Saturday, March 13, 2010

"I have this one body, this one life"...

...So said Sally Field in her advertisement for Boniva. Now I'm saying the same thing in rejecting my current osteoporosis treatment.

I blogged about my comparative analysis of osteo drugs in August 2008 after my second bone scan showed that I had osteopenia. I jokingly called it Oscar de la Peña. It's no joking matter anymore. I didn't choose Fosamax because of reflux concerns. Now we know that long-term use of Fosamax has caused bone breakage in a significant number of women.

In doing my comparative analysis back then, I made a spreadsheet to line up all the side effects. Then I chose to go with Evista, which is not in the same class of drug with Fosomax. And then I forgot all the side effects of Evista...until Fosomax made the evening and morning news for several days in a row. That news made me go digging again into the small print side-effects for Evista.

The Good News:

  • Evista lowers the risk of breast cancer.
  • It lowers total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. It does not affect HDL ("good") cholesterol or triglyceride levels. (And I thought my good numbers were due to my use of Benecol)

The Bad News:

  • Signs of a blood clot in the leg, such as pain in the calf, leg cramps, and leg or foot swelling
  • Signs of a blood clot in the lung, such as shortness of breath, sharp chest pain, or coughing up blood
  • Signs of a stroke, such as vision or speech changes, weakness or numbness in an arm or leg, and a severe headache
  • Sudden loss of vision or vision changes, which can be a sign of a blood clot in the eye

Then I remembered that I talked to my primary physician about the risk since my family has a history of heart disease, including peripheral artery disease. He pointed out that deep-vein thrombosis is not the same as PAD. What we didn't talk about was the risk of stroke. And since I didn't know of any blood relative who had had a stroke, I didn't worry about that side effect, and started taking Evista.

The New News:

  • I now have a primary relative who has had mini-strokes.
  • I have experienced some vision changes, flashing floaters that lasted for a few hours.

I have for a long time used my sister to fortell my future. It's like a flash-forward to see myself dealing with the effects of mini-stroke. My sister has had no incidence of bone breakage, and she doesn't take an osteoporosis drug.

I have decided to take the natural route. I have quit my Evista, without consulting my doctor. I have boosted my Calcium intake...again.

More Good News:

I'm physically stronger. For the last year I have kept to a routine of strength training. Thanks to the crew at Rex Wellness, my arms, legs, core are all stronger. Thanks Deb, Sue, Marci, and Tricia. (And my role model, Michelle Obama)

I'll do another bone scan this year after a few months off Evista, to see if I can stay on track.


Anonymous said...

Watch your increased calcium, it can lead to increased plaque and muscle pain from calcium deposits in the muscle - UNLESS it's actually getting to your bones. To do that, you have to have enough vitamin D. That means sun exposure or supplementation with vitamin D3; the '3' is very important. D2 is much shorter acting and not as effective; it's also cheaper, so many foods 'fortified with vitamin D' are actually using D2. Take enough to get your 23-OH vitamin D test results above 60 ng/mL. Ask for a blood test from your doctor. Vitamin D levels are critical, not only for bone, but also for many other bodily functions, like cancer prevention. Almost every cell in your body contains receptors for vitamin D; that means it's actually necessary for the cells to operate optimally. So-called 'normal' ranges are notoriously low because most people are low in vitamin D. Good luck with your efforts to save your bones.

saraphen said...

Thanks for the advice, anonymous. I had my Vitamin D checked a few months ago, and my doc says I'm good.