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Ellen Dolgen
The big “O” – Osteoporosis 101
Healthy Living
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Osteopenia means low bone mass that places you at increased risk for osteoporosis and broken bones. When it comes to your bones, being dense is a good thing. However, Dr. Diane Schneider, author of The Complete Book of Bone Health, explains, “A diagnosis of osteopenia doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop osteoporosis. Osteopenia is not a disease, either.”

Detecting osteopenia

So how do you gauge your bone density? There is a test for most everything and bone density is no exception. Bone density is determined via a bone scan or bone mineral density (BMD) test. The most common – and most accurate – test is a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. Try saying that real fast! The bones in the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm are those most commonly tested.

If you’re worried about radiation, have no fears. A DXA scan uses low-dose X-rays. According to the National Institutes of Health, you receive more radiation from a chest x-ray.

To scan or not to scan, that is the question.

Are you a candidate for a bone scan? The National Osteoporosis Foundation suggests that you should consider it if you can answer “yes” to these two questions:

  • Are you a postmenopausal woman or man age 50 or older?
  • Have you recently broken a bone?

The test itself only takes about 10 minutes, so you can’t use “I’ve got no time” as an excuse. However, not all insurance plans cover bone scans, so be sure to check with your carrier first. The average cost of a DXA scan of the spine and hip is $140.

Your T-score and what it means

The T-score is the result of the scan (and we’re not talking golf). The Mayo Clinic explains that your T-score compares your bone density with that of a healthy young adult of your sex.

According to the criteria established by the World Health Organization, here’s what your T-score means:

-1 & above normal
Between -1 to -2.5 osteopenia or low bone density
-2.5 & lower osteoporosis

If you have a T-score of -1, you have twice the risk for bone fracture as someone with a normal BMD. If your T-score is -2, you have four times the risk.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2001 reported that a 50-year-old white woman with a T-score of -1 has a 16 percent chance of fracturing a hip, a 27 percent chance with a -2 score, and a 33 percent chance with a -2.5 score.

Beyond the numbers assessing the overall risk

“Over the past decade, we have learned to use bone density scan results in the context of assessing one’s overall risk of fracture,” Dr. Schneider said. “The result of osteopenia must be evaluated along with other risk factors. For instance, if you compare a 55-year old woman with a 75-year old woman who both have the same T-score of -2.0, the 75-year old woman will have a higher risk of fracture based on her age alone. Various tools are being used to quantify fracture risk like the FRAX calculator. As a result, fewer early postmenopausal women are being treated with osteoporosis medicines.”

Medical options

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends drug treatment for osteopenia in postmenopausal women and men age 50 and older who have at least a 20 percent risk of any major fracture (spine, forearm, hip, or shoulder) in the next decade or at least a 3 percent risk of a hip fracture.

Johns Hopkins Medicine warns that taking bisphosphonates or other bone-building medications for osteopenia means you may be treating a condition that might never develop. These medications also can be costly, which may be a determining factor on when – or if – you begin taking them. You will want to make sure your risk is high enough to warrant starting on medicines.

Medications used to treat osteopenia/osteoporosis include alendronate (Fosamax and Binosto), risedronate (Actonel and Atelvia), ibandronate (Boniva), and raloxifene (Evista). Other medical options include denosumab (Prolia) as twice a year injections, zoledronic acid (Reclast), given intravenously once a year or every two years, and teriparatide (Forteo), daily injections for a total of two years only. Estrogen is FDA-approved for prevention of osteoporosis if other options are not viable.

Some doctors recommend taking medication for five years, taking a break, and then going back on medication. This may mitigate any potential rare negative side effects, such as femur fractures, jawbone decay and more.

Non-medical options

Harvard experts suggest if your T-score is closer to -1, you’re better off getting more weight-bearing exercise, calcium (1000 mg/day), and vitamin D (800 mg/day). Weight-bearing exercises are usually those where your feet (not your tatas) touch the ground, such as running and walking. Strive for at least 30 minutes a day.

Heavy drinking can increase your risk of osteoporosis, so, ladies, you’ve got to lay off the bottle… in moderation. One alcoholic drink a day for women and two a day for men is considered moderate.

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway – you shouldn’t smoke. Period.

Osteopenia has been overmedicated in the past. Now that fracture risk is assessed, those with low fracture risk do not benefit from medicine, but those with high risk, as defined by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, do.

If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia, consult with your physician to determine the best course of action.

