Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bad to The Bone

Last spring I had a bone density test done. It showed that I had osteopenia which may or may not be the beginnings of osteoporosis. The nurse wanted me to come in and talk to the doctor because there was no need to be concerned, "There are drugs for that." I told her, "I don't do drugs, so let me do some research and I'll get back to you if I want to come in." I did my research and decided that I didn't need drugs and I didn't need to go back in.

Yesterday I had my annual physical with my internist. The first thing she said was, "You have osteoporosis and you never came in." I told her that the nurse told me it was osteopenia, and she said that there are a lot of different numbers to look at and some of mine are in the osteopenia range and some are in the osteoporosis range.

I know osteoporosis is a serious disease, so I was all ears. She explained that being a tall, thin, blond of Scandinavian descent put me at increased risk for the disease. She wanted to start me on Actonel immediately. I explained to her that I am really more of a natural health person and I'm not a big fan of medications. She explained that no matter what I do it is only going to get worse, that it will lead to fractures and I will end up hunched over in 20 years...guaranteed.

I told her that the side affects of drugs frightened me. Her response was that I should be frightened of the disease and not of the drugs. She rattled off all kinds of statistics about how great the drug is and mentioned a couple of people that had a serious problem with it and why they did. Millions of people take it and don't have any problems.

I left my last MD for having that kind of attitude and up until today I have really, really like this new doctor. I don't care if a doctor THINKS they are right, or even it they KNOW they are right. I expect them to listen to every word I have to say and never ever to brush me off. They can tell me why it is that they feel the way they do, but then they need to listen to me when I do the same. I plan to stick with her for now, but I did NOT like her attitude when discussing the medication.

I had my check up and she gave me my sample Actonel to take on February 1st. If I was "comfortable" with it she would give me a prescription for the once a month pill. My heart just sank. I take such pride in my good health. I figured I had great bones and I don't.

The drug thing is a very serious issue for me. I don't just pop a pill because a doctor says I should. I don't get tetanus boosters, or flu shots or take OTC drugs. I just feel sometimes it's okay to get sick and to let our bodies figure it out for themselves rather than pouring in chemicals our bodies don't want or need.

When it comes to prescription drugs....most of them scare the hell out of me. There are even ones out there now that can give you cancer. So, when I got home I went online. Now I didn't just go to the sites where all you find is the bad about the drug, I also went to WebMD and to the Mayo Clinic site. I spent forever online and I did find one site filled with comments from people that have taken Actonel with very, very serious consequences. Even the Mayo site talks about the side affects and the seriousness of them. I had Irv read some of it, and he couldn't believe it. Here is the comment site if you are interested in what has happened to some people taking Actonel.

Next I started researching natural ways to help my bones. I read about vitamins and minerals as well as some kind of "out there" suggestions. Today I will research some more.

My bones are not going to start breaking today and I won't be walking hunched over tomorrow. I do realize that if I don't do something, those things very well could happen years from now. My thought at this moment is that I will write down all of the natural suggestions I have found, I will pull the ones that I know I can do...the ones that sound safe and sensible...then I will put myself on my own healthy bone program. In 6 months to one year, I will go have another bone density test done and see where I am at. If it is worse, then I will have to reconsider the drug options. If it's the same, I will know that I am doing something that works.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti prescription drugs. I just think as a society we are always looking for the quick fix and we put way too many drugs into our bodies. There is a time and a place for medications and I am so thankful that we have them for serious and life threatening illnesses. I just don't think every symptom requires a drug and most of the medical profession does.

How do you feel about prescription drugs? Do you do your own homework, or do you trust your doctor enough to just do what he/she tells you to do? Do you happen to have Osteoporosis? If so, what are you doing for it?


DUTA said...

I completely agree with your approach. Doctors are there to give medications, and they are in it together with the big pharmaceutical companies.

Medications have side efects, and don't stop the disease, they just play with it. Go for the natural preventive measures!

Lanyardlady said...

I feel the same way you do about drugs. I'm glad we have them for dire situations, but I try a natural treatment first if possible. I have a real suspicion when it comes to anything man-made as opposed to nature-made. I hope you approach yields positive results. Did the doctor say anything about increasing your calcium intake?

aliceinparis said...

Hiy, Kathy,
Read these articles. She is a mediacl librarian nad has the best info!!!
The first one is a mixture of things with a tiny bit related to osto, the rest are DETAILED INFO. I am SURE you will learn a lot and be better able to come up with a plan.She has it too. Happy reading:)

helen-mary said...

I started out osteopenic a few years ago. Ignored it, thinking I could work it out myself. Now I have osteoporosis and take monthly Actonel. And calcium. And vitamin D. I also prefer to stay away from drugs, but I don't want to end up in a hospital bed. I also know myself well enough to know I won't do tons of weight training to strengthen my bones - it's not going to happen.

Joan said...

I am just like you when it comes to meds and illness. I take four pills every day, one is low dose aspirin, but each has been researched thoroughly.

My cholesterol is high, was 234, and the meds my doc wanted me to take were incredibly scary. In a year I got it down to 207 and will keep doing what I'm doing. I'm also not 100% convinced that high cholesterol is a bad thing. The research in interesting.

Good for you for researching and not popping everything quick fix these docs try to force on you.

Cathryn said...

