I was referred to the osteoporosis clinic at a local hospital after my diagnosis of, well, osteoporosis earlier this year, which I almost definitely blogged about. (I’m too lazy to locate the post. Maybe there’s a search function for readers? You probably don’t care enough to find it either.) My intake appointment was initially scheduled for August, but I got a call a few weeks ago asking if I’d be available to come in earlier. Yes, please.
As was inevitable, I was overly nervous the night before. I needn’t have been: this turned out to be one of the best medical experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life, and, as you’ve likely gathered, it was far from my first encounter with the “system.”
I got myself to the hospital motivated by both the hope of answers for my medical issue and by the self-bribe of post-appointment frozen yogurt (full of calcium, right??). By the time I had arrived, checked in with the superiorly nice staff, and settled in waiting to see the specialist, I was pretty confident that I was in very good hands.
After going through my history and doing a short physical, the doctor told me that most of the assessment tools available to her to determine fracture risk aren’t particularly useful in my case because they only take into account people much older than I am (I wasn’t sure whether to be proud or ashamed; the possibility of a neutral reaction didn’t occur to me). She thus suggested that we wait until she has the results of tests that she ordered before deciding on a plan of action, especially on whether or not I should take osteoporosis medication, which can have undesirable side effects. In the meantime, she’ll consult with colleagues about similar patients.
Works for me.
Having concluded the meeting with the endocrinologist, I next saw a nurse coordinator, who asked if I had any questions and then went over everything in the sheaf of papers that the doctor had given to me and outlined each next step, making sure that nothing was unclear. It was at this point that I realized that I had absorbed approx. 10% of what had been discussed during the previous 45 minutes–hour with the specialist.
It only occurred to me later that they might have this system in place since the demographic at this particular clinic skews (at least I assume) heavily towards the elderly, who might—not to stereotype or anything—disproportionately benefit from a memory jog when compared to the general population. That said, I bet everyone, not just those of us with trouble retaining important information, would benefit from this way of organizing a clinic visit. Food for thought or whatever.
One of the referrals resulting from Wednesday’s appointment is for an occupational therapist who specializes in fall prevention. “I’m sure that you have an extensive plan in place for your seizure disorder,” the nurse said when discussing the need for the occupational therapist with me, “but it wouldn’t hurt to have something tailored for your bone health.”
Two observations: first, no one has ever thought to help me develop a fall prevention plan related to my epilepsy, or a safety plan at all, even though I fall on a semi-regular basis and have managed to rack up an impressive list of concussions and broken bones; two, my instinct was to smile and nod, giving her the distinct impression that every surface of our apartment is covered in those mats they use in Kindergym classes to protect against minor bruises during little-kid tumbling routines.
I see the occupational therapist today. I’m sure it will be an extremely fruitful hour.
Another of the referrals is for an exercise specialist. Right now, I walk obsessively enough that my husband confiscated my Fitbit over a year ago (#ocdforthewin). I would like to incorporate other exercise into my routine, and I know that some—most?—exercise is good for people with osteoporosis, but ever since I found out that my bone situation is more precarious than the average thirty-year-old’s is, I can’t help but picture a limb spontaneously snapping in two in the middle of a spin class, and who wants that? (Jk, jk: I’m much too lazy for spin class. Pilates, maybe, or Karate. The mental image/irrational fear is the same.) In any case, I’m excited to meet with someone whose job is to get people with less-than-optimal bone health safely enthusiastic about exercise so that they can be their best, healthiest, least-fractured selves. If I’m honest, I plan on being the next-generation Jane Fonda with a fall prevention plan, but don’t tell the exercise person that.
All in all, good developments in osteoporosis land: words that I didn’t think I’d say in relation to myself just a few short months ago.