Gill, 53

From Tayside

I was diagnosed with osteoporosis at 43.

I had my first 'unrecognised' spinal compression fracture when I was 30. I'd been water ski-ing while on a day off from a singing contract in Dubai. I fractured my back several times after that but osteoporosis was only picked up because I'd had fractured toes, 10 toes over 6 years- the last being a corkscrew fracture that I'd had checked out and strapped up in hospital. When it didn't heal after six weeks my doctor sent me off to the hospital for a dexa scan plus more detailed scans. Sadly, I was informed that I had the bones of a 72 year old. It was quite shocking at the age of 43 to be told that. I was put on a biphosphonate drug, Alendronic acid for five years which made me feel nauseous and weak. The medication badly affected my digestive system, oesophagus and larynx through silent reflux. My singing voice disappeared and I talked huskily. I have just had a 3 year drug holiday.

I've recently been re-assessed and having gone through the menopause a year ago my bone density has decreased further, significantly unfortunately. Since then I have been given my first Denosumab injection. I'll be given them at six-monthly intervals for three years. I've had no ill effect at all since this injection six weeks ago, thankfully.

Osteoporosis impacts my day to day life, I can't walk as well as I used to, I carry a walking stick now and have to plan where I'll be going more than I did when I was fit. After three hours out of bed, back pain increases and I find I have to lie down often for a while just to ease it. I have some exercises that I do that help me get back on my feet, sitting still is not the answer. I have an inversion therapy table that I use to great effect. After lying with my feel elevated and my spine stretched I feel glorious temporary relief and the good news is this stops me taking painkillers at home.

No one thought that at that age my fractures might be due to osteoporosis even although my mother had suffered badly the condition. In her late sixties she had a fracture in the long bone of her leg simply as she was walking and had to have a pin inserted. Sadly she was one of the 20% of patients with this type of break to die within one year of the operation.

My doctor, knowing my family well, remembered about my mother's last year. That, along with slow healing of my broken toes helped get me properly assessed. I may well have been overlooked at that time by a less astute doctor because of my age.

I stay close to home helping out with editing projects within our small family film company but don't perform on stage or tour any longer after being a professional singer for 30 years. Happily I'm sometimes asked to provide backing harmonies at the recording studio side of 'Redbarn' which I do willingly - given a few tries!