Bethany's Bones: How other health conditions can impact your bone health
14 Apr 2021
Bones weren’t something I thought about growing up. I guess I took it for granted that my skeleton was always going to hold me up and that this wasn’t something that would change.
When I was 18, I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid, called hyperthyroidism, that caused the muscles behind my eyes to become inflamed and swell. As a result, I was placed on a high dose of Glucocorticoids steroids. I didn’t react well to the steroids and the side effects began to negatively affect my eating habits and mental health, which led to an eating disorder. All three of these things are risk factors for osteoporosis, although I didn’t know it at the time.
Fast forward a couple of years and my thyroid was removed, my medication was stable, and I was managing my eating disorder. The doctor then suggested that I should have a DEXA scan to check my bones. I was then told that I had osteopenia, which I took in as being as okay and left. I didn’t realise then, the impact my lifestyle could have on my bone health. If I had looked after myself, what happened next could have been different.
In 2020, I was finally taking care of myself – I had become a personal trainer and fitness instructor, and was supporting myself and others with exercise. After years of avoiding doctors, I finally went back for another DEXA scan and unfortunately, I was told that I now had osteoporosis.
At first, I was upset and blamed myself. I had a lot of questions – will my back break? Can I still teach fitness classes? Would I be able to carry children? After a talk with the Royal Osteoporosis Society (ROS) Helpline and their specialist nurses, I was better able to get my head around the diagnosis and treatment available.
Now, I’m grateful for the diagnosis. It serves as a constant reminder to look after myself, not just to protect my bones, but myself as a whole person. I’m realising the benefit of a healthy lifestyle and the right kind of exercise. I’m now studying an exercise referral course, so that I can learn to safely support others with osteoporosis and other health conditions.
If I could tell others one thing, it would be don’t take your health for granted, don’t ignore it. Make sure you give your body the nourishment it needs and move it every day. Whether its lifting weights, walking, running or just dancing in your kitchen to the radio, it has more benefits than you think!
I really want to help others who might be finding out about a problem with their bone health for this first time, so I’ve applied to be a volunteer for the ROS. I hope I can support others this way and get the message about bone health out there!