The Osteo-Pathfinder

It’s funny how something can happen in your life that completely changes your direction.  I’m a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason.  My  journey has led me down a new, more challenging and less certain route but it’s made me more determined to achieve things that I’ve always dreamed of.

When I started this blog, I did so because I wanted to share my travel stories.  I couldn’t have ever imagined I would be sat here only a few months on writing this post because I’m about to blog about something that I’d never even properly heard of until a few months ago.  I decided to write this blog post because, after hours of searching the internet, there’s not a lot of support or information for people my age in the same situation as me.

Several weeks ago I had a DEXA scan which confirmed that I’ve got osteoporosis with signs of the disease showing in both hips.

But I’m only 27. 

Osteoporosis is something that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men will suffer from in their lives but usually this doesn’t develop until people are much older.  Being the only person in the waiting room at the hospital who was under the age of 60 should have been a hint that not many people my age are given this diagnosis.

A couple of months ago I injured my foot; you may have seen the odd shoes I’ve been wearing in some of my recent Instagram posts which is because the hospital gave me a boot to help support my foot whilst it heals.  It was the x-ray I had on my foot which showed signs of my bone density being low and led to the DEXA scan referral, osteoporosis diagnosis, and subsequent further tests.

So what does this mean for me?

In a nutshell, osteoporosis is a condition of fragile bone with an increased susceptibility to fracture.  Osteoporosis weakens bone and increases risk of bones breaking. Bone mass (bone density) decreases after 35 years of age, and bone loss occurs more rapidly in women after menopause. 

But I’m only 27 and I’m pre-menopause

In addition to causing permanent pain, osteoporosis causes some patients to lose height and develop a stooped or hunched posture as the bones in the spine break.  Osteoporosis may limit mobility and many patients require long-term nursing home care.

I have no family history of osteoporosis and I’ve always had a healthy, balanced diet rich in calcium (cheese is my favourite food!!!) and I’ve always been in good shape and used the gym.  I’ve had issues with acid reflux which can interfere with how you absorb and process calcium but as I’m writing this I’ve just received my blood test results which have confirmed my vitamin and mineral levels are satisfactory.  So I guess it’s a waiting game for now until I see the specialist in a few weeks.

It made sense to me to write this post to try to raise awareness of bone health and to ensure young people, especially young women, are looking after their bones from an early age.

90% of your bone mass is achieved by the time you’re 18.

Yet after numerous hospital visits I’ve only ever seen posters and signs directed at people aged 50 and above.  This disease is more regularly being seen in younger people and it’s important to me to share my story so that any other young people who are given the diagnosis know that they aren’t alone and that there are things you can do to prevent the disease becoming worse.

My plan is to continue blogging about travels (I’m going to Slovenia in 6 days, yippee!!) but I will also be writing more about my diagnosis and any injuries and treatments I experience.  My risk of fracture is still low although its twice that of the average person my age.

My goal now is to try to make lifestyle changes so that my situation doesn’t worsen.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a glass of red wine or a gin and tonic at the weekend but that’s going to have to stop.  Excessive drinking is bad for your bones so I’ve made the difficult decision to completely give up alcohol from January 1st 2018.

I’ve also had to change-up the food I eat to get even more calcium and vitamin D rich foods in my diet.  This means eating even more cheese than I used to which is absolutely fine with me!  I’ve been given a sample meal plan and a leaflet from the hospital which details the amount of calcium and vitamin D in lots of different foods which has helped me to plan other meals.

Although the news has been shocking and upsetting for me, I’m one of the lucky ones.  Lots of younger people may have signs of this disease but won’t know until they’re much older than me.  I can try to tackle this disease now, and whilst it’s not curable, it is treatable and can be managed.

I’m now more determined to do things in my life that I might not be able to do when I’m older because I don’t know what my bones will be like in the future.

When life gives you lemons and all that.

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