Gisela's story - BC Coalition of Osteoporosis Physicians

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					Gisela shared her story with the BC Coalition of Osteoporosis Physicians (BCCOP) because she
wants to share her experience and maybe prompt others to get educated about osteoporosis in
their lives. The BCCOP is asking the Government of BC to update its medication reimbursement
policy so people like Gisela can access the right treatment options for their life. Gisela wants
people like her to stay healthy and active longer and get the right treatment before they break a
bone, not after.

Gisela’s story:

A few broken bones didn’t seem very unusual to Gisela – even her doctor was not overly
concerned. At least, not until Gisela was more educated about what these repeated fractures
might imply.

In fact, it was not her family doctor who first raised concerns about her seemly “soft” bones; it
was a chiropractor she frequented that first called attention to how Gisela’s bones seemed to
be getting brittle. Her chiropractor recommended that she start taking some vitamins and
minerals (like Vitamin D, magnesium and calcium) to help her maintain strong and healthy
bones. Gisela dutifully started a vitamin regimen, but it was not enough to stop the disease that
was attacking her skeleton.

Just in her early 50’s Gisela hadn’t much thought about osteoporosis “I felt like I was too young
to be concerned.” It was in conversations with her mother and older cousins, where she first
heard more about the disease and decided to get more educated. Her mother, her aunt and an
older cousin were developing spine deformation as a result of the progressing disease, and as
Gisela learned more about the pattern of fractures and history of osteoporosis in her family,
she got very concerned about her own health.

Gisela decided to visit her family doctor and asked to be tested for her bone mass density. Her
doctor was not initially willing to do the testing. Gisela remembers, “When, at age 55, I did get
the testing completed and the results came back, I had very, very serious osteoporosis (spine
-4.1; hip -4.5). My doctor was amazed my spine hadn’t collapsed already, it was hard even for
him to believe that at such a relatively young age, osteoporosis had progressed so far.”

Due to the seriousness of disease, Gisela was immediately put on medication that helped to
maintain the bone mass she did have. Gisela started to research and educate herself about
osteoporosis and what she could do to stay healthy. She got active right away and started
taking charge of being good to her bones. She diligently takes her medications, gets lots of
healthy exercise, pays for extra bone density scanning and integrates vitamin and mineral
supplements into her diet.

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“My mother had serve osteoporosis, and one day she slipped in my kitchen and ended up
breaking her hip. She had been a very independent, active woman, and mentally very sharp,
living on her own well into her 80’s. After the hip fracture, she wasn’t ever really the same. She
lived 15 months after the fracture, but needed constant support, care, and assistance. I don’t
want that for my future. I want to not just live a healthy life, but enjoy a healthy and active life
for a long time, and I am going to do everything I can to keep my bones strong and supporting
me!” says Gisela.

Even doing the best she can for her health, Gisela has to constantly monitor her bone health.
Having options for treatment is really important to her, because the medications to help save
her bones are not always kind to other parts of her body, and sometimes, different treatments
have to be tried before Gisela and her doctor find a combination that works.

After years on many different medications, her body was not responding as well as it used to,
so Gisela and her doctor had to look at other options. A new medication that could make a big
difference is very expensive, so Gisela continues to explore less expensive options which may
also have positive results. She is on a treatment plan now that she hopes will stave off a more
expensive intervention in order to keep improving her bone health. “I want to live a healthy,
active life. Right now I am dancing four or five times a week and take regular walks. I hope that
by taking an active part in staying healthy I have many more dancing nights to come.”

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