What the Hell

What the Hell

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bones, Beach Glass and BAGPIPES?

These are the things that stand out about the last few days.  Maybe I should add BOTTLECAPS because my bottle cap shrines are selling at the gallery!!  But back to my subject.  About the bones....well, you see, last week I had my physical and besides learning the extremely interesting fact that my post-menopausal uterus is the size of a key lime, (doc's words, not mine) I had my first DEXA bone scan and it came back "osteoporosis."  I am only 49.  But I have learned a lot more about the condition in the past days....most everyone knows it means you have bone loss, but I think perhaps many don't know the risk factors.  I have to say I was not really surprised because both my mother and grandmother had it, and I figured that was risk factor enough.  But there are others, it turns out.  So for all of you out there (mostly women) who might be affected by this condition some day, here are the reasons to ask for a bone density test.  (And I had been asking for 10 years, but was not given one because I was "not yet 50," and my doctor told me last week now insurance companies are pushing back the date for which they will cover the first one to 65!  However if you have several risk factors, it is worth seeing if they will cover you before then, when you can start doing something to stop the bone loss.)

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

Being White or Asian
Being a Woman
Late onset of menstruation
Early menopause
Family history of osteoporosis
Having a slight build, being underweight or thin
Using steroids (the jury is still out about corticosteroid use for allergies, but I used those for years)
Not consuming dairy products (or enough of them) 
Being deficient in Vitamin D
Thyroid Problems
Tobacco Use
Heaving Alcohol Use
Being more sedentary in the work you do

I had 11 of these.  The good news is at least I think I now have an explanation for the bone and joint pain I've been having for the last 15 years.  I had been checked for arthritis and come up with only minimal to none.  

Interesting thing about bones.  They serve an important function in your body.  They "hold you up."  How often do we talk about someone needing to "get some backbone?"  My own mother died from uterine cancer, which had metastasized and spread to several places, among them her spinal cord.  This was telling to me, seeing as how I had always wished my mother would have stood up for herself more in her life.  I hated seeing her swept along by what other people wanted and her desire to please.  She was like her mother in one particular way; they both let their husbands treat them badly.  They also both had osteoporosis.  And they both (I love telling this story) patiently endured such an existence because they thought or believed they had no other alternatives, only to have their little "I'll show you" moment after their spouses died.  My grandmother loved the color red.  Her name was Ruby, and it suited her, as did the vibrant color.  But my grandfather was insanely jealous of his wife.  She loved to dance, and he didn't, but she was not allowed to dance with other men.  He did not even like it when she and my mother danced playfully around the house.  And he would never let her wear red.  And she didn't try to....until he died that is, after a lengthy debilitating illness through which she nursed him faithfully.  The first thing she did afterwards (she was a seamstress) was make a red dress.  And she wore it to the funeral, near as I can remember.  We buried her in it when we lost her 20 years later.  My mother, although she constantly denied it when I mentioned it to her, repeated history, but with a different twist.  I can show you photos of my beautiful mother at my father's funeral, in her black skirt, black and grey plaid jacket, and her RED shoes.  I would like to believe that I already made my stand for independence when I started dyeing my hair red about 10 years ago.  For the record, my husband loves it.  So what if my spine and other bones have some holes in them?  I think I've got enough backbone left to deal with it. 

On to the subject of beach glass.  My husband and I have taken to walking along what counts as a beach here in the Northwest...yes, it's sandy, but quite rocky too, and the water is freezing.  But it's nice nevertheless.  We have learned to look at the tide tables first so we know when the tide is out the farthest and we can look for beach treasures.  The best find so far (and he has found two!) was the piece of Canton ballast ware.  These were the once ubiquitous hand-painted blue and white pieces of china (from China, primarily Canton) that were so popular in early America.  Think Blue Willow.  Everyone has heard of that pattern....and it became so popular that in the Victorian era when it was discovered that transfers could be made of intricate designs and easily put onto china, it REALLY took off.  But before that, it was so common in Europe that broken shards of it were used for ballast instead of stones or bricks in ships coming to North America.  Our little harbor here on the island had an old Creosote plant, and when creosote was found to be carcinogenic, it was classified as a superfund site by the EPA and cleanup began.  The harbor was dredged, meaning a lot of the silt on the bottom was dug out and hauled away.  Recently as last year efforts are being made to restore the native grasses that once survived on the bottom of the harbor and served as places for returning salmon to spawn.  The stirring up of the old sediment must have unearthed these little bits of history.  Fascinating stuff.  Makes me wonder what else is down there beneath the murky depths.  

But mostly what we find is beach glass. And the interesting thing about beach glass is that the longer it stays in the ocean being thrown around by the waves and distressed, the smoother and more spectacular it gets.  It morphs from something that is jagged and deadly to something that is soft and luminous.  All that chaos and distress makes it into something special.  Maybe there's a lesson in that for each of us.  Life is not without its knocks.  But maybe the knocks can serve a benevolent purpose.  Just maybe.  

On our walk back to our house, we heard the strains of....what? Is that what we think it is?....bagpipes playing.  Our island is an eccentric little place, but that was a bit of a surprise.  As we drew closer to home, we passed the house where the man was playing, standing in his yard, facing the water glinting in the late afternoon sun.  It was magical.  May your days ahead have unexpected magical moments for you to discover.....

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