Osteoporosis

David - Interview 37

Male
Age at interview: 25
Age at diagnosis: 23

Brief outline: David was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (re-diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis) at the age of two and on 2006, following a hip fracture, he was diagnosed with osteoporosis. He thinks that osteoporosis is the result of his arthritis and the long-term use of steroids. On alendronic acid once weekly and calcium two tablets a day.

Background: David lives at home with his parents and siblings. He recently finished university and now works full-time as a Customer Relations Administrator. He loves is independence that he says are facilitated by his car and wheelchair.

Audio & video

David has lived with arthritis most of his life. He was diagnosed when he was two years old and was put on steroids. Twenty-three years later he is still on steroids - a fact he finds distressing - but as he explains - it is because no other medication keeps his arthritis under control. There is no history of juvenile arthritis in the family but both grandparents developed rheumatoid arthritis in old age. And his grandmother developed osteoporosis at the age of seventy.
 
David was diagnosed with osteoporosis following a spontaneous hip fracture in 2006. He knows that his osteoporosis was brought on by his chronic illness and the long-term use of steroids. David says that because he developed arthritis at such a young age his growth, bones and muscles have all been affected by arthritis. David has had twenty-seven operations in twenty-three years - the main ones including knee and hip replacement, legs straightening and spinal fusion. His consultants have told him that he would need more vertebrae fusions in the future.
 
David was put on alendronic acid, once weekly and two tablets of calcium a day. He also has a DXA scan every six months. The scan results have indicated that his s bone density has increased by 17 per cent. Whilst he feels encourage by such results he is disappointed by the lack of information available for younger adults. He finds that the bulk of the information available is aimed to older people, reinforcing the misperception of osteoporosis as an ‘old age’ illness.
 
During his childhood and teen years he was in and out of hospital on a regular basis and missed a great deal of schooling. But despite this, David finished his GCSE's, did his A-levels and obtained a university degree. He says that disabled people find it particularly hard to find employment and therefore, he understood that he needed all his qualifications in order to improve his chances of finding a good job.
 
David is now working full-time for a local government as a Customer Relations Administrator. It is tiring but says that he loves work and wouldn’t like to be ‘stuck at home’ with nothing to do. His employer has provided him with all he needs including a ten hour support worker available through a government scheme' Access to Work. 
 
David makes the point that he is in charge of how he chooses to live his life. He manages his own medication, hospital appointments and because his home is fitted with special devices, he is able to do most things for himself, like having a shower, opening doors, etc. However, he is restricted to how much he can lift and therefore can't do certain things like cooking.
 
His family has always been there for him providing the practical and emotional support when needed but nowadays he tends to talk more to his friends about how he feels. He says it is just because he is older and also lucky to have a good bunch of friends. University and work have provided David with good friends and a busy social life.
 
For David his car and wheelchair are absolutely essential in enabling him to live his live as an independent young man. He paid for the wheelchair himself because the one offered by the local social services was for indoor use only. Learning to drive and getting a car has made a positive and significant impact to his life. David says that it would be really difficult to go to work by public transport and prohibitively expensive by taxi.   

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