Laurence - Interview 07

Age at interview: 62
Age at diagnosis: 54

Brief outline: Diagnosed in 2003; was initially put on Didronel and then on Actonel and currently on weekly alendronic acid. He has doubts about the effectiveness of his medication. He suffers from severe back pain. Last DXA scan showed that he has three vertebral fractures. Recently he was referred to a consultant.

Background: Laurence works in a dairy farm, is married with two adult children. His mother had osteoporosis and his brother has the condition. He was thinking about early retirement or part-time work.

Audio & video

Back in 1987 he had a fall at work, an x-ray showed that his lower vertebra were wearing away. But his diagnosis came about only in 2003 after his brother – who had already been diagnosed with osteoporosis - suggested that Laurence have a DXA scan to find out if he too had the condition.
More recently, Laurence has been suffering from severe back pain but kept postponing seeking medical advice. He went to see his GP when the pain spread from the lower back to his upper back. A locum doctor at his practice noticed that he was two years overdue for a bone density scan and referred him for one. The DXA scan showed that that he has three vertebral fractures. He was then referred to the hospital to see a specialist. On that first occasion the consultant was unable to assess his medical situation because his medical records were incomplete. So he had to wait for another appointment while the consultant waited for the missing medical information. 
Despite his back pain Laurence continues with his full-time job on the farm. He says that the pain can hit him at any time' when he is standing up not doing any manual work, doing  physical activity and even when just sitting down and resting. At work when he feels the pain, he copes by leaning on something until it subsides and then he continues doing his physically demanding farm work. He says that he has a sympathetic boss who is willing to help.
In the meantime, Laurence takes pain relief medication and he is looking forward to having a treatment that could improve his quality of life. He says that living with pain can get you down and makes your feel depressed. He values his independence and doesn’t want to become dependent on others. He also wants advice about what he should do regarding his physically demanding job.
His wife who is fifty-five, also has a maternal history of osteoporosis and wanted to have a DXA scan but their family doctor declined her request on the basis that she is not sixty yet and hasn’t had a fracture. Laurence’s daughter who is in her thirties has also been told that she is ‘too young’ to have a scan. Laurence feels that his family is not receiving the advice and information the entire family needs from their doctor and says ‘it is all down to money isn’t it’.


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