Iris - Interview 24

Age at interview: 60
Age at diagnosis: 59

Brief outline: Her diagnosis of osteoporosis was prompted by her being invited by the osteoporosis nurse for a bone density scan. The type of fracture she had was unusually severe for the type of fall she incurred and, her age. She takes Actonel 3mg once weekly and calcium tablets.

Background: Married; two daughters. Iris has recently retired and says that it is in denial about her osteoporosis because this was supposed to be her 'me time'.

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In December 2006 while on holiday in Ireland Iris fell and broke her arm and left shoulder. Her arm was put in a sling and she was given painkillers. She came back to the UK and went to the fracture clinic at her local hospital. She was x-ray and they told her that she had multiple fractures in her arm and shoulder and that she needed to have physiotherapy. She had physiotherapy sessions for twelve weeks.
Some time later Iris received a letter from a specialist osteoporosis nurse from the Rheumatology Department in the same hospital who invited her to come for a bone density scan. The nurse explained that one of her tasks was to go through the records of patients her age who have sustained severe fractures. The bone density scan revealed that one hip was osteopenic and the other osteoporotic.
After her diagnosis a series of tests were done to establish her overall state of health. She was found to be low on D3 and was given a bottle of Calciferol to be taken within two days. The nurse also wanted to start her on treatment. She suggested an intravenous injection called ibandronate 3mg once every three months. Iris declined that medication because she was concerned about the side effects. The specialists nurse told her that she would experience flu like symptoms at the start of the treatment. Iris had suffered from severe anaemia for years and didn’t want to feel more exhausted or ill. Her GP started her on an oral medication; Actonel (risedronate) 35 mg once weekly and calcium tablets.
Iris saw the specialist osteoporosis nurse three times and now she is under the care of her GP surgery. Iris is not totally happy with the care she receives for her osteoporosis. She explained that now it is just a question of repeat prescriptions but there is no proper doctor-patient communication about it. She describes her GP as lovely and helpful but feels alone when it comes to osteoporosis care. There is no one regularly checking on how she is doing or to ask questions to.
About her condition she says that she is doing everything she can to prevent any deterioration but would like specialist advice.
There is no maternal history of osteoporosis and Iris thinks that her condition was caused by heavy smoking. She used to smoke forty to sixty cigarettes a day until the age of forty.
Her feelings about osteoporosis are those of being in denial. She has recently retired and felt that this time was suppose to be ‘me time’.


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