Beryl - Interview 05

Age at interview: 72
Age at diagnosis: 69
Brief Outline: In her forties Beryl fractured both her wrists. In 2005 she was diagnosed with osteoporosis. She takes ibandronate (Bonviva) once monthly and Calcichew D3 Forte. She has pain in her neck and back and has restricted neck movement. Other conditions' diabetes and emphysema.
Background: Beryl is a retired factory worker; she lives alone and is restricted in what she can do around the house but a friend helps her.

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In her forties Beryl fractured both her wrists. In 2005 she was diagnosed with osteoporosis following pain in her head and neck. She takes ibandronate (Bonviva) once monthly and Calcichew D3 Forte. The intensity of her neck and back pain varies but her neck movement is restricted


Beryl has been smoking since age sixteen but says that she has reduced the number of cigarettes she smokes per day. She had pleurisy and her lungs have deteriorated over the years. She now needs to have oxygen every evening before going to bed. She is aware of the need to stop smoking but finds it terrible hard to do so. She has tried acupuncture, hypnotism, etc, but without success.


Beryl knows that cigarette smoking does a lot of harm but doesn’t think that it was a factor on her developing osteoporosis. Many years ago Beryl said she was misdiagnosed with having tuberculosis and was given a treatment which she blames for her ill health and the deterioration of her lungs. She can’t remember the name of the drug but describes it as “white tablets” that she soaked in water and took twice daily. After a year and a half of that treatment she saw another consultant who stopped that treatment immediately.


Beryl is restricted in what she can do, for instance she can’t do housework or gardening. She has a friend who comes around once a week and helps her with her domestic tasks and takes her shopping because she can’t lift or carry bags. Apparently, social services had not been contacted to assess her needs. Beryl relies on her elderly friends for practical help. She has a couple of good friends nearby and plays cribs once a week.


Beryl forgot she had had an x-ray and her physiotherapy session was postponed.

Have they referred you to a physiotherapist or not?
Oh funnily enough I went to a physio. I waited quite a while, about two or three months but I made a silly mistake, yesterday when I had to go. She said, “Have you had an X-ray on your neck?” And I, not thinking I said, “No”. So anyway she discharged me but I phoned up this morning to physio. I said, “Can I speak to [name]”. I said, “Because I made a mistake yesterday. It wasn’t until I got home and I thought, “You silly thing that’s how they found out you’ve got it”. So I left it, she wasn’t there so I left a message and I think she’s going to phone me up this afternoon.
So what happened you had to go back, you came back home?
Well she, she massaged my neck and everything, massaged it with cream and for a long time. But then she, I could kick myself. But we often make little mistakes like that don’t we [laugh].

Beryl has been trying to stop smoking for 20 years, but nothing has worked long term.

You have been smoking since when?
Yeah since I was about 16. I only smoke about eight a day now. But I do want to pack up altogether [cough].
You used to smoke more than eight before?
I probably did, probably about 10 or might even have been 15. I went for an acupuncture, I’ve had acupuncture done three times. The second time I didn’t smoke for a whole, nearly a fortnight. I didn’t even fancy one and I thought lovely, I’ve cracked it. And then all of a sudden I was gasping for one and I thought well one won’t hurt. That was the start.
So you would like to stop?
Oh I would give anyone £1000 if they’d get me to, could help me to stop.
I’ve been twice to the meetings they used to have, you know, the National Health got it up and I’ve had patches. I even had that last one that a lot of people, made them ill. Well it, they didn’t agree with me either. But I really would. You know the specialist said I’ve got to pack up so I’ve got to pack up [laugh].
So for how long have you been trying to give up?
Really the, about twenty odd years I’ve been trying, [pause] twenty odd years I’ve been trying to pack up.



