Saturday, September 23, 2006


A Digression On Health and Chronic Diseases

Osteogenesis Imperfecta is a rare disease. Something like one in twenty thousand have it. The name, translated, means, duh, imperfect bone formation. Bones have a lack of collagen and are thus fragile—the popular name is “Brittle Bones.” The disease comes in many varieties, you might say: mild to fatal. The mildest is known as Type One. It can come as simply having it but rarely, if ever, breaking a bone, to having dozens over the course of a lifetime. Google osteogenesis imperfecta, if you're interested in it. It's so rare the scientists haven't figured out what to do about it.

I have Type One. I don’t know how many fractures I’ve had: at least fifty that I know of. I’ve had a large number of compression fractures of my vertebrae, as well; some of them I knew about, but others I was oblivious to at the time, or I simply wrote them off as “strains” or “I must have pulled something in my back.” Uh-huh: denial is not a river in Egypt. But, I got to say, between the age of, say, twenty, and fifty, it worked pretty well, all things considered.
Fifty is when my body started seriously breaking down. That was when I realized I couldn’t cut firewood or scramble up and down riverbanks on fishing trips, haul stuff that weighed half as much as I did, or even bend over while working on a car engine…

I just didn’t want to be known as a cripple—particularly by myself. I spent years trying to avoid that diagnosis. Made things worse, too.

I haven’t broken anything in a while, that I know of anyhow. But my vertebrae, because of the countless compression fractures I’ve had, are shaped like wedges of pie. I’m stooped over—hunchbacked. This has affected by rib cage; the official diagnosis for it is “kyphosis.” A month ago I had a serious case of bronchitis, and the doctors told me I was suffering from hypoxia. That’s a shortage of oxygen in my blood. That’s not a good thing at all and it scared the bejesus out of me. I now have, they say, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, COPD for short. For what it’s worth, emphysema is a form of COPD, too. Ugh. Hard to accept this. I know: I have to!

At least I’m back into exercising regularly over at the local municipal pool. Three days a week I’m in for water arthritis exercise: a half-hour of stretching and limbering, and a half-hour of aerobics. I got out of the habit of going back when my son died, and there have been many fits and spurts and false-starts since then.

So, I have two chronic diseases, now: osteogenesis imperfecta and COPD. One damn thing after another...sigh.

I know someone with Osteo - which bone did you last bread, how did it break and when. How many surgerys have you had due to fractures?
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