Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Osteoporosis: A Challenge Physically and Emotionally

"Today's unthinkables are tomorrow's realities." Those are the words of Scott Rigsby. Scott lost his legs at the age of 18 when an 18-wheeler slammed into his truck, launching him underneath the attached trailer and dragging him over 300 feet. While we all experience life challenges, some like this one can be so difficult that it is hard to comprehend. But Scott found a way to fully embrace the unthinkable, use his challenge to redefine himself, and reach unbelievable physical and mental accomplishments. He now runs marathons on carbon-fiber legs. He has even finished the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon, one of the most difficult races in the world.

On a figurative basis, an unexpected diagnosis of severe osteoporosis can feel like being hit by a truck. Multiple bone fractures and the constant fear of breaking are physically and emotionally overwhelming. I'm not saying that what I went through was anything even close to Scott Rigsby's ordeal, but like Scott I was determined NOT to be defined by this challenge. When I finally began to see improvement in my bone density scores and in my lab tests after 5 years of studying osteoporosis and finally figuring out how to overcome it, I was thrilled. the fact that I was no longer breaking bones was no less than amazing to me. But even seeing the numbers improve and the fractures disappear wasn't enough to bring back my self-confidence.

Like Scott, I needed to do something that really challenged me both physically and emotionally. I needed to find some activity that pushed me to my limits so that I could find myself. Completing an Ironman--swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles--was just the ticket. Physically, I knew I had recovered, but emotionally I needed that Ironman finish to tell me I was "back" as the person I wanted to be, strong, capable, confident. When I crossed the finish line at the Florida Ironman, qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, my emotions flowed. Completing that race signified my success in overcoming osteoporosis. Crossing that white line wasn't really the finish of anything, it was the start.

We all need encouragement, inspiration, and support in fighting the battles of life. No matter what the challenge, the most important thing to remember is "never give in," "never quit."

If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for this disease, I know from first-hand experience that you CAN improve your bone health and you CAN reduce your risk for future fractures. Set goals for yourself. They don't have to be wild and crazy like an Ironman, but benchmarks are very effective at keeping you motivated. Also, look to others for support. It can be difficult to manage the emotional stresses brought by the constant fear of breaking and the pain of existing fractures. Don't go it alone. Talk to your friends; make sure your spouse or partner understands what you are going through. Look for support groups. The National Osteoporosis Foundation is a good resource. It also has its own online-support community called Inspire. And, of course, continue reading my blog. It is my hope that here at OsteoNaturals we provide not just great supplements but also important information about osteoporosis. The more you know about this disease process, the more powerful you become!

 
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