Dennis - Interview 13

Age at interview: 59
Age at diagnosis: 55

Brief outline: Dennis was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2004. In 2007 his spine 'collapsed' and he had two operations. He has to wear a supportive back brace for the next nine months. Until recently he was on Pamidronate but his treatment for osteoporosis is under review. He takes Calcichew D3 Forte and cod liver oil and Co-codamol for pain relief.

Background: Dennis is married and has two adult children. He has had depression for over twenty year. He said he is very lucky because he has the support of his family, GP and consultants.

Audio & video

Dennis was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 2004 after he fell down the stairs and started to experience intense back pain. His GP acted swiftly and within a month Dennis was referred to a consultant, was diagnosed with osteoporosis and put on treatment. He was put on Pamidronate infusions every three months. His drug therapy is currently under review. Every year he is given a bone density scan (DXA).
In December 2007 Dennis underwent two major spinal operations. He said that the hospital consultants and surgeons told him that his spine had basically ‘collapsed’. The surgeon did was Dennis described as a ‘scaffolding’ operation. His consultants are hopeful that his spine will fused and he will be able to walk without the supportive brace.
His GP thinks that he was put on the wrong medication for his osteoporosis and that’s the reason his bone density deteriorated rather than increased during the period he was on Pamidronate. The GP wrote to the consultant about her concerns.
Following surgery Dennis is wearing a supportive back brace for up to a year. He also uses two walking sticks to aid himself around the house. He can’t walk far and when he goes to the shops near his house he needs to stop and rest several times along the way. Walking short distances is fine but standing up can become very painful. For instance he can’t standup and do the washing up and he limits gardening to half an hour before taking a rest.
He his philosophical about his present physical problems and said that he has coped well. Due to his depression he hasn’t worked for the last twenty years and thinks that somehow this has prepared him for his long convalescence and restrictions on his everyday life. He acknowledged that for someone with an active working life the physical problems and limitations he has endured may be more difficult to accept. The one thing that gets him down is his back, legs and knees pain. Having several rest periods in the day helps.
His depression is well controlled with his current medication. Plus the support from his wife, brother, sister-in-law and friends are helping him to cope very well with the medical troubles he is facing due to his osteoporosis. His wife has been his ‘rock’ throughout all the years he has battled with depression. Consultants have suggested that his osteoporosis might be linked to his medication for depression' Phenelzine and Olanzipine.
Until four years ago Dennis used to smoke up to sixty cigarettes a day. He gave it up because he was having chest pain and coughing a lot. He no longer has those symptoms.
Dennis can’t praise enough the care he has received from the health service. In his experience the hospital staff; consultants, surgeons, nurses, physiotherapist, etc, have all been as he put it ‘marvelous’ and ready to help him in any way they can. His own GP has been very, very supportive to him and his family. About his GP he said; ‘she fights my corner’.


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