Age: in her seventies
Years Diagnosed with Osteoporosis: 8
Tone Your Bones (TYB): What was it like being diagnosed with osteoporosis? How did it make you feel?
Virginia Horns Marsh: Traumatic! It was the first time that I recognized that I had reached a different phase in my life that would affect my physical and mental behavior.
TYB: What types of treatments were recommended to you? Have they been successful?
Virginia: New technology to measure bone density, the DEXA scan, was implemented immediately and my test was positive. A more nutritional diet was recommended, which included additional calcium and increased Vitamin D. A weekly exercise program was started. Medications were prescribed and were very successful for several years, until allergies prevented their continuation. In London, medication infusions to treat osteoporosis are quite common, so Dr. Sarah Morgan requested research information regarding that program. We found the findings were both supportive and reassuring, so now I am given an infusion every three months.
TYB: Did you know a lot about osteoporosis? How did you find out more?
Virginia: My knowledge was very limited, so I attended diet and exercise classes, lectures, state and local meetings, and workshops. Reading about the disease and the progress underway helped to increase my knowledge. I also now enjoy volunteering to assist at osteoporosis screening events.
TYB: How did your physician help you?
Virginia: My physician answered all of my questions, recommended tests, medications, diet, and weight bearing exercise classes. Her recommendations were based on my overall health, medical history, other medications that I take, and my lifestyle.
TYB: What other recommendations were helpful to you?
Virginia: Wear comfortable shoes that provide support. Fall proof your home. Have good lighting in every room. Install brighter bulbs. Remove or secure rugs that may slide. Make stairways safe with handrails and non-slip surfaces. Equip the bathtub with grab bars and nonskid mats. Avoid clutter.
TYB: What lifestyle changes did you make? Was it hard to make these changes?
Virginia: I changed clothing so stooped shoulders were not so evident. I now use colored scarves and full dresses or skirts. My balance became impaired and the ability to respond to shifts in position slowed. I bought comfortable chairs. I provided the doctor with a list of questions, up-to-date medical records, and discussed concerns, anxieties, and expectations with her.
TYB: How do you feel you have progressed after first learning you were diagnosed with osteoporosis?
Virginia: I feel stronger than I have in years, so I know the treatment is working. The support and one-on-one attention I’ve received from everyone at the UAB Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Clinic makes living with osteoporosis much easier.