First, let me get the good news out of the way. My recovery is going well, and the doctor cleared me for Mitchell. Fitness is snapping back, and I’m even relatively optimistic that I can do well. I will not be riding with a time in mind, but I think that based on my recent performances, I could do better than I hoped. Most likely I will be within the 8-10 hour range — slower than last year, but pretty strong given my recent injury battles.
We finally got the results from my bone scan. I suspected my bone density to be on the low side, but it still came in well below my expectations. According to the test, both of my femurs are in the osteopenic range. That means that if not improved, this condition could eventually develop into osteoporosis. As my doctor put it, this changes the dialog for the last several months. This was likely the underlying cause of the injuries, and also the likely culprit for some of the pain I endured during the recovery.
I have to give a shout to Hill Junkie and all my doctor friends who pushed me towards getting a bone scan. I had asked for one in the past, but it took some persistence to get the doctors to order the test.
The question is, what caused this? It is not normal for someone my age to lose bone density. I brushed off my laptop, and did some not-very-scientific internet diagnostics last night. Here are my conclusions:
1. No Weight Bearing Exercises. Cycling may be great exercise, but it is not great for bone strength. The doctor suggested running, walking or weightlifting. A friend suggested jumprope. I’ll be doing nothing at least for the next couple months while the hip continues to recover.
2. Diet Cola. My last remaining vice is that I drink way too many diet soft drinks. My daily routine is one in the morning, one at lunch, and sometimes one in the afternoon. If I’m feeling particularly sluggish, I’ll have one before I ride the bike. The average is probably 2-3 a day, which some recent studies have said can lead to hip deterioration. That’s a warning sign if I’ve ever heard one.
3. Thyroid Issues. A good friend of mine encouraged me to check some levels in my thyroid. I have had thyroid issues in the past, so this is a distinct possibility.
The next step is more diagnostics, and probably more supplements. I’ll be working again with my family doctor to determine my needs. There’s a chance I’ll need to see an endocrinologist.
The good news is that I caught this early. If this was a problem that went unnoticed, I would have a tough time when I turn 70.
In the meantime, I’ll continue riding my bike.