OSTEOPOROSIS- TikTok or Pickleball?

Submitted on Jul 20, 2023 by  arnoldmom

As I lay here 14 days after my fall at our neighborhood dog park- where I fractured both of my fibulas (leg bone connected to ankle)- yes, I wish I had a better story. Sadly I was not doing a new TikTok dance move or slamming a Pickleball shot! I was standing practically still as it was in a grassy knoll, in a planned community dog park in rural Virginia.

Looking back on my 54 years of life, I have had some of the most AMAZING experiences, so let's begin there.

People often wonder how I can live so well on my SSDI benefits, surprised that I maxed them out so early- well, they assume that I was a high paid RN... boy are they mistaken.

Summers at the Ocean City, New Jersey beach and the boardwalk working from the ripe age of 10 at my cousin's Luncheonette "R- Place" where I was the LEAD singer who also waited on customers at the counter while serving chocolate shakes, beach burgers and fries that then led to work at a plethora of jobs from Amusement Park Operations to Donut Shop Girl to Bay Avenue Chambermaid- I was never unemployed!! Then finding my way to college in Washington DC, only to lose my Nursing Army ROTC scholarship due to endometriosis after a bone chip avulsion fracture in my right foot had already sidelined me during a land navigation expedition.

I redirected my professional nursing education to York College of Pennsylvania, living in nearby Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where I fell in love with everything Pennsylvania Dutch with Friday Flea Marketing with unforgettable friends and turned my life into an unbelievable blessing that would soon take on a life and history lesson of its own.

At the age of 24, newly married to an Airforce soldier from ENGLAND in a small private ceremony- watching our lives blow up before our eyes when he was he was strongly encouraged to take a hardship discharge because of my illness, yet never being deterred. I can look back now and what I see are two young kids in love and in pain, both such incredible forces of nature- eyes closed- not wide open- yet both hearts fully open- that was the golden key...

It's like Adele was my friend and she wrote those lyrics for me to tell Tony and the kids and my friends and my family now-

Go easy on me, baby
I was still a child
Didn't get the chance to
Feel the world around me
Had no time to choose
What I chose to do
So go easy on me
I had good intentions
And the highest hopes
But I know right now
It probably doesn't even show
Go easy on me, baby
I was still a child
I didn't get the chance to
Feel the world around me
I had no time to choose
What I chose to do
So go easy on me

Age 25: Becoming young foster parents - Mary was our first foster daughter- she was 12. What a crazy world- She returned home to her mom.

Age 26: David made me a new adoptive mom. He was six weeks old. I remember the day I first saw him and he took my breath away.

At 30, Michael gave me the joy of experiencing the birth of human life; I can never repay him. And Ashley gave me the power of faith when despite all the odds stacked against her, she beat them and turned out to be absolutely healthy and, to our delight, her adoption was finalized after a two-year delay. We brought her home from the hospital at four days old.

April 18th, 2001, the Federal Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act was passed and signed into law by President Clinton. After six years of a National Campaign for Healthcare Worker Safety, traversing the country and then the world, educating and touring hospitals, conferences, healthcare symposiums, it was all a whirlwind and really heavy stuff for this Philadelphia girl, the oldest of five, born to an English teacher and an HVAC salesman who really just wanted to be a singer all her life!

I had chosen nursing as a secondary career when I didn't believe in myself and my abilities to pursue my musical theatre dreams at Catholic University. My need to change the health care world after my injury all came to a screeching halt like most of our world did with the END of the world as we knew it with the tragedy of 911.

I shut the world out then. I focused on my kids and my family. I tried my best to be a good patient. But the truth is that I never was. It was really really really difficult. Time was not on my side. Genetics had graced me with some type of neurological deficit or weakness that made me susceptible to the ability for HIV to penetrate the blood brain barrier earlier than most. It had also graced me with a greater chance of osteoporosis. HIV and the medications to treat HIV also increased my chances for osteoporosis. I also developed an incredible sensitivity and high probability of allergic reactions to medications, including those that were meant to help, heal and/or save my life.

The truth is I was just focused on living. I didn't have time for things like osteoporosis. When you are given a life-threatening diagnosis at the age of 23, you don't worry about old people's diseases- and osteoporosis falls firmly into that category.

I had broken my right fibula in 2016. I was in a cast for months. Michael was 17. That avulsion fracture in 1989 in ROTC should have been a clue but who was tracking anything? Surely not I. When I had my total hysterectomy due to the endometriosis in 2014, with no hormone replacement, there was no mention of osteoporosis. When fibromyalgia was diagnosed in 2015, my first DEXA Scan was done, which showed the beginning stages of osteoporosis and I was finally started on a prescription medication to help promote bone strength.

I neglected to mention that being a nursing student, one of the worst habits I developed was smoking. My husband's family ALL smoked. Everyone but him. ALL of my friends smoked in college. Every year I swore up and down I would quit. I hated it and I hated myself more for it. It was the devil and it had me by the chokehold. It was killing me. I knew it. I lived on cigarettes, diet coke and chocolate. I was self-conscious about my weight. The cigarettes helped me to control my appetite. I tried every diet I could. Nothing worked. So I stayed smoking until I almost died. I basically forgot about the osteoporosis; that could wait, I figured. Time marched on. I was trying to live.

