Betty - Interview 31

Age at interview: 81
Age at diagnosis: 77

Brief outline: Betty was diagnosed in 2004 and was initially put on Fosamax but then changed to Pamidronate infusions every three months. She stopped her treatment for two years because she no longer was able to use public transport. Her new hospital is nearer and her daughter drives her there.

Background: Widow, retired secretary, lives on her own flat in sheltered accommodation. Betty uses herbal medicine extensively and has accumulated a great deal and knowledge about it.

Audio & video

Her back pain started three years prior to her diagnosis in 2004 when she just bent down to get something from a cupboard. Her pain seems to have been made worse when an unqualified osteopath manipulated her back. She also noticed that exercise and physiotherapy increased her pain. Betty says that her back problem has gradually got worse and her mobility has decreased over the years. Betty thinks that her arthritis has contributed to her disability not just osteoporosis.

Her diagnosis came about when she paid to have a whole body MRI scan done four years ago. She was referred to a rheumatologist and she was initially put on Fosamax but she suffered with very bad bloating and her treatment was changed to Pamidronate infusions every three months. Betty says that after each infusion she feels a bit rough and has noticed that her skin gets drier. 


In 2006 she stopped taking medication for two years because the hospital was too far and she no longer was able to use public transport. Recently she has moved to another hospital which is nearer and more accessible and her daughter drives her there.
Betty doesn’t have a maternal history of osteoporosis and the only risk factor that she can think of was triggered by her seventeen years of taking an anti-depressive drug called Tryptophan. She was diagnosed with a mental breakdown after her youngest son was born. She came off this drug by her own volition; no health professional offered any assistance. This whole experience has left her with not much faith in the medical service.
Her back has become increasingly painful and her mobility is limited. Around the house she manages with the help of a cleaner once a week who also helps with her laundry. She uses a computer and does her main grocery shop on line, once a week which she says is conveniently delivered to her kitchen. Also, twice a week her local Council provides a dial a ride service which takes elderly and/or disabled people to main supermarkets in the area.
Betty says that her diet has always been healthy with plenty of fruit and vegetables. At the time of her diagnosis she hadn’t been eating dairy products for ten years. Her diagnosis changed that but now drinks goat’s instead of cow’s milk.
Betty has used complementary medicine for many years; herbal medicine, Bach flower remedies, acupuncture, etc. She treats pain and other ailments with herbs and has acupuncture sessions every fortnight. Betty says that this technique helps her to relax and helps with the pain as well.
Betty is philosophical about her physical limitations and her attitude is to accept it and do what she can and make the most of it. For instance, she and friends go regularly to see the new productions presented at their local theatre.
She has a daughter who lives nearby and she is the one who takes her to her hospital and other medical appointments. Her grand-daughter also helps by taking her shopping sometimes. Her other children live in other parts of the UK.


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