What do Sally Field and I have in common?
No. I never aspired to be or play a nun.
No. I didn't co-star with Robin Williams.
Answer: We are both on Boniva.
Last week, during my annual obstetrics and gynecology appointment, I had a follow up bone densitometry test. Since the scan that I had two years ago showed bone loss, I was anxious to see if there was any progression. There was; it was significant.
My reaction was interesting. I got a lump in my stomach. (Code word: I panicked.) I was scared of falling on the ice when I walked out to the parking lot. I stopped by Target to get Viactiv and then by the grocery store to get yogurt and cottage cheese. When I got home, I immediately popped two of the chalky chocolate chews, two magnesium pills, and searched my contact list for the phone number of Dr. Felicia Cosman, a national expert on osteoporosis. I wanted a second opinion.
But, as I stepped outside myself, I started wondering, "Archelle, why are you so surprised?" I have a strong family history of osteoporosis, didn't exercise until I was 44-years-old, have refused to take calcium because it makes me constipated and only added dairy products and Vitamin D to my diet over the last few years. In fact, just a few months ago, I was a spokesperson for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Yes, I knew better so what outcome was I really expecting? Was I hoping that I would defy the odds? Or, was I in denial? Maybe a little of both.
I was even more intrigued by thinking about what triggered an instantaneous change in my behavior and motivated me to take actions that I had postponed for all of my adult life. The only thing that really changed between 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. on January 21 was a diagnosis. No pain. No fractures. No symptoms. Just a diagnosis.
Receiving a diagnosis is a known influence of behavior change even in the absence of new physical symptoms or function, and studies show that adults with new diagnoses are more likely to adopt healthier habits. How many times have you heard about a chain smoker suddenly kicking the habit when diagnosed with heart disease? But, fundamentally, a diagnosis is merely language.