I'm so with you on this one Kathy. When I got sick back in 2008, I got worse on the medications the doctors were having me take. I now research my medications to find out what the side effects are because I'll have them.

I know strength training will help and getting Vitamin D naturally will help, along with calcium. Is this connected to your low-iron too?

And you can check out a naturalpath physician...I'm not sure what they are called.

I'm also against doctors who don't listen to their patients because of the HMO 15 minute standard---let's not get me started on that.

Matty said...

I share your feelings and thoughts about drugs, prescription or otherwise. I don't mind taking pain pills "once in a while", but not constantly. I don't think that taking a medicine here and there is going to have any lasting negative effects. It's the constant and regular use of them that worries me.

You are right to do your own research. Medical professionals aren't right just because they are doctors/nurses/etc. Plus, you have to wonder what their connection is to the drug companies. I'm not saying that every doctor has some sort of financial reason to prescribe certain drugs, but I've heard of it.

As a non-medical person, my thought is that you have to weigh the prognosis of your disease against any potential negative long term effects of the drugs. In other words, what happens to me if this disease gets worse and I don't take anything for it, versus what are the effects over time if I do take these drugs but they help my disease.

Have you done research on the drug(s) that treat your disease, and the short and long term effects versus how well they treat the problem?

Best of luck to you.

Mary said...

generally speaking i am not a fan of drugs and don't take any. the high blood pressure meds put me in the hospital with heart failure for 5 days and i almost died and i didn't take follow up drugs for cancer, which my oncologist actually agreed with. on the other hand, i have been around many older people with osteoporosis. people used to just get crippled with it and end up hunched over or in wheel chairs. the drugs today do help strengthen the bones. i don't know what i would choose. i've seen too many older people whose bones just crumpled under them or snapped and i know i don't want that to happen. once it gets really bad it just gets worse and no drugs will help it. it's up to're young for it to already be in the numbers you're in...

research is good....

Leah@storybookranch said...

I am the same about drugs. Seems you can't trust the FDA, they're always changing their minds. Plus, MEDICAL Doctors treat with MEDICINE, it's what they were trained to do, you know?

I hope you can find a more natural way of healing.

The Muse said...

My opinion... not walk to another doctor.
if for nothing else, another opinion.

We have built in warning bells...yours went off for a reason.

It is the doctor's job to be there for you. Not to just throw meds at you~and expect you to take them without question.

Ms Sparrow said...

Nowadays, it's hard to be sure your doctor has an unbiased opinion when it comes to prescription drugs.
(That is the one big advantage overweight folks have when it comes to health--our extra weight increases our bone density so we don't have as much trouble with osteoporosis.)

gayle said...

This is a great post!! I usually pretty much do what my doctor tells me. I don't do everything ...I research the meds and then I decide...My dr gave me thyroid med and all I wanted to do was eat..I was I told her I stopped taking it..she said oh ok ..your readings were not that bad anyway..she said she just wanted to make them better..I just went back for blood work and everything is fine Hmmm There have been many other times that I have not taken what she wanted me to. Like the drug that says might fall asleep while driving..I am not testing that on me. If I were you I would do what you have planned but take that bone test in 6months.

Angela said...

We are so much alike!! I just do not believe in most prescription drugs. I rarely even take a Tylenol. If I believed that all the drugs were adequately tested it would be a different story. They put them out there so quickly and do not realize the side effects until it is too late for some people.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Kathy, I am anti-drug too, which is a lot to say from a person who takes several different medications a day-- one of which is a drug that hs the potential to give me cancer. Each Rx was a tough decision that was researched extensively.

Like you, I turn to WebMD and for a lot of my information and I talk long and hard with my doctors.

I've found that the single hardest part of the aging process and, in my case, also having a chronic illness, is finding a doctor that is truly part of YOUR TEAM and will take the time to talk things through and listen to YOU on your journey for wellness.

I've worked my way through several docs over the years and am finally very happy with my current group of pros-- all of whom are in their young 40s and VERY open minded. I hope you can get to that point with your docs. It makes all the difference in the world.

Please stay on top of your possible osteoporosis. It really is up to use, individually, to advocate for our own wellness.

Wishing you good health my friend. xoxo

Kala Pohl Studio said...

Kathy, e-mail me. I can share a lot about Actonel. In fact, all my health problems last year started with some serious side effects to Actonel. Of course, we are all different, but if you google "actonel side effects", you will be inundated with info:)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That is some crazy pressure to take that prescription. I guess I take for granted that some drugs are helpful for some conditions--I have asthma meds and my oldest is on seizure control meds, but for other things like blood pressure I'd try a natural remedy. Some "diseases" are simply the course of time and aging and you can't stop them anyway. Some diseases, like cancer, require help for survival. I guess I don't NOT agree with taking meds, but I'm realistic about mortality and health. Exactly the customer pharmacies HATE!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I think you came up with a reasonable approach...try a natural approach for 6 months and get tested again. Weight-bearing exercise is an important component, I'm told.

I have cut down on the number of drugs I take, but I still rely on three or four. My hubby tends to get all the bad side-effects and few of the benefits, so he is the skeptic on our house.

Good luck as you figure this out!

Tins and Treasures said...

I am catching up on some blog reading today, and will follow this story closely. I, too, have been told that I have osteoporosis...and I feel the same way you do about medications. I have made no decisions yet.

I'll be anxious to hear what you decide.

Happy Weekend ~Natalie

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