But do you think that the smoking damaged your bones?
Personally no. I mean I’m not an expert so I don’t know but I think a lot of pills and tablets don’t do you any good. You, I think you can take too many of them.
In medications you mean?
Yeah. And most of the antibiotics I’ve been in the last few years haven’t agreed with me anyway, give me side effects.
So just last question about smoking why do you want to give up smoking? Why have you been trying for the last 20 years?
Well two reasons. The main one is my health and the second one is the cost.
So you know that smoking is damaging your health?
Yeah. I, I don’t believe a lot of that, what they say but I, it probably does do a lot of harm. I mean the people that come up to me, you know, and I’ve said I’m trying to pack up. They said, “Oh my sister died of cancer and she’s never smoked”. And most of the people I know that’s got breast cancer they’ve never smoked. So [ah] but I, I agree that it doesn’t do you any good.
And I would like to pack up and I think if I’d have packed up when I first tried to pack up what would my health be like now?
And now you need, you need to use oxygen every day?
Most evenings yeah, every evening I don’t go to bed without being on it for half an hour.
And what has the doctor said about your lungs, the condition of your lungs?
Well he said if I don’t pack up. You would think I’d, at least with, make me stop. It’s what I’ve had a go at myself about. And he said, “It’s going to be terrible for you. You won’t be able to swallow, you won’t be able to do nothing. It’s terrible.” He said, “You must pack up”. And he said, I went last week over to [hospital] and he was, he said, “You’ve got to pack up”.

Beryl has little appetite because of her stomach problems caused by the side effect of medication.

Now tell me about your diet. Do you cook regularly?
I’m cooking today because my daughter’s coming up. But I get some of those ready meals, sometimes I’ll cook. You know it all depends.
But on average would you say that you have more ready meals than?
No I think I cook more but I haven’t got no, I’ve lost my appetite. I can’t eat at the moment so I. That’s why probably I’m getting the ready meals because I make, not eating much at all.
How much energy? Well not a lot because I’m not eating. I’m not eating very well because I get a lot of problems with my stomach. You know I have sickness and that quite often. And I, I can’t eat anything.
Has the doctor given you anything for it?
I’ve got them boxes and
Well yeah something. But they don’t. Nothing seems to taste any good, you know what I mean? Everything seems to taste horrible. And the only things I like eating is sweet stuff and I’m not supposed to eat sweet stuff [laugh].
Tell me more about your diet. Ok you have lost appetite. How long ago?


Well put it this way, about eight years ago, nine. I was eleven stone. At Christmas I went, I was six stone. I’ve gone up a little bit. I’m just under the seven now but that’s a lot of weight to lose isn’t it from not actually on a diet. But sometimes I just have one potato and then I can’t eat. But then I’d like a pudding but you see I’m not supposed to eat sweet stuff. So I’m a loser all the way round [laugh].
What about drinking milk and eating cheese and eggs?
I don’t like eggs. I don’t like cheese.
And milk?
Not very keen on milk.
Ok and meat?
I’ve got, I used to love meat but I’ve gone off that. I’m like enjoying salads the more lately.
And what about fish?
I don’t like fish. I had kipper for breakfast.


That’s good. Every day?
No, no a lot of times I don’t have breakfast. Sometimes I’ll have porridge. I will admit sometimes I have porridge. Yeah because then I make it with milk as well. But I haven’t had that for two or three weeks. I’ll have to start on that again. See if that will build me up. Because I look in the photos and that now and I think, “Oh my god”! I don’t recognise myself.

Beryl’s 78 year old friend helps her with the shopping and gardening.

Well [name], a friend of mine, he comes up every day. He does my garden, mind you he’s 78. But he’s ever so good. We, he takes me shopping on a Friday and carries all my shopping. And he does a lot, he does a lot for me.
So he helps you with the shopping and gardening
Any, if there’s. Yeah any job in here.
So and if you in an emergency for instance if you are not feeling very well if you need assistance who do you call, your friend?
It’d probably be [name]. My sister used to live in [town] and it would have been her but she, she died three years ago. Mind she was nearly 80.
Your sister?
Yeah. And
Who else?
I’ve got a friend [name] but she’s 83. Nearly all my friends are my age you see. That’s the trouble.
I’ve got no one really. I thought it would be quite lonely if I never could walk from out this place because you can’t see anyone walk past your house.
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