I’ve been quite arrogant about my good health. In fact, I rarely go to the doctor because I rarely am sick. It would have to be something acute and severe—and even then I put it off, as I did when I had appendicitis and ended up in the emergency room at 2AM with an angry appendix about to explode. I didn’t have a pap smear for 3 years, nor my mammogram (shame), and when I went, she said I was overdue for a bone density. “No problemo,” I said haughtily, “But it’ll be a waste of time since my bones are STRONG.”
The bone density Tech said, “You waited five years between scans,” I answered, “Well, they said my bones were a lot younger than I am, so I didn’t see the need.” She smiled a bit. I said, “Yeah, that’s the problem with uber healthy people, they’re usually the ones blindsided by something.” That smile again.
My mammogram and pap came back “healthy,” but what I was excited to hear about was my bone density, because last time, those five years ago, I had an A+++ bone scan. Since I’ve been running for the last ten months, and have just started back with weight training over the last month, I wondered if my bones were even better! Yeah!
So imagine my surprise when the doc left a message on my phone that while everything looked good overall, there was an area around my hip and femur that had a little Osteopenia, but since it was so slight, I didn’t need to do anything except keep up what I was doing with my exercise and to make sure I was taking the recommended calcium and Vitamin D . . . blah blah blah she said some more but I was not listening because I was . . . I was, um, blindsided.
Huh? What? Me? But . . . but . . . dammit! I was pissed off. I wondered: what did I do or not do to cause some bone loss, even if it was very small, compared to five years ago. When did it happen? How? And if I hadn’t taken up running and weights again, would it be worse? And and and, pissy pissy pissy went my thoughts. Folks, I fully expected another A+++ and when I didn’t get it, I was mad.
But this taught me something—that I can believe I am invincible, that I am Super Woman, that I am strong and healthy and full of vitality and life and energy and that will always be the case never-ending, that I can run and do weights and yoga, and I can feel the health zipping through my body, but . . . without machines and the like looking into the deeper parts of me, I don’t really know what’s going on inside. I was blindsided, just as I’d quipped to the technician.
Granted, my osteopenia may never progress into anything more, but it still brought me up short. It made me feel vulnerable. The next day when I ran, I kept thinking there was a weak spot in me and I hated that weak spot—never mind I didn’t even know it was there until I was told.
What I’m taking from this is to stop my lackadaisical attitude towards testing and screening that my doctors suggest. They don’t suggest it lightly to me, since they rarely see me, and know how healthy I am. But they also know what can lurk when we least expect it.
Our bodies are wondrous things. I consider myself a person who takes care of herself, but sometimes our bodies betray us with the unknown, and sometimes there are factors we didn’t take into consideration that may affect our health—not eating enough, eating too much, stress, not enough exercise, too much exercise, not taking our vitamins or eating the foods that supply them, etc etc etc. Pick one that fits.
If you are able, then I urge you to have regular screenings that your trusted doctor recommends.
My goal now is to go back in that bone scan room in two years and have my doc say that nothing has progressed, and if at all possible, that I made it better.
Now—call your doctors (or quit ignoring their calls as I did). Suck it up. Bite the bullet. Don’t be blindsided. And if there is something lurking around, catch it before it progresses and do what you can to fix it.