Aging Gracefully (Or Not): Body changes

Aging Gracefully (Or Not): Body changes

Natalie Gelman

I recently went to a doctor to have her look at the results of a bone density test I had three months ago. When I went to my primary doctor for my annual exam, he noted that I had lost another inch of height. The prior year I had also lost an inch. He examined my back and felt there was a slight bulge in one place. He referred me for the bone density test.

About seven years earlier, in Maine, I had been diagnosed with osteoporosis. I was referred for an evaluation purely due to age. I took medication for five years. I did have one follow up bone density test done in Maine and was told there was improvement.

Two years ago, I was advised to cease the medication.

After the last test, I was advised to see the specialist. She noted the spinal bulge and also that my calcium level is a bit high. She asked if I ever had broken a bone and I related that the only time I had was a result of an auto accident, in 1998. When she entered the statistics on her computer, she was unable to qualify that the breaks were due to an accident. As a result, the statistics put me in a vulnerable range for future breaks.

She said that high calcium levels can be due to the functioning of my parathyroid, which may be caused by one medication I take. Or my spine may be breaking down and that is the source of the elevated calcium level, ergo the spine bulge.

And so, I am ceasing taking the possible contributory medication and will go for tests. Then I see her three weeks later, once she has the test results, and the decision of how to proceed will be made.

I did not ask her about the worst case scenario. I surmise it is a bent spine.

I feel like crying. I have never responded to a doctor’s appointment with this much anxiety. I have been reflecting on it for a couple of hours and I am sure it is due to my increased awareness of the effects of aging. I have always considered myself very healthy and without concerns beside those addressed by medications (high blood pressure and cholesterol).

I had not told anyone before writing this. Doug is on his way home from work, and I will then. I will calmly go through the next five weeks until I am able to meet with the doctor again and find out her medical opinion.

I do not recall having to go through this before. I know it was the process I went through after the accident, but I was not actively involved in the beginning. I hope my application of my own goal setting works in this situation.

In 2013, I went for my annual checkup. I discovered my height had diminished by one inch. I told my doctor that this concerned me because I had told my kids many years ago that if I ever could not see over the steering wheel when I was driving, I wanted them to shoot me.

“This is getting scary,” I told the doctor.

He assured me that was not likely to happen and said, “I do not see any people in this office to get taller.”

Right, he is not a pediatrician.

Body changes. Yep, they do happen.

Natalie Gelman can be contacted at Her website is