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Inger Lundegaardh, Sweden

June 1998

A series of photos of Inger Lundegaardh show how osteoporosis transformed the body of a beautiful young woman of 20 into a hunched woman of 59. Mrs Lundegaardh lived a typical active Swedish life – she taught secondary school, enjoyed gardening and spent summer holidays on an island in the Baltic Sea. "Osteoporosis interfered with my life 11 years ago," she says. "After playing tennis for an hour my arm started to ache. I did not go to the doctor, thinking that it was a small problem and that the arm would heal by itself. Eventually I had an X-ray which showed that the arm had been broken."

Inger Lundegaardh as a young womanInger Lundegaardh today

"The real problems started soon after." Within six months Mrs Lundegaardh had broken her thigh bone three times. The first fracture occurred after cycling and the second after walking. The third fracture was a direct result of an "unskilful" operation, after her "skeleton had already become very, very brittle."

Her husband, Lennart, who was then science editor of Svenska Dagbladet, a leading daily newspaper, arranged a bone density exam, which led to the diagnosis of osteoporosis, long after the first fracture. Six years ago surgeons inserted an artificial hip. She has lost 22 cm in height. "My daily life has changed completely," Mrs Lundegaardh says. "I now walk with two canes. I can't bend down and I'm constantly in pain. I cannot carry things and therefore cannot go shopping. I miss my active life, very very much." "The worst thing about osteoporosis is that I have lost so much height that when I go to a concert or to a restaurant I have to sit on a special cushion."

December 2001

In 1999, Mrs Lundegaardh fell at home. "I stayed in bed for one night and half a day pretending that it would be okay. Finally the ambulance came and I was taken to hospital. The doctors replaced my artificial hip and also operated on my other leg." Mrs Lundegaardh, 63, and her husband go 'stick walking' three times a week. "It means huffing and puffing but my breathing improves from the exercise." While acknowledging that awareness of osteoporosis has improved, she feels much more needs to be done. "In a town in the southern part of Sweden the head of the orthopedic department was asked why he never used the bone density scanner. He replied 'we haven't had time or resources to use it.' I wonder how many patients he and his colleagues will send into great pain and poor quality of life." Mrs Lundegaardh, member of the board of the Swedish Osteoporosis Patient Society has this advice for other women: "If you think you need a bone density test, don't leave your doctor's office until he gives you what you demand."

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