Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mom's lectures about bones are saving me right now...

Last week I learned that all my mom's lectures about bones and health helped me even though she might not have followed her own good advice.  I had a quick and easy bone density test at work and learned that at age 50, I have the bone density of a 24 year old woman - that's someone half my age.  It was such a huge relief!

The test was so easy; it took only 1 minute and was completed by a machine the size of a large back pack.  The machine had a groove down the center where I put my foot.  The machine used sound waves to judge the thickness of my heel bone; it was pain free.  The nurse told me that heel bones are very similar to the large bones in our hips so testing it was a good indicator of the density of the large bones that support our frame - our hips.

I am in a high risk group for osteoporosis - or so I've been told...So for more than a decade, I've taken Calcium with vitamin D each morning and Calcium/Magesium/Zinc each night after I brush my teeth.  I also eat a lot of yogurt and cheese.   Years ago a doctor told me that due to small bones, white hair at an early age and  half Scandinavian heritage - I had a higher risk of osteoporosis.  I don't know if research continues to support those risk factors or not but, once my Mom heard that she began to nag me about calcium, Vitamin D and eating enough healthy food.  "Take care of the inside first. Don't worry about the outside; it won't look good of the inside's not healthy."  She's so right.

I must also give credit to my gynecologist who realized that my hormones where out of whack and started me on low dose estrogen at 46, two years before a full hysterectomy.  Though I've fretted about my weight over the past 3 years and been lazy about working out for the last decade, I wonder if my 30 extra pounds has actually helped me.  Has the weight meant that my frame - my skeleton, my bones - had to be stronger to hold it up?  I don't know but I don't think it hurt me.

Going forward though, I must be SURE I'm healthy from the inside out so I'll take my mom's advice and also do something she didn't. Mom had a large yard and garden that she tended all year long.  I hope to do the same after I purchase a house in a month or so.  In the mean time and even after I get the  house,  I MUST be deliberate about exercise. I must life weights to strengthen and do yoga / stretching to maintain my flexibility and balance.  I believe it's those things - along with a good diet - that will ensure I avoid osteoporosis and the pain that goes with it.

How do i prevent osteoporosis?  Easy bone density test, how do they test bone density? prevention of osteoporosis, prevention of weak bones, risk factors for osteporosis

Tough little momma is hanging in spite of broken femur

I just re-read my post from March 2010 when I was reasonably certain my Mom would quickly fail and pass away after suffering a broken sacrum.  Well, it's 1 1/2 years and she's still with us.  Her latest ailment is a broken femur; suffered when she slipped from her wheel chair as she tried to reach a newspaper that fell to the floor.

Though she seems smaller and weaker each time I see her, her spirit is still strong and her mind is still curious.  She  reads every syllable in the news paper every day;  she wants to watch educational PBS programs on the outdoors, animals and science.  She wakes up to have hope for something positive every day.  That's how I want to approach life.  I wish I'd realized it sooner, the first 50 years would have been much more fun and less stressful.

So - what to do about the broken femur. The goal is to keep her pain free; it's unlikely the bone will heal well enough for her to put more weight on it.  The break is along a diagonal line about 2 inches above her left knee and at 92, there is little that doctors can do for Mom. They can't put her under for surgery since the amount of anesthesia would likely kill her.  If they tried to perform surgery they'd attempt to screw the broken piece of bone to the larger piece above but her doctor is worried that any screws would simply shatter either piece of bone making for an even worse break and more pain.  SO -the plan is to keep it immobile for 8 weeks hoping that it will knit together enough to keep the broken piece in place and avoid pain.  Mom can never put weight on the leg again.   If it doesn't work, I asked the doctor if it could be glued into place.  I'm hoping it might be done with a local anesthetic.  My aunt had part of her spine glued when she chipped a vertebra, my cousin had a knee cap glued.. so, I'm hoping....  He didn't say "no" but he didn't say it's possible either...  All I can do is hope and pray for my little momma...

What caused the broken femur?  There are 2 obvious causes - osteoporosis and mom falling from the wheel chair.   The osteoporosis is a natural occurance of aging and the fall from the wheel chair is inevitable - but BOTH could have been minimized.  If Mom had remained more active, taken calcium and vitamin D and low dose estrogen her bones might be in better shape.  If the nursing home aides had helped mom to her recliner instead of leaving her in the wheel chair, she'd never have slipped out of it.   Again, it's another thing about to complain to the state but it's unlikely to change.  There are just too few aides to take care of too many patients.

Read my next post on how to prevention of osteoporosis...
How can i prevent osteoporosis?  How did mom break her femur How did dad break his femur  broken femur in elderly