I have been blessed with being the Health columnist since the “Ask the Doctor” column began over three years ago. Besides the opportunity to interact with readers and a wide array of doctors, as we address medical questions that come in from Mishpacha’s readership, I am also given the privilege of writing feature articles on medical conditions that affect a certain number of our readers. Our aims are to educate, inspire, give chizuk, increase empathy, and to shine the light on some extraordinary individuals who are living their life to the fullest, albeit while managing the unusual challenges of a medical disability, disease, or condition.
This work brings me into that lovely place of hakaras hatov, as I learn about diseases I don’t have, and will never get. When I studied about growth hormones, I was grateful that none of my children needed them, even though we are a “short stature” family. When I interviewed several individuals who have Crohn’s disease, I thought differently about how much I take for granted my ability to digest the food I eat, without medication or pain. When I wrote a moving piece about the life journey of a woman with cystic fibrosis, after a double lung transplant, I wanted to appreciate every breath I take, like I had never done before.
Admittedly, when I wrote the feature on Alzheimer’s, I forced myself back into that comfortable cocoon called denial, because I know that it’s possible that it could be part of my future life, as all four grandparents are alive, baruch Hashem, and my husband won’t let me cook with aluminum touching the food … just in case it could help postpone any senility that comes with age. As I am fifty-one, I can manage not to think about Alzheimer’s on a daily basis, as I still feel thirty-five on most days.
And then, I was asked to write a feature article about osteoporosis. This one hit too close to home. I wanted to believe that if I take my calcium supplements like a good girl every day, I will escape the dreaded fragile bones and shrinking spine of the older woman. And then I began my research, talking to doctors, individuals who have been diagnosed with the beginning stages of it, and older women who suffer from its effects.
After interviewing one woman, age fifty-seven, with significant thinning of her bones, I called up my GYN. “Can I have a bone scan to see where my bones are at this stage of my life?”
“Federal guidelines now recommend that women age sixty-five get a bone scan, unless there is a family history or reason for concern”, he replied.
“I have reason for concern,” I responded. “Over the last few weeks, I interviewed several people about osteoporosis, and now I’m worried. Can you write me a script for a bone scan?”
And so he did, and today, I am scheduled to visit our local radiology center for a reassurance bone scan.
When I wrote about Crohn’s, I didn’t reach out to a gastro doctor for a checkup.
When I wrote about stuttering, I didn’t schedule an appointment with a speech therapist, just to make sure that my occasional stumbling over my words is anything to worry about.
When I wrote about osteoporosis, this one hit close to home.
I can’t wait until my doctor calls me and tells me that I have the bones of a thirty-five-year-old.