May is Osteoporosis month. But bone health should be on our radar every month. Think you are not at risk because you exercise? Or lift weights? Don’t be so sure. Osteoporosis can hit any goddess post-menopause.

Debbie D., a former triathlete, was kind enough to share her personal story with us. It’s a cautionary tale for me. And for all of us menopause goddesses.

Here’s what she told me in our interview:

MGB: Tell us a little about yourself. I understand you are a triathlete and that menopause dealt you a surprise.

DD: When I was 37, I began exercising in earnest. I became a triathlete. At one point, I was told I had osteopenia, just like many other menopausal women. (Editor’s note: osteopenia is a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) below normal reference values, yet not low enough to meet the diagnostic criteria to be considered osteoporosis.)

I broke a foot bone just walking at age 60 but didn’t think much about it, so I quit walking but I kept biking. Then, at 65 years of age, I was diagnosed with severe osteoporosis. I was in shock. And I had to stop biking due to neck issues.

MGB: How was your osteoporosis diagnosed?

DD: On a routine bone scan.

MGB: Wow. So it just seemed to come out of nowhere.

DD: Yes, it sure did.

MGB: After your diagnosis, did you find that your healthcare professionals were supportive?

DD: (Laughs.) Not so much. My OB-GYN started me on a treatment that I couldn’t tolerate. That MD had no other answers so sent me to an internist, who was really no help either.
I researched on my own and found a specialist who could help me. The specialist told me, “You could break a bone just sneezing.” I finally got help from the specialist and from the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Organization.

MGB: What have you learned that women can do proactively to strengthen their bones and improve bone health?

DD: Gentle yoga and walking are helpful. You need to eat right but I have found that you can’t really eat or exercise your way out of your diagnosis. So find a health care practitioner that you can trust. You may be prescribed medication and/or supplements such as Vitamin D and/or calcium.

MGB: The North American Menopause Society might also be a resource for our readers. Anything else?

DD: Yes. I have found that dealing with osteoporosis involves more of a mindset adjustment. I’m certainly more careful but not I’m not fearful. I went to a physical therapist to help me identify the best exercises and movement for me.

I also think it’s important to adopt a positive lifestyle and keep a positive mindset. That has certainly helped me.

MGB: Do you have advice for women in questioning their healthcare providers?

DD: Absolutely. Be your own advocate. Write down your questions and get answers. That’s what I did. Don’t be shy.

MGB: Any other advice/tips you would like to share with your menopause goddess sisters?

DD: Walking helps your body and your mind. Take time out for things like yoga and strolling. Reframe your outlook. I am currently working on travel – I am going through my bucket list of places. I’m enjoying my life. It’s not over just because you have osteoporosis.

MGB: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us.

DD: My pleasure.

Helpful links for more information:
Bone Health and Osteoporosis Organization
North American Menopause Society

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