November 27, 2011

Chalk is for writing, not Drinking

I have osteopenia and have had it, to varying degrees, since I was 36, for those of you who did not know.

Actually, the story goes, my Mom was diagnosed with osteoporosis around the age of 55. (I may be off by a couple years, it may have been 57, but 55 sticks in my head.) She was told she had the bones of a woman over 20 years older than she was at the time. We were horrified. This is a woman who watches her diet, has always exercised, but here she was, diagnosed, and NOT diagnosed because the doctor caught it, but because SHE insisted on being tested.

A good thing that came of it is her doctor became a HUGE advocate for women getting tested early. My Mom was the catalyst for that, my Mom and her telling him he WOULD test her and why.

He got the religion.

It's hard to argue with Mom when she's done her research. She is thorough.

Mom is 24 years older than I. I was 31 when she was diagnosed, just having had my second child, if I recall. By the time I had Bones, it started rolling around in my head, that if Mom had the bones of a 75 year old woman at age 55, what did she have... at 35?

Add to that, I too had three pregnancies and I breastfed. Babies are human leaches. I used to tell people, "They are leaches! Leaches I say! They are going to take from me what they need and leave me with nothing but a shell of myself!"

Say that with much flair and hand waving and you get the general jist of my dramatic 'Babies are leaches' performance.

So by age 36, I went to my OBGYN and said, 'I want a bone density scan'.

He said, "Bou, you're too young. You're THIRTY-SIX. We don't do scans on women this young."

To which I replied, "You do now..." and I laid out my data, telling him I was trying to extroplate as to when my Mom fell into the risk zone, that surely it had to be around my age and I wanted a baseline data point.

It is tough to argue with me when I've done my research. I am thorough.

And he acquiesced as he has been known to do with me frequently, calling me to my friends, "Dr. Bou", and he had me in for a bone density scan the next week with a radiologist he knew.

Three days later when he got the results he called me and said, "Bou, I don't know what to say. You... have osteopenia. You were right... it has started..."

It doesn't take rocket science folks. It has to start somewhere, and when you're a petite woman, who has maintained a weight typically below 130 lbs most of her life, and then did the whole 'leach thing' three times... there is a pretty dang good probability that there are going to be issues, in particular since petite women are high risk.

Bonus for me, I never smoked. And I'm not Asian. And I don't have excessive alcohol consumption (I don't drink at all).

There are many things I've done over the years to try to keep it at bay. I've done a lot of strength training in the gym, I took Karate for years, I ran a marathon. High impact is good.

Taking additional Calcium is supposed to be good too... which is where my story REALLY begins.

I'm not big on taking calcium pills. You have to take something like FOUR of them a day and they're frickin' horse pills. Huge. And if it doesn't come combined with Vit D and magnesium, then you have to take those too. I hate that. I hate taking a fistfull of crap that I'm not sure is doing anything.

Besides, my Mom on a lark took one of those big horse pills and put it in a small bit of vinegar to see if it would break down after so much time. Part of that pill was left after an hour. How much is REALLY being absorbed in your stomach? Really?

Last night, I was at a healthfood store getting more of my whey protein for the shakes I drink for breakfast. I said to the guy, 'I am waiting for them to come up with calcium in liquid form."

He looked up from the register and said, "They do. I'll show you..."

He took me to the bottles of Calcium (bonus, they included magnesium and Vit D) and said cheerfully, "You have a choice! Strawberry or blueberry?"

And he waited. Smiling.

I grimaced and said more stoically, "This can't be good. If they have to flavor it, it tastes like crap..."

He looked at me realizing I was probably right and I finally said, "Ok, strawberry. It's probably the most benign."

Folks, there were warning bells ALL over that I did NOT catch. One, it is flavored. Two, it said to refrigerate. Three, it didn't slosh.

I tried it tonight, opening it and finding a thick white substance. Something was ringing in the back of my head, "NOT GOOD! NOT GOOD! STAY AWAY!" and still I did not listen.

I took out a tablespoon and slowly, this crap poured out like glue and it suddenly occured to me what it reminded me of.

Barium. I had an upper GI a few years ago. They flavored it... orange.

Barium. Calcium. Only the first few letters are changed. If you have to drink anything that ends in "IUM", chances are, it's not a good thing.

Chalk. It tasted like strawberry chalk.

WTF was I expecting? I'm so stupid. I'm asking for liquid calcium and I thought it would come out the consistency of Dimetap?

