Pat - Interview 32

Age at interview: 68
Age at diagnosis: 54

Brief outline: Diagnosed in 1994 after complaining of severe back pain. She is currently on Actonel (risedronate) but was first put on Didronel (etidronate) and then Fosamax once a week. Recent DXA scans revealed that her bone density has greatly improved.

Background: Pat is married, a retired nurse and has three adult sons. Pat has been very active on her local support group and has campaigned to change attitudes about osteoporosis and improve prevention.

Audio & video

In 1993 Pat was diagnosed with septic acute rheumatoid polyarthritis but despite treatment she continued having severe back pain. In 1994 Pat also noticed that she had lost six inches in height and a subsequent x-ray proved that she had three collapsed vertebrae and was told she has osteoporosis. Pat is on treatment for both conditions and has to take around twenty five tablets each day. For her osteoporosis she is currently on Actonel (risedronate) but was first put on Didronel (etidronate) and then Fosamax once a week. Recent DXA scans revealed that her bone density has greatly improved.
After being diagnosed with both conditions Pat went on to spent three years on a wheelchair but was determined to make herself walk again. She says that it took a lot of hard work to succeed. Occasionally she still gets flare-ups due to rheumatoid arthritis. Pat has restrictive mobility and feels that she is currently more affected by arthritis than osteoporosis
During those years when Pat was unable to walk her husband worked full-time and became her main carer. Together they worked out a system that enabled them to cope with the situation. For instance before going to work he would leave everything she needed including her lunch within reach and phoned her at lunchtime to make sure that she was fine. On her part, Pat will prepare the vegetables for their dinner. Pat’s main fear at that time was of falling when no one was around.  Social services provided her with part-time home help for two years.
Pat had her first DXA scan four years after her diagnosis in 1998 and since then has had around four scans in total. She has them done privately because none of the NHS hospitals in her city have a bone density scanner. She says that her PCT is only just now acknowledging that ‘there is a problem called osteoporosis’
Whilst housebound and on a wheelchair, her GP encouraged her to attend a meeting to set up a local branch of the National Osteoporosis Society. Following that first meeting Pat became very involved and served as its chairman for several years but step down due to poor health though she continues to be an active member. For Pat, participation in her local NOS group means company and the possibility to meet and talk to others facing similar challenges and experiences as well as campaigning to raise awareness and improve prevention. Pat also says that over the years the NOS Helpline has helped a great deal. As a trained nurse she had a bit of knowledge about the condition but says that most of her information has comes from her association with the NOS.
Pat had an earlier menopause at the age of thirty-nine but says that before that, she was missing periods since the age of thirty-two. Her mother wasn’t diagnosed with osteoporosis but Pat says that in those days the condition was hardly ever mentioned and people were ‘no aware of something called osteoporosis’.


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