Taking the fear out of an osteoporosis diagnosis
Back in 2016, long before I was diagnosed with osteoporosis I was told I had an overactive thyroid. Even as I looked at the blood test results the only feeling I had was that of curiosity, not fear. I wondered how I could have it when I felt so well? My guess is that because my diet was what I considered healthy (at the time) that I was not suffering any obvious outward symptoms. There wasn’t any fear because I believed that I could sort it out with nutrition, energy healing and journaling. Six weeks later I was proven to be right. I had faith.
The changes I made to my diet were simple, no gluten, nightshades, no processed sugar (it had crept back in via dark chocolate – my weakness), no black tea, reduced alcohol (I still wanted my glass of Rioja with dinner) and more water. In addition, I went on an intensive naturopathic nutrition course to support myself going forward.
However, when I received the osteoporosis and fracture diagnosis, I felt fear creep into my heart. It wasn’t pleasant as you can imagine. I did what I always do and that is research and reflect. My mum was diagnosed with osteoporosis in her 70’s and discovered five fractures. Her spine is twisted and deformed. She found out too late to be able to do what I am now doing and there are other complications. When she first found out, we purchased what books were available at the time and she made her decisions for treatment based on her research.
Mum’s treatment consisted of several different drugs which caused havoc and then she settled on the now withdrawn Protelos (Strontium Ranelate). In five years her bone density did increase. Next, she was given another drug – an annual injection – which has been horrible for her.
I’m lucky that I have my mum to talk to, although she was scared for me and wanted me to consider drugs. I knew that for me drugs couldn’t be the answer, there had to be a natural way. I had faith that there would be another way.
I was relatively calm as I read books, watched videos and participated in different forums. As the trips to the doctors and specialists ambled along I was feeling a mixture of fear and calm. I did cry a lot, but then I was in lots of pain and didn’t know what the specialist would do.
As it turned out the specialist I saw didn’t listen to me or read all of my notes and handed me a prescription without any other communication. I cried in her office and that’s when I felt fear grip me. I could hardly breathe as my head spun and I felt so alone.
It’s fair to say that I am a fighter and I will not tolerate not be listened to. So although I was immobile and relying on others to support me with shopping and getting places, I still had a highly mobile brain and I put it to good use. I also knew that I could turn this around, I just wasn’t quite sure at this time.
Fear of osteoporosis is only fear of the unknown and when you research and reflect fear does dissipate, albeit slowly. With knowledge comes power, but of course only if you take action. The biggest thing that worked for me was having faith and when I visited my normal doctor (when I could drive), he said ‘because you turned around your thyroid, I will support you to do this.’ He had faith in me and that meant I was no longer alone.
Fear releases cortisol, known as a stress hormone, which in elevated levels interferes with among other things bone density and quality. Being in fear is natural when you receive a diagnosis, because what else do you have in those awful moments? Staying in fear is not helpful because as you can see it will only make things worse.
Fear is necessary for survival. Think about how you can harness your fear, turn it into faith and fight for your survival.
So what can you do to release the fear with an osteoporosis diagnosis?
Journaling is the lowest cost self-help tool I know. It provides clarity and a place to release your wandering thoughts. When I was first diagnosed with osteoporosis I opened up a new journal and wrote like a demon. Not only did I use it to process my feelings, but also to record my journey and things that I wanted to research. It has helped me and will continue to help me.
Reframe the word fear
Reframe means to look at fear in another way. A popular way from my training days is to say that fear means false evidence appearing real.
- My suggestion is that you take the word fear and pop it into the middle of a piece of paper and mind map all of the things that the word brings up for you
- Next, connect to your writing muse and journal about what comes up for you
- Next, write the word Fear and then find your four words to replace it
- g. F – faith E – evidence A – activity R – reflection. I made these up as I wrote this blog, each time I do this exercise other words appear. This is my unconscious mind giving me a nudge as will yours
- With your four new words and a way of looking at fear consider what this means for you
This simple exercise is a powerful way to dig deeper into your psyche and find out what is going on and it will help you to reframe your fear.
Meditation and being mindful
Stop, let the world pass you by even if it is for only ten minutes. I certainly don’t meditate as often as I think I should, however, I do spend time gazing at the hills and walking in the quiet of Mother Nature, which I class as being mindful. Things make sense when I walk.
Breathing is essential to life, but when we are feeling fearful the breath becomes shorter. Take some time to notice your breathing and when fear arises, stop and follow the breath around the body, it will help you to relax. You can also send healing breath into your bones and if you have pain into where the pain is. I find noticing my breath very helpful.
When I couldn’t get out to walk because of the pain of the fractures it was horrible. I wanted to be in the arms of Mother Nature, but my body said no. When I started to be able to walk again it was such a relief to get fresh air into my lungs, have space to gain clarity and move my body.
Exercise also releases endorphins which give you a ‘high’. Endorphins are neurotransmitters – they send signals around the body. They also change your perception of pain (always a good thing). Endorphins are also released in response to other stimuli which includes fear and that as you know releases cortisol which is not so great in large quantities. To balance the fear, exercise such as walking, yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi will release endorphins which will counteract the effects of fear.
All things in the body and in life need balance, so bringing balance back with exercise increases the feel-good factor and helps with your bone healing.
Connect with others
Humans crave connection. With connection comes love and that certainly does make the world go around. Being connected with others that love, respect and hear you means that you can discuss your fears. When the words are released and reach the hearts of others, they can help you gain perspective, offer ideas, solutions and support.
Stop being pig-headed
I’m not sure where that phrase originates but it certainly has described me on occasion – stubborn and obstinate. A strong woman does not need help might as well be etched on my headstone, if I was to continue along that path. Asking for help has not been a strong point of mine. Yet when I stopped being ‘pig-headed’ and asked for help, I realised that I was not alone and that others do what I do and that is they love to help. When you allow others to help and support you it does help to take the fear away. – I know I am where I am as a result of this.
This may seem like a something that is furthest from your mind but looking in the mirror and smiling goes a long way. Find things that bring a smile to your face and then extend that smile to a laugh. Even when I was in the most pain I still managed to laugh out loud – holding onto my ribs. It was worth it.
Reconnect with your faith
Faith is complete trust in something. It is an intangible, yet you can feel it – I can. In my journal I wrote things like I have healed, I have strong, healthy bones and other affirmations. I purchased some magnetic letters and wrote ‘healthy bones’ on my fridge. This was to keep my faith focused on healing my bones.
Let’s finish with gratitude
Every evening, no matter how I feel I write 10 things that I am grateful for. Despite perhaps having a day where I haven’t felt brilliant, I write them and I always feel better. It also means that I can sleep on good things rather than rubbish.
Fear can kill us or it can spur us on to be a better person. I know which I have chosen.
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Thank you and I look forward to sharing my story with you. Dale