I said to my Mom tonight, "At least I only have to drink one tablespoon twice a day instead of jugs or cups." One tablespoon keeps the gag reflex away.


I dunno. I'm thinking osteoporosis may not be the worse alternative. We shall see...

Posted by Boudicca at November 27, 2011 09:54 PM

Can you mix it with anything else to make it thinner? It only has to mix long enough to swallow - maybe even ice cream would work ;-) Or you could look for the calcium/magnesium combo in Whole Foods (drat I have to look it up and send a link). It's in a gelatin capsule which means to me the inside must be less dense than a pill with no capsule. I'll see if I can find the one I mean. I didn't pick up a new bottle because I haven't wanted to make the 25 mile trip to WF. *sigh* I'm currently taking one of the others. But I have no bone problems I know of... I come from a family with bones like iron until they get to their 90's. heh.

Posted by: Teresa at November 27, 2011 10:43 PM

You know... that's an idea. A gelatin capsule. I wonder how many of those suckers I'd have to take.

I'll have to go by there and see... after I finish this jug of strawberry chalk, 'cuz I'm cheap that way. I'll finish it.

Unless of course I find it does not agree with my stomach. That barium made me sick as a big dog, so if this liquid calcium does that, I'm pitching it. Blech.

The other thing is, I have to drink it twice. That crap is so thick, by the time I pour it in my mouth, half of it is left in the tablespoon. So I have to put water in the tablespoon to try to get the rest. Otherwise, why bother to take it?

Posted by: Bou at November 27, 2011 10:52 PM

Let me know what you find. Right now I'm taking the 'chewable' chocolate calcium. Don't ask. But I bet it is better than your strawberry chalk!

Posted by: vwbug at November 28, 2011 05:51 AM

I might get banned from your blog for this one, but I've never had a problem with chalky-tasting medicines, I actually prefer them over the alternatives. Yes I know, that's just the weird kid in me. What makes me gag at the mere thought of them are cough syrups, particularly Robitussin and Vicks. Urk, urk, and double urk.

Posted by: diamond dave at November 28, 2011 07:23 AM

54 and my doctor has prescribed 3,000IU of D3 daily.
I've had two bone density tests and while my hipbones are dandy, my spine, not so much. It looks white compared to the hips. Of course, that may be due to the thickness of the bones. I didn't get a lot of information.

Posted by: pam at November 28, 2011 08:38 AM

I think I'd be OK with the chalk, had it not been for those three jugs of pineapple flavored barium I had to drink for that upper GI series. It's like when I had to do the three hour diabetes test, I always chose the orange stuff. I'm not so big on orange soda anymore. Not the soda of choice.

I'm trying to remember. I think I have it in one hip. I think my spine is fine. I should probably know that...

Posted by: Bou at November 28, 2011 09:16 AM

My ex took liquid CalMag for quite a while and it wasn't super thick that I remember. You might check around for brands. Plus, it comes in yummy lemon flavor. Obviously strawberry and blueberry are the flavors of choice for coverup plots but lemon, that must be good. :)

OTW I'd definitely stir it into a small glass of water. Still tastes like crap but at least it doesn't stick inside your mouth, thus preventing you from swallowing the taste away.

Posted by: heresolong at November 28, 2011 11:37 PM

My calcium is a digestible gel cap, it's still as big as a horse pill, but I don't have any problems with it like I did the others. I only take one a day, but I think it's supposed to be two a day. I get them from Puritan's Pride online. They may have something else that is tolerable for you.

Posted by: tina at November 29, 2011 02:39 PM

Have you tried raw milk? It builds bone density faster than anything else, and it's natural.

Posted by: Rave at November 30, 2011 05:44 PM

BTW- in my recent research (which I do for my own info), I've found several pieces of information.

1. Females with osteoporosis have low phosphatase levels.
2. Females taking replacement hormones (HRT)have higher copper levels.
3. Copper decreases the body's ability to absorb phosphatase.
4. Females between 35-65 taking HRT's have higher fracture rates.
5. Pasteurization kills phosphatase in milk.

Raw milk is not pasteurized. It's not homogenized. It's shelf life is maybe a week. But raw milk contains phosphatase that helps build bone density, whereas milk off the grocery store shelf does not. Store-bought ultra-pasteurized milk contains empty calories.

With all that said, I don't drink milk. :) But I might start, if it's raw milk. LOL

OH- and I did run across one study that says raw milk actually does several things- one of which is it improves/reduces eczema.

Posted by: Rave at November 30, 2011 06:17 PM