility had scheduled bone density scans on his patients. He had agreed to perform the procedure on me when he was through with his patients. This was a simple procedure. While sitting in a chair, I just had to remove my shoe and sock, and I placed my right heel in this machine. I didn’t feel anything. It was over in a matter of seconds. Too short of a time for the diagnosis I had received. The doctor had told me that my bone density scan was worse than 80 percent of the patients in the nursing home. I was in disbelief. The doctor said he has never treated anyone as young as me for osteoporosis and that he wanted to see me the following week so that we could work on a long-term plan.
First treatment started with prescription calcium pills, equaling 1500 milligrams a day. The next prescription was for a narcotic to relieve the pain. Thirdly, was a change in my diet to include more calcium. Lastly, was a discussion about avoiding alcohol because of the bodies inability to absorb calcium and a discussion about wearing low-heeled shoes with a good traction, due to the unsteadiness on my feet and to ease the stress off my lower spine. I could also continue any OTC regimen that helped reduce my pain.
I am now in my early 40s and have become accustomed, somewhat, to the lifestyle I have had to change and adapt to over the years. I can no longer participate in some of my favorite outdoor activities. My experience with osteoporosis has been a learning adventure for me. I know my body and what I can and cannot do. get more relief sleeping in a recliner. If I do sleep in bed, I have two pillows so that I am not lying flat. I no longer wear heels as much, but when I do, I pay for it later. I still find some relief with a moist heat pad. I have continued my narcotic medication, but I have cut myself back drastically. I do not smoke, nor do I drink alcohol. I am majorly stiff in the morning and it takes me at least two hours to loosen up. I am now experiencing pain in my left hip. Although I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis from an early age, I stay as active as I can and I do not give up. Osteoporosis is a disease, and what I have experienced has been ongoing. My advice is to live life, don’t give up and stay active as much as possible.