"Currently, it has been estimated that more than 200 million people are suffering from osteoporosis. According to recent statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation, worldwide, 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 years and 1 in 5 men will experience osteoporotic fractures in their lifetime." from An overview and management of osteoporosis

So, I guess I missed all those CRUCIAL facts as I was singularly focused on leaving my life behind to begin ANEW here in Virginia almost a year ago in 2022.

Change is something I used to fear, but I learned to do the lemonade mixer 30 years ago. I'd consider myself one of the foremost experts in acclimating after my lifechanging needlestick injury that caused my HIV infection and my subsequent AIDS diagnosis in 2007. If we want to relive history, a quick walk through my medical records reads like an Encyclopedia of the World's Worst Medical Diagnoses… including no less than three near death experiences in a short period of time from 2013 - 2016.

I had done this dance before, 17 years earlier. It was June 2007, it was a calm, enjoyable, fun, memorable experience driving across the country from New Jersey to Los Angeles. My children (Michael, Ashley, David) were 6, 9, and 11. We had taken off as a family of five to travel and visit all the great sites Midwest and West. Settling into the Great Western State of California to see how our daughter Ashley would do in the land of TV and film. Ironically, after multiple callbacks and opportunities in NYC with Broadway and national tours and her multiple stints in regional theatre and even off-Broadway, it turned out that Ashley landed an 18 month contract role as a singing, dancing, acting American Girl doll in the stage show at the Los Angeles "American Girl" flagship store in the outdoor mall near Beverly Hills called "The Grove". She was Addie, the Philadelphia doll, who had found her way to Freedom. That role was life changing for ALL of us.

We never returned to the East Coast. Ashley was/is our American Girl, always and forever. Now a college graduate and professional actress, she has never given up on her dream. She has put every ounce of her energy into becoming the best artist she can be and in doing so has traveled and worked with some of the most remarkable people in the industry. Her story and her journey are hers to tell one day. She is my daughter. She may not be from my blood but she was born in my heart and has all of my hopes and dreams and love wrapped inside her. No one can ever deny her. We fight and love with such passion. It can be fierce. It can be so intense. I have that passion with all my children in various degrees of intensity.

She was with me when I fell on July 7th, 2023. It was God's Grace to have her with me to watch over her younger siblings and my dog, Bailey, as I watched more of my independence be stripped away.

You'll learn by reading my blogs as I write them however, that ALL my children (David, Ashley, Michael, Destiny, Airiis, Joseph, and Loni) and my grandchildren (Bentley and Khalaya) have an indelible mark on me that pushes me to be the best person I can be at my lowest points. They have each individually and collectively saved me. Each new day however, I have to learn how to save myself so that I can be the best mother and grandmother. Yes, it's true, I am of course other things, but these two roles are my most important and the ones no one can take from me- no matter how hard they may try or want to on their bad days. My children are all adopted except for Michael. I have always known that they can all leave me. I know that I will never choose to leave them. I chose them. Each of them. They are stuck with me and similarly to my brittle bones, they require care and caution.

I am known to be an exemplary planner. I pride myself on being detail oriented. I research and examine things from multiple angles. I seek meaningful answers and humor and have learned that what is lost in translation is most likely the result of missing human connection or limited acceptance. Acceptance of weakness, frailties, necessity, and abject fear. These, I have found, are the driving factors that segregate us.

It has been 11 months of my highest level of caregiving here in Virginia (note I didn't write "best") and on July 7th, 2023, my world got turned upside down by that catastrophic fall.

I think that it was God literally telling me to SLOW DOWN and STOP. He cut me off at the knees and dropped me to my feet to get my attention. Well, I am listening. I am open. I am ready to receive. I am participating in physical and occupational therapy six days a week. I am in a skilled nursing facility 20 miles from my home. My husband and children have had their lives altered. While I was not working yet, I was actively volunteering and those commitments are in flux, my house is in need of tlc, my schedule upended, activities passed, and summer is cut short.

I love Virginia. I loved California although I was definitely ready to be back on the East Coast. I have suffered tremendous loss but have been blessed so many times over in my life that it's hard not to be grateful. I apologize to all those I have wronged or offended. I wish I had known better.

I sincerely hope that you will join me on this journey to heal, learn, and grow. I can't promise that these topics will be fun, but I can guarantee that the blog will be unique and interesting.

I've added some facts about osteoporosis to help you on your own journey. My most recent DEXA Scan showed that my osteoporosis was severe. That my medication did nothing for me. I did quit smoking in 2016. However I started vaping to get off the cigs. Bad idea- I don't recommend that plan. That was a super duper triple bad plan of mine. So easy to pick back up! Like riding a bike. Please stay away from all of those things.

Osteoporosis is a tough little firecracker of a disease process. It allows one to live life freely, never missing a beat! Staying ahead of those more average and more flashy types of diseases- never a step behind either. Insidiously running and laughing and playing as though there's not a care in the world... until it's too late. You're down and out.

So you know what that means- deep breath- What will it be? PICKLEBALL or TIKTOK??

I'm already learning PICKLEBALL but I really want to do a singing TikTok!!!

Until Next Time.....
Live, Love, Laugh, .....Repeat.

For information on osteoporosis, including risk factors, as well as tips for increasing bone density, see the resources below:

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