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Long Term Consequences: Bone Loss

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buried in yesterday’s post was the news that I’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Yup, just when things are starting to look up, I discover a new problem that will take a long time to heal from. The good news is that at my age it is possible to reverse bone loss and rebuild my skeletal structure. The bad news is that it’s going to take a long time to get healthy enough to do the amount of exercise I’ll need to do to get started.

(Quick shout out to my acupuncturist, Teresa Kresse, who knew my bones were weak and pushed me for a few years to get a bone density test. She was right.)

The specifics of my diagnosis are that my lumbar spine is osteoporotic. My hips and femur are osteopenic, which is to say that there is significant bone loss but not as extreme as my spine. The gynecologist was unintentionall funny when she told me that I should not fall down because something might break and that it would be bad. Thanks.

I haven’t had time yet to really delve into what I need to do to rebuild my bones. The short version from what I’ve read so far and what I’ve talked to people about is: find a good rheumatologist and a good sports medicine specialist. Apparently female long distance runners sometimes lose too much weight and become amenorrhic, resulting in serious bone loss. Thus the sports medicine doctor.

I read a tiny bit about the four causes of bone loss: malnutrition, lack of movement (as in bed rest for extended periods of time), steroids, and in women, hormonal imbalances. I’ve got the whole package. It’s a miracle that I’m not any worse off than I am.

Malnutrition: I had diarrhea for a year and a half when I came back from China. I lost a lot of weight and became extremely weak. I can only imagine what that did to my bones. Then when I started being able to eat again, who knows if I was absorbing much because my intestines were inflamed during almost three years of antibiotics. Then there were the colonics which are known for causing mineral loss. I ended up doing 10 or 11 over the course of a few months, then one more a year later. I’m glad I did them because the detoxing got my nervous system working better. But it wasn’t good for my bones. No regrets, just 20/20 hindsight.

Lack of movement: From February 2007 to August 2010, I could barely walk. I tried. I was pretty insistent about not using a wheel chair and trying to be mobile when I could. I used the cane when I could, but I didn’t move much until October 2009, ironically regaining my walking ability after a few colonics. Still, it has been a slow improvement and I don’t yet walk that much. I have so many days when I’m exhausted from the little bit I do that I can’t go for walks outside, or do light housecleaning or some other activity that requires standing and walking. I’m trying to rebuild my stamina; it’s a work in progress. It helps that my blood pressure has normalized because I spend less time light-headed and horizontal. However, it’s close to 5 years since I’ve done any significant regular movement. (Thank goodness I used to walk up 6 flights of stairs to my apartment everyday!)

Steroids: I took a florinef for over a year. One of the long term side effects is osteoporosis. I wasn’t on a high dose and a year isn’t that long compared to many patients. But given all the other bone loss factors I’ve been dealing with, I’m sure this didn’t help.

Hormones: My best guess is that I started having PCOS in January 2002 when my periods started getting debilitating. Maybe it was the beginning of the syndrome. From what I’ve heard, the correlation for hormone influenced bone loss is 6 months without menstruating (or menopause). I never went that long. I did have extremely late periods over and over and maybe skipped a few (when it’s 50+ days, is it late or was it skipped?). I had all sorts of problems with my ovaries (including 2 oversized cysts, one of which ruptured and landed me in the ER to figure out what was causing the excruciating pain). Alone, this was probably not enough to cause the level of bone loss I’ve experienced, but I’m sure it was a contributing factor. The other piece to consider is that my vitamin D levels were extremely low (and stayed low even with supplements until I started taking quite a bit) and that my cholesterol often hovers just below the low end of normal, also contributing to hormonal malfunctions.

To reverse the process, first I’ve got to reverse all these bone loss causes. I’ve already stopped florinef. My menstrual cycle is back on track after two years on metformin. I’m eating better and have less intestinal inflammation between stopping antibiotics and avoiding foods that I have sensitivities to. I’m sure I’ll have to change my diet more, but I’ll need help with that. Then there’s exercise. I can move more now. Maybe enough to slow the bone loss, but certainly not enough to reverse it. I’ll need help with this from a professional. Who knows, maybe I’ll start training for a marathon in 2012.

Coiling

  • Candida, chest, 2 minutes; abdomen, 10 minutes
  • Bartonella, chest, 2 minutes; abdomen, 5 minutes
  • Babesia, back of legs, 3 positions: butt+heels, calves+thighs, back of knees, 1 minute each location; back of ilium, 1 minute each side; 3 sections of spine, 1 minute each; shoulder blades, 1 minute each side; back of head, 1minute; top of head, 1 minute; liver, 10 minutes
  • Babesia, top of feet & ankle, 1 minute; shins together, 1 minute; knees/elbows together, 1 minute; front of thighs together, 1 minute; front of ilium, 1 minute each side; sides of ribs, 1 minute each side; front of shoulders, 1 minute each; sides of head, 1 minute each; chest, 10 minutes
  • Lyme, chest, 3 minutes; side of ribcage + arms, 3 minutes each; front of shoulders, 2 minutes each; shoulder blades, 2 minutes each; sacrum, 2 minutes

Detox

  • skin brushing
  • kombucha
  • diatomaceous earth

Body

I’m suffering from fatigue. By 7pm, I was exhausted and pushing past the tiredness to hang out with my sister and brother-in-law. That’s the most significant of my current body issues. I’ve got lots of the usual aches and pains, mostly in (all) my joints and my lower back. My left shoulder is especially cranky. Light headache on and off during the day.

As a result of being tired all day, I move in slow motion and don’t get done what I’d like to do. But to have less pain and be able to move around is more than I thought I’d experience this soon in the coiling cycle (and before that I was very hopeless). So tomorrow is a good day to give thanks for the improvements I’ve had so far.

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