Keep the “O” in the bedroom; keep it out of your bones!

Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

Robin Donovan, Menologues
Gearing up for my 10-year Menoversary
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Ten years ago in October I had a hysterectomy and started down my menopausal journey. In many ways it feels more like 30 years ago! So much has happened – correction – so much has had to be dealt with in that 10-year time frame.

Looking back on these past ten years the dominant feeling has been one of frustration. Dealing with a body that has changed, and not much of that change has been positive! I don’t even feel as joyous over the lack of a monthly cycle as I’d expected – man, I thought that would be a celebration every month – but it feels as though it’s just kind of faded away. Sometimes I try to remind myself of the discomfort and inconvenience just so I can feel triumphant – but it falls kind of flat.

What I do experience is the greater difficulty in losing weight (not that it’s ever been easy), the night sweats and the hot flashes. The ever present need to check my “freshness” on pretty much every front. In short, I kind off feel like a walking, clammy blob. It’s not great!

Do I sound whiny? Honey, I’m just getting started, but I’ll guarantee those around me would be crabbing about the broken record who’s been overgenerous with her TMI!

In fact, I’m lucky. I have a great doctor who monitors my hormones and works to improve my symptoms, a wonderful chiropractor who helps me with symptoms as well as controlling scar tissue from my surgery – that’s been a huge (and most unwelcome) presence in my life!

I’ve said it before, menopause doesn’t end. You’ve lost key hormones in your body and they don’t just come back after a bit – they never come back. I’m convinced that the clinical definition of menopause being over is the body accepting that death is inevitable and that decay leading to death is only natural. It’s not like having the flu and having it be over!

Sadly, one difference that has occurred over these past 10 years is that I used to be quick to point out that I was in surgical menopause – because I went into menopause earlier than the average – I was very young. Now, 10-years later I’m quick to point out that I may still be IN menopause (doubtful, but you prove I’m not!) – because I’m too young to be finished with menopause. Damn, the years are unkind in so many ways!




My Heart Goes Out To You
Family & Relationships
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Aging brings with it the opportunity to make decisions during our lives that will leave profound legacies; for our families and for people we will never meet once we are gone.  However, contemplation of the following should be done by everyone, no matter the age.

Think about the body part phrases we use daily to express ourselves.  ‘I’d give my right arm to have that job.’  ‘I’m just trying to get my foot in the door.’  ‘He’s cutting his nose off to spite his face.’  ‘I’m all ears.’   You get our drift, although we’re not trying to point fingers.

Many parts of our container, as I call it, are essential to human life.  What if your son or daughter’s life depended on the generosity of someone donating an organ?   It’s not like the deceased actually need their body parts anymore.  Un- donated organs will either be burned or left to decay with the passing of time.

One important legacy that will make you a true hero in the eyes of many people, especially a transplant recipient and the people who love them, is to be an Organ Donor.  YOU can be that hero.  YOU can make the difference in someone else’s life.

Here are some amazing reasons to consider donation that may be helpful to you in making your donor status decision.  (Partially taken from the LifeSource Organ and Tissue Donation website.)

Why consider donation?

Your decision saves lives – up to 60 lives, in fact!  It’s also a gift to your family and your community.

YOU can give someone their life back.

Imagine being tethered to a dialysis machine or struggling to breathe while walking up a flight of stairs.  What if you couldn’t ride a bike, play with your kids or travel? The gift of organ donation brings new life to people who are struggling with end-stage organ failure and allows them to once again live their life instead of watching from the sidelines.

It’s a gift to your own family.

It is often heard from donor families that their loved one’s donation was the one positive thing that came out of a terrible tragedy.  Many families say that knowing their loved one helped save and heal lives gave them great comfort and strength in their grief journey.

Would you want someone to help you?

The fact is, you are more likely to end up needing an organ or tissue transplant than donating. Fewer than 5% of people are able to give the precious gift of organ and tissue donation upon their death.  Nearly 120,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant and the number continues to grow each day.  If you’d be willing to accept a transplant, shouldn’t you be willing to help someone else?

Spread the word; ask your friends and family, start a campaign at your church or other groups in which you are involved.  The life you save by just initiating the conversation may be the one that’s reading this right now, YOU, or more importantly one of your children’s lives.  So don’t just give this ‘lip service’, ‘shake a leg’. Because I am a donor I can truly say ‘my heart goes out to you’.

