No Bones About It: It’s never too early to worry about osteoporosis

As told to Riva Pomerantz by Stacey Kalla


My mother was one of the healthiest and fit person I knew. I grew up seeing her working out regularly—I’d come home from school and she’d be there, following along to an aerobics video. She was very into eating healthful foods even when it wasn’t yet in fashion—fruits, vegetables, lean protein. She was health- and weight-conscious, and it showed. At 76, my mother had never had any major health issues. She was constantly running on all cylinders, fit as a fiddle, high energy, and working full time. She’d get up early, go down to the health club for an hour-long workout and then work a 9-to-5 job, no problem.
“I can’t even believe we’re taking that business trip in the end,” my mother told me as we chatted one day. “I’ve never been to Las Vegas. It’s exciting! It’ll be nice for me and Daddy to get away for a little bit.” We talked about what clothes she’d pack and what their itinerary would look like, and then my kids came home and I had to go.
“Have fun, Mom,” I chirped. “Send me a postcard!”
It was in the middle of the dinnertime rush when my mother’s number flashed across my phone later that afternoon. With a pot boiling over and two kids needing homework help, I figured I’d just speak to her after bedtime, but when I got a third call in under five minutes, I became concerned.
“Are you okay?” I asked, popping the chicken into the oven. “What’s up?”
“Stacey…” my mother said in a voice that sounded strangled.
My heart thudded to a halt.
“What’s wrong?” I stammered.
“Stacey, I…I can’t move.”
Let me tell you something. When you live halfway across the world from your strong, healthy mother, there are fewer things more frightening than hearing her sound like she’s about to collapse! I nearly collapsed on my end of the line!
“What happened?” I cried. “Talk to me!”
“I don’t know what happened, Stacey,” she sobbed. “I’m in so much pain I can’t even move. And it came on so suddenly.”
“Okay, okay,” I said, trying to calm down enough to think clearly. “Let’s just figure this out. How did it start? Did you lift something? Did you trip and pull a muscle? Where’s the pain?”
“It’s…it’s my hip, it’s my leg, it’s my back…it’s all over,” she whimpered. “I don’t even know what to do.”
“Where’s Dad?” I asked.
“He’s on his way home,” she said. “I just called him, emergency. I’ve never had pain like this in my life.”
“What about the trip?” I asked delicately.
“Oh, honey, there’s no way I can travel like this tomorrow. I can’t even stand up! We’ll have to cancel.”
My mind raced frantically with panic. My poor mother! What was going on with her?
After a good dose of Tylenol and a couple of hours of rest, my parents decided to go ahead with the business trip and hope for the best. The sun-drenched skies of Las Vegas beckoned, and my parents tried to throw themselves into their packed itinerary, only my mother’s body simply would not cooperate. A day into the trip, the pain was so bad that she had no choice but to go to the local emergency room.
After a thorough examination, the medical team was pensive.

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