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Anne Glossop, UK

Anne Glossop

My history goes back to 1956 when I bent down to the oven and couldn't straighten up, pain was severe at the time but gradually eased. I was x-rayed and treated for some years as having osteoarthritis with little effect.

1969 Extreme pain in my neck and unable to turn my head. Xray showed crushed fractures of 4,5,& 6 vertebrae. Osteoporosis was still considered an ageing disease and palliative treatment only was available, though the consultant believed it was due to overactive adrenal glands and put me on valium. This continued for two years until I stopped the valium, as I did not want to become addicted.

1971 I was in Las Palmas and was thrown by a surfing wave on to the beach, resulting in a colles fracture.

1976 Lifting a heavy box I felt a painful bang in my back to find I had fractured T12 vertebra. I was in hospital six weeks as I was unable to stand.

1984 Referred to an endocrine ward where consultant was researching osteoporosis and was eventually prescribed HRT and a high calcium diet. I was apprehensive of HRT at first as I was then 70yrs of age. I was kept under surveillance having frequent blood, urine tests and x-rays and when a DEXA scan became available, I was scanned and repeated every year since.

1986 I was in New Zealand visiting my daughter, when without any warning I landed in the gutter, fractured my hip in three places and a nine inch split down the shaft. A pin and plate was inserted and from then on have been dependent on two sticks for distance walking, as I cannot take full weight on that leg.

1988 In April:Spontaneous fracture of T2 vertaebra; In August: Spontaneous fracture of T4.vertebra. No hospitalisation as vertebrae supported by ribs, but extremely painful with every movement.

1990 Ball of the joint of the same femur had slowly disintigrated and resulted in a hip replacement.

1991 Fell and fractured the lower end just above the knee of the same femur and a comminuted fracture of the opposite shoulder, for which I was an inpatient for nine weeks. I was housebound for several months having difficulty returning to my normal self. I went back to oil painting which helped me to relax and cope with the pain over those months.

In her work with the NOS, Anne had the opportunity to meet with Prince Charles

In her work with the NOS, Anne had the opportunity to meet with Prince Charles

1993 Lost my balance and fell backwards hitting the floor on my back. No ill effects until a couple of days later when I stood up to find I had no control over my hip replacement leg. It wasn't paralysed, I just couldn't move it, so I was just left standing. Luck, I was in stretching distance of the phone so rang the ambulance to take me to Casualty. To my astonishment I had a fractured pelvis, in front just below the hip joint so had dislodged the prothesis enough to immobilise my leg. I was kept in hospital a few days while my leg returned to normal and then discharged with a minimum of community care. Every step was excruciating and unlike previous fractures which were painful for the usual six weeks, this one took three months to heal and then I began to get some ease.

Then "Mr Motivator" as he was called came on to Breakfast TV with lively fun exercises, it was a time when people were being encouraged to be more active. Reluctantly I got up and holding on to the back of a chair followed the exercises at a slow pace and after a few weeks found that pain was diminishing and I was beginning to return to normal. When I got stronger I joined a lively aerobic class for over fifties, where stress was put on doing what was within your limits, which meant aerobics between two sticks, but I managed the routine in my own time. Living alone, it was beneficial to be with other people and in competition. I also went swimmung with a disabled group and was shocked to find I had to wear armbands, I had lost a lot of muscle power. Since then I have almost an obsession to keep active, firstly because I find mobility eases pain and stiffness and if somewhat limited keeps me in circulation, and in weaker moments have only to think of being confined to bed and chair with its isolation, to make me go through the pain to action.

Osteoporosis is a frustrating and demoralising disease and as everyone says, it alters your life completely, leaving your mind still eager to do the things you have been accustomed to, but prevented by your body.

2000 Woke one morning unwilling to move my head with the pain and grating in my neck. Persisted over 10 months and wearing a neck brace was the only way to keep my head still. It was a further collapse of 4/5 and 6/7 vertebrae causing the bones to rub on each other because of disc degeneration. It is still with me, but to a much lesser degree and I only wear the brace if acute.

Anne with granddaughter

Anne with granddaughter

Osteoporosis is a devastating disease, relentless in its power of insiduous destruction and in order to remain independent as long as I can, means constantly changing my way of life, making full use of all gadgets available and even improvising and keeping as active as possible. My walking distance has diminished considerably and I have now been issued with a three wheeled walking aid to save some of the weight bearing on my wrists and balance safety. I also have a scooter, kindly lent to me by the RAFA, which gives me freedom from the dependence of disabled transport, though too cold for me when winter temperatures are low.

Socially it is frustrating as you are unable to do many things with your grandchildren and everything has to be planned ahead, travelling gets less, even with help that is available and really it becomes a constant discipline to cope with all the difficulties aquired along the way, so infuriating when I have had a clean bill of health all my life and now so restricted by my bones. Body shape of curved spine and protruding abdomen so typical with loss of height is a further frustration as clothes are not from choice any more, it is a case of finding what will reasonably fit when above the waist you have lost, you need a size 14 but below a 16/18,. Seven inches less in torso means I now have to have a box cushion on the chair to keep my chin free of the table.

I am a volunteer at our local hospital and I find work in the offices therapeutic. I have disabled transport and it is a pleasure to be working for young people. They are very protective of me and appreciate the help as they are very busy in their offices, so clearing the simple jobs leaves them more time for their workload and living in flats for the old service veterans it revitalises me to be with the young.

2002 Coming home one day, the car sent for me was much too high to get into and before I could do anything about it, the driver lifted me under my arms with such force as I landed on the back seat. Forewarned I would have refused his help but it was so sudden and I was unaware that he was behind me. After a broken night with a painful shoulder I went to casualty and the X-ray showed extensive osteoporosis and neither they or fracture clinic could tell whether I had a crack or a fracture, so for the time being I am being treated as a crack in a sling, but to use my lower arm and particularly my fingers.

Up to date I had had fifteen fractures as between the ones listed there were fractured ribs, sternum, toes and one finger. I hope this letter will not only encourage all those people whose letters I have read, to continue concientiously with their treatment and to those who could be at risk, but are unaware, as we get no warning until too late, to meet middle age with bones as a priority to protect and prevent the disease. Until recently I had an information desk for disabilities at the hospital which over eight years gave me a wonderful opportunity to provide the National Osteoporosis Society leaflets and booklets and explain to patients passing through to the clinics the seriousness of osteoporosis, encourage them to think of prevention and tell them about the various treatments available.

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