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Cressida - Interview 01

Age at interview: 81
Age at diagnosis: 62
Brief Outline: Diagnosed in 1989; on alendronic acid 70 mg once weekly. In 2007, admitted into hospital for rehabilitation and pain control. She had physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and also commenced on a buprenorphine patch (for pain control). On oral glucocorticoid for asthma for about 26 years.
Background: Cressida lives by herself but her daughter who lives nearby visits her regularly. She describes herself as 'fiercely independent'. She needs help with cleaning the house and with washing her hair.

More about me...

Cressida was diagnosed in 1989 with osteoporosis following a vertebral fracture and over the years she has had around five or four more fractures of the spine. Her diagnosis read' Vertebral collapse-osteoporosis. In 2007 she was told that she has lost an inch and half in height. She was originally five foot four and half and now she is five foot. She is not happy about it but she doesn’t dwell on it.
 
At the time of her diagnosis she was looking after her late husband who was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the strain on her own health, Cressida was determined to look after him herself and only once and at the insistence of her GP she agreed for her husband to go into respite care but just for a few weeks.
 
Apart from osteoporosis, Cressida has several other medical conditions' osteoarthrittis, Sjorens Syndrome, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, aortic valve replacement and a right shoulder operation in 1999. She said ‘osteoporosis is the least of my problems’. 
 
In September 2007 she was admitted to hospital for rehabilitation and pain control. She complained of generalised pain, especially in pelvis and hip joints, thoracic and lumbar spine. She underwent physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and was also started on a buprenorphine patch. She says that the patches have significantly helped to control pain and her quality of life has improved significantly.
 

Diagnosed before current osteoporosis medication was available, Cressida was prescribed HRT and...

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Did you know much about osteoporosis at that time?
 
No not a lot. When I was about fifty, I think, I did take, have some little calcium pills. But actually at that time, apart from a HRT, I was put on to.
 
Anyway they were calcium pills that came in, in a long tube. And you put them in water and dissolved them.
 
And I tricked all the… I was it, I was on a hideously large amount like eight of them a day. So and they only had packages of twenties. I was in every five minutes. Luckily I didn’t have to pay for prescriptions because I’ve cost the national health an awful lot of money. Yes I have [laughs]. And I carried all around Australia in my backpacking time, I carried that, all that. But I cut it down to six a day then. Because that really… calcium is a heavy thing to have to lump around.
 
 
 

Cressida was told by her consultant that the day would come when she would need pain relief...

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I did everything before that I do now. But I must say pain is very warying.
 
So were you?
 
I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you something that will just answer all your questions I think. The word can’t doesn’t exist in my vocabulary
 
So you were doing things despite being in pain?
 
Oh yes. And but that’s the thing. When I was in the hospital, not last September, but the time before, which was about eighteen months or two years previous, and it was an outpatient appointment. And I said to [consultant name], he started writing, you know we had the conversation whatever it was. And then he started writing out the form, that one takes to the desk to make the next appointment. And he stopped writing and he said, “This is a ridiculous Cressida because I leave it to you when you feel you can’t cope, to ring up my secretary and we’ll have you in and see what we can to do help.” And I said, “[consultants name] you know that I am never going to say I can’t cope.” [laughs]. He said, “I know quite well that but I also know that I’m sad to say but the time will come when you can’t.” And last summer I really did think the time had come.  
 

Morphine patches have made a tremendous difference to the pain Cressida experiences.

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This, the interesting thing is that this, this patch, did you see about that patch? Do you know about patches?

 

Well patches have changed my life in a way that I didn’t they could. I started on the patches last September. And I think I must’ve had the first ones, more or less when I first went in which was the 6th of September. And I was discharged on the 28th. And I was quite… I felt quite sick. I never was sick. And I used to heave a lot.

 

And that’s why I was there for the three weeks to, to get the dose right. And they did experiment quite a lot, in getting the dose right. And then they came and they, it seemed I was more tolerant to it. And so I came home.

 

And I felt relief because I don't have anything like the pain.

 

Well it’s not just the walking because it’s the carrying too. I mean the walk, if you want to go for a walk… since the patches I can walk a little bit. But it’s you always have to think about the getting back. And if you walk to shop, there’s no way I could carry all that stuff.

 

So it had improved your …

 

Oh it’s improved it absolutely unbelievably. I think I’ll make the end of the year all right [laughs]. I absolutely… it’s a miracle as far as I’m concerned.
 

Moving to a new area in sheltered accommodation had restricted Cressida’s opportunities to be...

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No once a week [daughter] comes here.
 
And she bathes me from head to toe. Yes. And which is very nice, I like it a lot. And she rolls it up for me. And then whenever, we are due for a tidy up [laughs]. She and [name] fix a date because they have children at the same school and things and so.
 
And at the weekends what do you do?

 

At the weekends it’s not so good I must say. No I don’t really like the weekends. So it gets, well that’s Monday this week. Yesterday she came. She didn’t stay because she was in a bit of muddle. She hadn’t sort … yes, the children come to me on the Tuesday. Well she teaches a tap class to adults. So about four o’clock she had to go there and start teaching. So she the children get… yes after school rushed here in a hurry, she doesn’t come up. She just opens the front door for them and they come up here. And [daughter] picks then up. That was yesterday. Today is you. Tomorrow, oh yeah, [cleaner] a different day isn’t it? So this week is quite a different altogether. Tomorrow [daughter], will come to and I’m going, and take me to the nurse.
 
Oh and a dentist, I was going to ring [name] up wasn’t I? Oh, I’ve buggered that, oh well. And then and she’ll bring me home. The dentist too, I certainly hope. And the one that’s just rung me up, [name] downstairs, is having this mighty lunch party. And so I think she’s asked twelve people.
 
So you socialise with your neighbours in the building?
 
Well it has been rather disappointing actually this building.
 
Really?
 
Yes because one sort of thought before you came here, because I’m quite a sociable sort of person. And I’ve always been used to in, in [town] my front door was ever, my street front and was always open, from first light to dark. And so that was quite easy and people would drop in. In any case I lived there for whatever it was, amazing fifteen years, and so I knew a lot of people. And [husband] wasn’t dead. He died two months after I got up here. Yeah. But it… so. But it doesn’t socialise all that much here.  
 
I might feel a bit gloomy on some particular day.
 
Ah, yes, I felt very gloomy on Sunday of this week because it was Mother’s Day. And I thought perhaps my daughter would ask me to Sunday lunch. Because Sunday, they quite rightly have Sunday’s completely sacrosanct family days.
 
Which I think is perfectly all right. And God knows she’s very, very good to me anyway. So anyway, so I think the great thing about that is that she and I have always been good friends.  
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