Joan - Interview 10

Age at interview: 73
Age at diagnosis: 69

Brief outline: Since her forties Joan has had several wrist fractures that were not investigated for osteoporosis. It was only when she fell and fractured both her arms that the diagnosis came about. She was put on medication; alendronic acid but due to side effects it was changed to Strontium ranelate.

Background: Joan is a widow with three adult children. She lived abroad and worked as a radio presenter and as a teacher. She does voluntary work and drives to the continent.

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At the age of forty Joan fell and had her first Colles’ fracture [type of wrist fracture] during a skiing holiday. She remembers that it took several months for her to recover. The second Colles’ fracture happen when she was sixty in the garden. Each time she developed Sudeck’s syndrome and her arm swells up and was very painful. She had a bone density scan privately done and it revealed that she was borderline. At this stage Joan began to take calcium tablets twice daily.
About four years ago she fell while walking her dog and broke both her arms. Following a scan she was diagnosed with osteoporosis and was started on medication. Joan lives on her own so she was in a community hospital for over two months where she had physiotherapy to help her regained some arm mobility. Both arms still hurt and she is restricted on what she can do around the house. She needs help with cleaning and gardening and the odd job around the house.
Joan says that after this fall she became afraid of falling and lost quite a bit of confidence. She saw an occupational therapist about how to better manage and found it very useful. It helped her regain her confidence with walking and balance. Joan has made changes to her everyday life for instance she does no longer go into the city centre but everyday goes to a park were she feels safe to go walking because of its even surface.
When first diagnosed she was put on Alendronic acid but she has a scarred oesophagus and had to stop taking it. She currently takes Strontium ranelate. Joan says that it is hard to remember to take medication everyday for which you do not see immediate benefits.
She has learned to use a computer and she orders her groceries as well as doing all her banking on-line and relies on a neighbour to get her cash.
Joan says that despite the changes she has made to her life she still has a very happy life; has good friends; enjoys her voluntary work and has supportive and helpful children. She says that she knows her limitations but she has a positive attitude and continues enjoying life.


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