Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dry Bones

“I think the left side of my body is cursed.”

Are we going to have one of those, “Does this make me look fat?” conversations, I thought, but replied to my wife, “Why do you say that?”

“Everything bad that has happened to me is on the left side: I broke my arm when I was six and two bones in the arm when I was ten. It was my left shoulder that broke when we were skiing. My left Achilles tendon tore. Similarly the rotator cuff tear was on the left. I’ll remind you I’m in therapy for a ligament tear on my left hip, and finally, my breast cancer was detected in the left breast. If it’s not cursed, it certainly is different than the right side.”

I am fortunate to have survived this life to date with no broken bones, although the cartilage in nose, ears and knees have taken several beatings. So while I can empathize with Mary I have no reference point on which to evaluate whether one side of the body is more susceptible than the other. As a dentist and as such a quasi-scientist, I doubt it. But I do know that the sides of the brain are said to have a practical and artistic difference, so I suppose it is possible.

I tried to make light of her problem by saying that perhaps the left side was just lazy, or distracted and could be made to pay better attention, but it got me thinking about bones.

I just returned from a dental meeting where there was mention of an update on the risk of bisphosphonates by the American Association of Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeons . This very technical paper essentially downplays the risk of having delayed healing of bones following bisphosphonate therapy and is consistent with a recent Swedish study, which concluded a low correlation between taking bisphosphonates and spontaneous hip and leg fractures.

The reason for taking bisphosphonates is triggered when a patient is diagnosed with Osteoporosis or, since we now have an instrument that can pick up early bone loss, Osteopenia. Both these conditions place one at risk for losing Calcium and many people who are not on therapy supplement their diets with Calcium-rich foods (yogurt, cheese, milk products) or supplements.

NPR this week highlighted a 61,000 person longitudinal study showing that a good diet will provide 700 mg. of the recommended 1200 mg. of Calcium we are supposed to take, meaning that Mary and I are over-shooting our needs by at least half. But, since there is only a small risk of kidney stones and such from too much Calcium, it is probably better to err on the side of more.

Discussing this topic with one of my sisters-in-law, I was steered to a book by an author of whom I was previously unaware: “The Left Neglected” by Lisa Genova. This novel begins by providing the ultimate lesson about cell phones and driving, and then makes us brutally aware of how bilaterally dependent we are. In the process we are given some perspective on what is important in our lives and the wonderful work done by Occupational Therapists..

I personally am more concerned about my grandson’s bones than I am about Mary’s. . At ages thirteen and six respectively, I can’t recall ever seeing either of them drink milk. It used to be sodas, and that still is beverage of choice most times when we go out. At home and at our home when they come for dinner, it has shifted to juices or lemonade. Ryan, my thirteen year-old has broken at least two bones while playing basketball. Coincidence? I think not. But they are not alone in their choice of beverage and perhaps as their generation ages, we’ll come up with alternatives sources of Calcium.

On another topic, I’m quite excited about a new trick I learned, that either of my grandchildren could do, and probably have done: uploading to You Tube. Tuesday I’ll share my story with you.

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