A Bright Future: One Woman Fights Back Against Osteoporosis
When it came to eating right and keeping to a fitness program, Marcy G. was a stickler. A longtime secretary for the Philadelphia public school system, she never took an elevator below the fifth floor and regularly feasted on nutritious foods like salmon and kale. Add to that her attention for detail, and you can bet Marcy never skipped a visit to her doctor. In short, when it came to her health, she did everything right.
So you can imagine her shock when, 12 years ago, at the age of 65, she learned she had full-blown osteoporosis. “My OB/GYN sent me for my first DXA scan,” she recalls. “She realized that at my age and being just 5'3" and 110 pounds—petite and slender—I had some of the risk factors for osteoporosis.”
Turns out, she did indeed have the bone disease. So Marcy was put on an osteoporosis drug that helps build bone density.
She tolerated the medicine well, and when it came to her lifestyle, she didn’t miss a beat. She continued climbing the stairs in her seven-floor apartment building, taking the steps two at a time, and errands were done on foot.
Unfortunately, her yearly follow-up DXAs were telling another story. “I was continuing to lose bone mass, and I was getting shorter,” she says. Her doctor also told her to make a few modifications, like switching from 5-pound dumbbells to 1-pound weights when working out, and added a second drug to her regimen. “I was getting really worried about a fracture.” And then her fears were realized: “Little more than a year ago, I was climbing stairs when I felt a bolt of pain shoot through my back,” she says. Weakened vertebrae in her spine had collapsed and were pinching a nerve. “It was what I had always feared—I couldn’t move, couldn’t walk, couldn’t do the things I normally do.”
A discussion with her doctor revealed that luckily, Marcy had another option: a new medication. Given by injection at a doctor’s office, it works by reducing the amount of bone the body breaks down. Not only did it seem tailor-made for her, it would be less of a hassle.
Today, Marcy is facing the future with hope again. “I have a feeling I’m going to be able to dust off my 5-pound weights soon,” she says with a smile. Her doctor says her latest DXA scan suggests she might be right.