The Faces of Osteoporosis
Edith, Age 71
I am a retired registered nurse. I was born and grew up in China. Through my work I have seen patients with severe osteoporosis, some of whom got fractures while they were sleeping.
Being Chinese, I know that the Chinese don’t like to drink milk. So our calcium intake is very poor. Most Asian women like to avoid sunlight in order to keep our skin soft and white. These attitudes contribute to our vitamin D level being low. I myself am tall with thin bones. Therefore, I know osteoporosis will get me sooner or later.
In September 1984, I fell and broke my leg and as a result had my first bone-density test. I was surprised to find out that osteoporosis had started on me so early. I was only 50 years old. I started taking calcium and exercising. Ten years later I had another bone-density test. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The result was worse than ten years ago, even though I had been taking calcium supplements and exercising. My doctor prescribed hormone replacement therapy six years later, and my bone density then showed some improvement. Since hormone therapy may cause some side effects later on in life, my doctor suggested a change. In 2003, I started to use drug therapy and calcium together, and I have continued this therapy to the present.
I am now retired, which gives me a lot of time to exercise. I play table tennis three times a week. I also do Lu Tung Kuen, a Chinese exercise, daily, and teach Lu Tung Kuen twice a week. As if that weren’t enough, I walk and go to the whirlpool.
After I joined the volunteer group, Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education (FORE), I learned to take calcium fifteen minutes after meals and only 500–600 mg each time. I also learned that our bodies cannot absorb excessive doses of calcium. I am very glad that FORE can constantly teach me new knowledge about osteoporosis and I can share this information with others. I hope by learning more about this disease, I can prevent its further progression both for me and for others.