1 Nov 2017
Twenty months ago, I turned on my phone to find a panicked-sounding voice mail from my gynecologist. On a Friday afternoon no less. She had just received the results of my latest bone density scan and sounded extremely concerned. On the voicemail, she levied what sounded to me like a pretty dire warning: advising me not to twist, bend, lift or pretty much do anything, asserting that I was at a high and likely risk for a spinal fracture. (Please note that a prior bone density scan had already alerted me to the bone health issue. This new scan indicated a further deterioration or worsening of my osteoporosis diagnosis.)
To an outside observer, I might not have seen overly distressed by the call. I’ve been with my gyn for over two decades. She’s a smart lovely woman. Overly cautious (not a bad thing) and even somewhat maternal. But her message bordered on the unprofessional. While I am certainly not cavalier about my health, I also knew that osteoporosis is not her specialty. And we had tap-danced around this issue before. I had my own personal take on things. Within the prior several months of the report, I had been very physically active, doing the types of things she warned me about not doing. I had even tripped and fallen off a curb (don’t blame balance, I was just not paying attention), slipped and fell on wet pavement, and had a few other mishaps as well. All with no injury. So while I was not in denial as to the seriousness of the situation, I continued to twist and turn.
But, obviously, I also understood some intervention might be needed. I had thought that I’d been jumping my way to bone health on my trusty low-to-the-ground trampoline, lifting weights, eating well for bone health, and keeping in general good shape. So I willingly met with the rheumatologist that my gyn referred me to: a man, in his 60s, with a solid reputation in my suburban community. I didn’t care for how the consultation was handled. I would describe him as “old school.” You know, that doctor who has already decided on the “right” course without spending the time with me to help me come to the same conclusion or at leas to make my own informed decision. My husband had accompanied me to the appointment and agreed that he wasn’t the specialist I should be working with.
Thankfully, I am incredibly fortunate to live in the New York area where there is some of the best medical care in the country. I’m doubly fortunate to have good health insurance: not something I take for granted, especially these days. So I decided to reach out to a rheumatologist at HSS (Hospital for Special Surgery) in Manhattan. I identified a doctor I wanted to consult with. Her waiting time for an appointment was four months. That was some validation for my belief that (1) she was highly sought after and (2) there are a lot of women in my position.
I waited for my first appointment, anxious to get more clarity on the situation and, perhaps, find a physician with whom I could place my trust. And I’m sharing with you because not everyone has access to the best medical care and I’d like you to have the benefit of my learnings. Please keep in mind that this is my story and I am not in any way suggesting you follow my own course. But the one thing I do know is that we all have the right to the best information out there.
END OF PART 1
Stay tuned for the next part… my first appointment. I’m also considering sharing my story on a series of facebook live videos. Please let me know if you’d be interested in watching.