If you've been reading here since last year you might remember that I spent a significant portion of 2010 limping and on crutches, then eventually having surgery to correct a femoral neck stress fracture in my hip. I recovered from that and began running again in December. In February I was trail running with Tom and Jake, twisted my ankle and ended up with two compound fractures. sigh. So it was back on crutches and in a lovely "boot" for another six weeks.
|nope. absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I *had* to include some spring prettiness, 'cause that's how I roll.|
I already knew that my vitamin D levels were pretty low~ in the low 20s (Vitamin D is critical for proper bone density and many doctors would tell you that somewhere around 90 is much more optimal), so I took matters into my own hands and asked my primary care physician to order a bone density scan for me.
|more random springtime pretties!|
My orthopedic doctor told me that I really shouldn't be out riding my triathlon bike in traffic and zipping down hills at 30mph. Anyone who rides bikes would tell you that a bike accident isn't a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when." He explained that if I wrecked at this point I am pretty much guaranteed another fracture. If I would fracture my hip there is a significant chance that I would need a hip replacement.
Unfortunately hip replacements don't last forever and you can't run with a hip replacement either. sigh.
|so, um, yep. I even think that dandy-lions are pretty this time of year...|
Please understand, I am not a medical professional, just a mom who *really, really* likes to be active with her family and is determined to do my best to figure this out. Plus I'd love to help someone else avoid the problems that I am facing!
Are you at risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia?
Here are the typically listed risk factors for osteoporosis:
- being a woman~ of thin or small body frame
- a family history of osteoporosis
- cigarette smoking
- excessive alcohol consumption
- poor diet
- poor general health
- malabsorption from issues like Celiac Disease
- low estrogen levels~ women who have gone through menopause
- vitamin D deficiency
- long-term use of certain medications like steroids
- living a sedentary lifestyle
Here's the sobering thing: none of those risk factors apply to me... except the vitamin D deficiency. None of them! So here's the deal... the one thing that is left off of "risk factor lists" like the one above is this: women who have had multiple pregnancies and breastfed as well. I have had 15 pregnancies... 12 that went to term (three miscarriages) and breastfed each of our babies for an average of 12 months each.
Basically, if your body doesn't have enough calcium for immediate needs, it will leach what it needs from your bones. That's the sobering truth. For me, 23 years of taking prenatal vitamins pretty much nonstop wasn't enough to keep my bones healthy. Twenty-three years of eating a "whole foods" diet wasn't enough either. Neither was it enough for me to exercise, hard, pretty much every day during that time period.
Now granted, each of us has our own "weak link" and this might be mine and not yours. Please don't think you are immune to weak bones simply because you don't match the risk factors or because you are young and that issue simply isn't "on your radar."
Did you know that once a woman goes through menopause she can count on losing an additional 20-30% of bone density in a span of only three years? Yikes! I'm already ridiculously low and I haven't yet gone through menopause! I keep having mental images of me as an amoeba!
|chives beginning to bloom in my herb garden|
I'm writing this in hopes of helping other women who are just beginning to have children avoid the low bone density issues that I am dealing with. In addition, I want to encourage other "moms of many" to consider having a baseline bone density scan done, even if you haven't had any fractures and haven't yet gone through menopause.
This is getting long, so I'm going to stop here for today. Next up: a plan of action (and it doesn't involve prescription drugs!) There is hope! God is good and He created our bodies with amazing restorative capacity.
Persevering joyfully here,
(and prayerfully trusting God's plan)