The Cascade Effect of Chronic Lyme Disease: I Have Osteoporosis. I’m 48.

Chronic Lyme disease is insidious for a number of reasons. Chief among them is the collateral damage the infection inflicts on your body. My osteoporosis is not caused by the Lyme bacteria. Rather, I have osteoporosis because of what the Lyme bacteria did to my body. Namely, it caused significant damage to my GI tract, which led to years of malnutrition and dramatic weight loss, which led to…..osteoporosis at the ripe old age of 48.

I try to stay positive about my situation, but the Osteoporosis news definitely irritated me. Even as I write about it now, I feel like I am talking about somebody else. My grandmother, perhaps.

After a short period of brooding and feeling generally annoyed, I decided taking action might be more helpful. First, I researched my options. It turns out Osteoporosis can’t be completely reversed, but there are definitely steps you can take to both strengthen your bones and stop bone loss. So, I’m not powerless over this. Good to know.

The treatment options fall into three broad categories: medication, diet/supplements, and weight bearing exercise. I ruled out the medication immediately, as it all seems to have GI related side effects. I’m basically a walking GI side effect, so I’m not looking for more of that.

Keeping vitamin D and calcium levels in a healthy range is helpful, and I am already doing that.

That leaves weight bearing exercise. At the time I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, I was walking some, but only every other day and not religiously. This seemed to be the biggest area of opportunity for me, so I decided to turn my irritation to action.

I doubled down on the walking, and started doing it every day. I started to park far from the door. I started going out of my way to lift things around the house. I started taking the stairs. I added more hand weights to my exercise routine. I started to wear an eight pound weight vest on shorter walks.

I see it as a game now. Forgot something on the second floor? Great! Another opportunity to work my bones on the stairs. Delegating the household heavy lifting to my husband? No more.  Now, I race to lift heavy things before he gets the chance. A friend wants to meet for coffee? I say how about coffee and a walk?

I made 10,000 steps per day my goal, and it’s the rare day I lay my head on my pillow without achieving it. Often, I’m well above 10,000 steps.

I have come to appreciate the upside of having Osteoporosis, which is I have daily motivation to keep myself moving. I’ll be damned if I’m going to break a hip. No way. Not me. Not today. Not any day. Those are powerful fighting words for me.

Another upside? After many months of increased activity, I can see how I have benefited both physically and mentally. Would I rather not have osteoporosis? Of course. But as long as I have it, I’m going to focus on the ways my weak bones have made me stronger.

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