To obtain HERO status in creating YOUR legacy just check the “Donor” box on your drivers license OR click here to link to our favorite law firm,  LOMMEN ABDO.

Create a Life to Love. 4 things happy people do consistently.
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All kinds of people study what makes happy people that way.  I hope it makes THEM happy too!

The findings of a recent report were surprisingly simple….so much so, they may make some cynics scoff—but then I have never met a cynic who was happy, have you?  If you are feeling a little blue…..then there might be a way into a new view with just a few easy things to do.

Here are the most recent findings about what happy people do on a daily basis:

1.  They make up their beds.

Studies have shown that happy people have some kind of internal sense of beginning and ending things. One researcher called it consistent “markers” that are an ingrained part of each day.  Happy people get closure, feel complete, then move on to the next thing.  The simple act of making up a bed is getting closure from the night before.  It sets the wheels of a new day into motion. It cleans things up and gets life in order….even in the smallest way.  Makes sense to me.

2.  They floss.

Happy people are most often the healthiest.  And, like the consistent “markers” mentioned above, flossing is another way to get closure, as in the end of a meal. before moving forward.  Tooth decay and gum disease—-as well as other diseases that are transmitted through food—when left in the teeth, create a kind of “compost” in the mouth that breeds all kinds of nasty stuff.  Gum disease and heart disease are directly related.  Happy people get the gunk out.

3.  They find a way to help others.

Happy people find a way to give back or to give, in general.  One happy woman I know, when I shared this list with her—-was in total agreement.  Her comment, “Hey, when you are helping someone else and you know what you have done has been of benefit….everyone wins.  Their lives improve AND, I know that who I am and my life experience actualy matters. Helping out is a two-way street.”

4.  They listen to music.

Happy people bolster themselves with music that re-inforces their love of life.  The genres span the spectrum.  Happy people get their groove on.  They use music to enhance whatever activity they are pursuing.  They like to hum, too. Supposedly, only twenty percent of happy people are actual musicians—-justing listening is enough.

Looks like being happy could be pretty easy to do.

boomer breasts and the state of the planet
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Boomer breasts, while going about their daily business in relative obscurity, have nonetheless unwittingly become symbols of the general state of our world.

The Breaking up of the Polar Ice Caps: The southward journey of the Boomer breast is symbolic of the sinking of the polar ice caps, but because it is located in a place that isn’t normally seen by the public, it is allowed it’s continue slide in relative obscurity until that critical moment when a casual look informs one that it has disappeared, or rather, has relocated itself to another place entirely.

The Disappearance of the Tundra: Like the disappearing permafrost, the decline of the Boomer Breast has its repercussions. As one scientist said, “Think of broccoli that you’ve got in the freezer. As long as it’s frozen, it will remain stable for years. As soon as you pull it out, it’ll go mushy and soon begin to unleash the stench of decay.” This quote has nothing to do with the Boomer Breast, but it is sort of disgusting to think about.

The Fiscal Cliff: The Boomer Breast, like the fate of the US economy, continues to be bogged down by partisan interests: the desire to be true to oneself vs the desire not to scare people in public.  The result is extreme factions, in which some women flaunt their natural sag and secure their breasts with their belts in public, while others wear regular bras during the day, sleeping bras at night, and look forward to a “shower bra” being marketed in the near future on QVC.

Fox News: The Boomer Breast, like Fox News, isn’t what it appears to be.  Held up by various hidden levers and pulleys, it may seem to be legitimate.  But fact checks reveal that its source is often contrived and influenced by outside interests. When threatened, it closes ranks and issues statements like “Everyone thinks I’m ten years younger than my age” and “I still have the breasts of a Barbie Doll.”

Palestine Admitted to the UN:  Like a non-country being treated like a country, the Boomer Breast often masquerades as legitimate, even though it’s the bra, and not the breast, that others respond to. The breast hides its natural inclinations and the world hopes that the bra will continue to keep it in check.

The Petreus Scandal: Like the most recent antics of the high-profile male, the Boomer Breast may, on occasion, stray into territory in which it shouldn’t.  But basically, it does its job well and it’s decline in no way interferes with its performance.  And anyway, it is only doing what all members of its species do (or would like to do) and so shouldn’t be blamed for what is natural and expected.

Fallout: Yes.

The Endangered Species Act: I wish.

Alien Invasion: While many Boomer women would like to believe that the state of their breasts is due to an alien invasion, this writer has found no evidence to support that belief. Yet.