Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crumbling Infrastructure

I had a DEXA scan recently to check for bone loss in my spine and hips. The chemotherapy I endured in May 2007 plunged me into menopause and may have been a contributing factor to my newly diagnosed osteoporosis. Yes, my bones, particularly my spine, are deteriorating.

While this news comes as no surprise (I am after all 54), my transplant doctor's recommendation to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on top of a bone-building med gave me pause. I'd thought my running would protect me from bone loss. I had this crazy notion that drinking a cow's-worth of milk every day would fill in the potholes. Maybe I'd be a pile of dust by now if I hadn't been doing any weight-bearing exercise and consuming a fair amount of calcium. What shocked me though was the HRT. Wouldn't that increase my risk of developing cancer? I've been down that bumpy road and couldn't imagine taking a drug that might steer me down it again.

My doctor explained that while there is some evidence that HRT slightly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, the risk of me suffering spinal fractures just by sneezing was greater and more pressing. Did I want to be the Incredible Shrinking Woman, or possibly develop a dowager's hump? Well, no. But I had been looking forward to finally being drug-free after my latest clinic visit, when I eagerly anticipated being cleared to stop the preventative meds I've been on since transplant.

So it's off two drugs, on two more. I chose the lesser of two evils, something I've grown accustomed to doing on this crushing journey. Fix the immediate problem, and deal with the consequences when or if any occur.

In the words of the Rolling Stones, what a drag it is getting old. I have to keep reminding myself that getting old has its benefits, the main one being that you're not dead yet.

Des bones are gonna rise again.


Ronni Gordon said...

Geez PJ. That was some headline. When I saw it, I said to myself, "What's the matter with PJ?" Naturally my first thought had to do with leukemia. What a drag that you have to take those other pills, but still, what a blessing that it's "only" osteoporosis. Of course since we're dopplegangers, I am now wondering if I'm right behind you. We'll see...

Jim said...

Dori is with you, PJ. Menopause, osteoporosis ... come on over if you need some drugs.

Anonymous said...

Sending you a big hug (not too hard:). I am sorry that you are dealing with any of this at all after being through so much. Keep on keepin on!!

Miranda said...

Hi pj. I am of a similar age, and had my transplant last Dec. Also was plunged into menopause, given a lot of steroids (still on low dose of Prednisone.) I was told last month that I too have osteoporosis. They prescribed a drug for me, but I'm trying the calcium/Vitamin D/ exercise route, at least for now, and will re-evaluate in a year..

I would really be cautious about the HRT- maybe get another opinion. Sounds like your very real fears about cancer were dismissed. Docs just love to pull out their trusty prescription pads for everything. Some of it you have to deal with, some you don't. Every drug has its benefits and its costs.

Sorry if I'm butting in, but I wanted to share that. I tend to be holistically oriented and have had to shape-shift over the last 18 months or die. But now that I have some breathing room, I'd like to make more of my own decisions.

Miranda said...

Also, most people don't realize that milk is not the best source of calcium- it overloads the body with proteins, the body becomes more acidic, and leaches calcium out of the bones to correct this. So it can actually be counter-productive!

Other foods such as greens, sardines, nuts are better sources, along with the supplements, which should be taken with Vitamin D and magnesium. I've heard Calcium Citrate is the best form.

Health and Happiness-