Fall under foot

I haven't been very mobile lately due to fatigue and stomach pain. I'm craving long, brisk walks in the woods. I want to wander in the local parks under the colourful leaves of fall, but I remain very close to home. In my front yard, there are leaves from Maples and Alder. By looking closely and focusing on the world of shape and colour in each leaf, I try to expand what is nearby. But still, I yearn for large vistas, movement and open spaces.

Tedious leaves, splendid leaves. What are they? When I first noticed the detail in the leaves, I was thrilled. I could have taken scores of photos. But in the two weeks since taking these photos, I have been more aware of the beauty beyond me than the beauty at hand.

This post has been waiting while I try to figure out what these photos mean to me and whether or not I have a bad attitude: at least I am able to get out of my house and have a camera and should be ever thankful for that, right? Or if this is just a time where grief outweighs gratefulness? For people with disabilities, there is a lot of emphasis on being happy with what you have, celebrating what you can do; and a counter-statement that suggests that grieving is weak and unhelpful. While I understand the value in maximizing each moment and pursue instants of wonder with great gusto, I also feel the deep ache of longing for more, much more.

Complicated leaves. That's what they are.


Osteoporosis: a public service announcement

I initially created this image for a Halloween invite, but with all of the skeletons hanging around this past week or so, I've haven't been able to stop thinking about bones. I have Osteoporosis and have probably had thinning bones since my late twenties. I don't have a pre-existing degenerative bone condition; however, what I do have is a body full of pain and the resulting whacked out adrenal system that contributes to poor bone formation. It's easy to think about the health of our skin or eyes --parts of our bodies that are visible-- or our digestive system --parts that hurt when they are not working well -- but it's harder to pay attention to our deep and silent bones. If they could only talk. Before they fracture, that is.

The reason I see this post as a public service announcement is because I don't want others to go through what I did: I had a very difficult time getting a doctor to give me a bone density test because they didn't see me as being at risk; I lost years of prevention due to lack of information and I almost got stuck without a treatment plan because my regular doctor didn't believe that Osteoporosis and Osteopinia (where your bone mineral density is lower than peak density) can be reversed. I want to get the word out to folks who have chronic illnesses, chronic pain or other risk factors, that it might be a good idea to look deep down to the bone when it comes to thinking about your overall health. I really would have benefited from some preventive information early on in my life with chronic pain. I don't think I would have Osteoporosis today if someone had said that because I have pain I have a greater chance of poor bone formation and a higher risk of bone loss.

Osteoporosis experts have generated lists of who is at risk and I've never seen them include those who have chronic illness or pain. But my Endocrinologist tells me that chronic pain and illness can limit our body's ability to retain and form bone. There are places to read about the chemistry involved here, but suffice to say that chronic pain and illness put a lot of stress on your body and thinning bones can result. A bone density test is quick, painless and very low in radiation. It will tell you if you have good bone mass density or if you're at risk for Osteoporosis. If you do have Osteopinia or Osteoporosis, I would suggest seeing an Endocrinologist and not just sticking with a family doctor. Endocronologists look at your overall endocrine system and will be able to give you many options for building up your bones. If you attend to your bone health before you're 50 (when doctors start recommending bone density tests to all men and women), you'll have a better chance of making real progress in building up your bones and avoiding painful fractures. If you're over 50, you can still protect your bones.

Osteoporosis is known as "the silent crippler." Lots of people don't know they have thin bones till they fall and break something big and painful like their hip or pelvis. Hello! It's your bones speaking. Personally, I'd rather hear the whisper of a bone density test.

November is Osteoporosis awareness month in Canada.