They say women have a special instinct, an intuition that guides them. It’s that feeling we all get that tells us something isn’t right.
While some of us tend to ignore new creaks and cracks as we age and blame them on ‘getting older’, Yvette Kaleel knew that at just 55 years old, something about the pain she was feeling in her bones wasn’t right, so she booked an appointment with her GP.
“I like to get ahead of something, to make sure everything is alright,” the now 58-year-old explains. “I had fractured my wrist playing basketball in my 40s, and I’d never broken a bone before that.
“My mum has osteoporosis so I knew a little bit about it and that it can be hereditary. I’d heard that after 50 it’s a good idea to have a bone density scan, especially if there’s osteoporosis in your family, so I thought it would be a good time to check with my GP and see how things were going.”
On paper, Yvette had always done the right things for her health. By her own admission she’s always been “a sporty person”, playing basketball and tennis. Yet it was her active and healthy lifestyle that saw her GP try to talk her out of the scan.
“He said that at 55, I was too young and he didn’t really think there would be anything to find if we did the scan,” she says. “But I prefer to take a preventative approach rather than a cure, to make sure everything is alright.
“My doctor was quite surprised when the results came back, and I was diagnosed with early onset osteoporosis.”
A bone density scan is the only way osteoporosis can be diagnosed if you have not suffered a bone fracture or break. The scan takes just 10-15 minutes, you remain clothed and is painless. It provides a result called a T-score, which your doctor uses to determine your risk of developing osteoporosis and guide you through appropriate treatment options if needed.
While Yvette had some knowledge and understanding of the condition, many women are unsure of symptoms and whether they need to ask their doctor for a bone density scan referral. That’s why The Big O campaign is focusing on empowering women aged 50-plus to take a proactive approach to the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis.
As there is no cure for osteoporosis, prevention is vital. By getting their diagnosis early, women like Yvette are able to get the upper hand on their osteoporosis and take simple steps every day to treat and manage the condition.
Understanding your own risk of osteoporosis is easy with The Big O’s online risk quiz, which assesses your answers to four simple questions to determine your risk of the disease.
Finding out she has osteoporosis was far from a setback for Yvette, who sees her early diagnosis as a positive thing.
“You can’t stop it, but you can help stop it progressing as fast as it could if you don’t manage it. So, I’ve been able to modify my exercise routine to support my diagnosis, take medication and supplements, and do weight-bearing exercises to help,” she says.
“Since being diagnosed I’ve changed my diet a little as well. I’m trying to do the best to not accelerate things. I’m lucky that I’m at a stage where I can manage it with diet, exercise, medication and supplements.”
In addition to these improvements to her already active and healthy life, Yvette credits her positive attitude to her ongoing wellbeing and understands that sometimes these things are out of our control.
“I always look at the glass half full and keep a positive outlook on things,” she says. “I mean you can do all the right things and it just depends on your genetics as well.”
“My mum, even though she broke her hip, she is still going, and she is 97. Different things affect you depending on your lifestyle, and you just don’t know what your chemical or genetic makeup is going to do.”
“I just focus on not doing anything that could cause any problems, and I do less DJ gigs with heavy equipment now!”
Yvette wants women around the country to learn from her experience, and to keep pushing if they think there’s something wrong.
“Every woman my age should be aware of their health, especially their bone health. And even if they’re not concerned, asking your doctor about a bone density scan could make all the difference.”
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.
If you’ve fractured a bone since turning 50, have a family history of fractures and osteoporosis, lost height, or experienced unexplained back pain, you could have osteoporosis. It’s serious but it’s also treatable. Ask your doctor about a bone density scan today. And say no to The Big O.