True Story: What I wish I had known about my bones when I was younger

It all started when I tripped and fell while I was at work.

I couldn’t get back up. While I didn’t feel any pain, my left leg was lying off to the side and I had no control over it.

So I went to Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC), where I was able to see Orthopedic Surgeon James MacDonald, MD, with AAMC Orthopedics. It felt like an answer to my prayers. It turns out my leg had broken in one place and bone had started to disintegrate in another place. Dr. MacDonald put a rod in my leg and I was able to go home the next day and start physical therapy.

Several months later, I went to see Christina Morganti, MD, to begin treatment for osteoporosis, a disease I never knew I had until my fall.

Osteoporosis is a disease that happens when your body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. This leads to weaker bones that can easily break when you fall.

If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self several things so that I could prevent osteoporosis in my future. Here are a few pieces of advice:

Pay attention to your body. I don’t know if I’d even heard the word osteoporosis when I was younger. It never, ever crossed my mind. But I had broken many bones over the years, including my leg, my pinky finger and my wrist. I’d also broken my ankle three times. Bones break, but you go on. It wasn’t something I ever thought about. I believe my doctor did ask me if I wanted to see a nutritionist, and I probably told him no. Looking back, I should have paid more attention to those breaks.

Be more intentional about exercising. Don’t become so sedentary. When I started seeing Dr. Morganti, she encouraged me to start exercising. I joined a local gym and my daughter-in-law gave me a FitBit, which is a good reminder to get up and move!  My goal is 10,000 steps per day, and if it’s near the end of the day and I’m a few hundred steps away from my goal, I just get up and walk around my living room. Walking is one of the best things you can do. Taking care of your body is no different than taking care of your teeth or taking care of your skin. I also recommend having a workout buddy who will hold you accountable.  

Put down the technology. This one is actually for today’s kids. I think we were far more active by nature when I was younger. We walked to school and played outside, and we never really thought of it as exercise. We went bowling. We went dancing. Now, everyone just goes out to eat and they’re on their phones all the time. My advice is to put down the electronics and become more active before it is too late.

I’ve lost about 30 pounds since my fall. I still walk with a limp and I wear lifts in my shoes. I have no desire to go back in for surgery! Dr. Morganti continues to treat me for my osteoporosis. I receive an injection of Prolia every six months and bone scans every two years.

I also take vitamin D tablets twice a day to support bone health, though I feel best when I can get out in the sun. My levels of calcium—also necessary for bone health – seem to be fine. I’m also going to start lifting weights three times a week to help strengthen my bones.

It can be hard when you are young to think about the future but I highly encourage you to do so, especially when it comes to your bones.