Alice recalls how she found out she has osteoporosis.
Hello. I am Alice V. Roberts and I am an author, a speaker and an advocate for osteoporosis. I have osteoporosis and I am only 53 years old.
When I was 24 years old, I had a hysterectomy and I had my ovaries removed. I began breaking bones just a few years later and went to the emergency room for fractures.
Each time I went to the emergency room the doctors would ask if my husband was abusing me, and I would say no, and they would say, “If you would just be honest with us we can put you and your children in a safe place.” And I said, “No, I am not being abused.” And they said, “Well, we’ll have this conversation the next time you come back.”
Well, little did I know that I would be coming back with more fractures and each time I went back they’d say, “All right, do you want to admit you are being abused?” And I said no, because I am not. And then we moved from Cottonwood, Arizona, from Flagstaff, Arizona where we lived to Cottonwood, Arizona and I had suffered migraines so I had never had estrogen replacement after the surgery.
Once we had moved to Cottonwood my new family doctor said, “I have somebody, a physical therapist, who can help you with your headaches so I’d like to take you,” and suggested to be referred to him. I went in. I had a new patient form I filled out and X-rays were done, and at this time the therapist came out and said he would not touch me with a 10-foot pole, I had severe osteoporosis and I needed a referral to the Mayo Clinic.
So I went back to my doctor and I got a referral and I went to the Mayo Clinic. When I had my bone density and all my tests done on that day, my father and my mother and my husband had gone with me at the time. And when the doctor came in he was horrified. He did not look at the name of the patient or the age, he was looking at the test results.
He went over and he introduced himself to my mother and my mother said, “I am not the patient. She is.” And with that he was just speechless. He said I had the bones of an 80-year-old and I asked him how this had happened. He said because I had had a hysterectomy, which is the number one cause of osteoporosis, premature menopause, and because I had not had any estrogen replacement.
And I asked him why, no one told me this at the time, he said back then they did not know it. Research for that had not begun, and even if they had I couldn’t tolerate the estrogen.
So I then had a strict set of rules that I had to learn to live by and I began taking medications, and each time a medication came out, I took it. Sometimes I was the experimental guinea pig. They weren’t even available to the public. And none of them worked and we just kept waiting and waiting and I kept breaking more bones.
I have had helicopter rides, surgeries. I have broken every major bone in my body more than once. I have had compression fractures. I have lost three inches in height and I have so many hairline cracks in my spine that if I fall I am not allowed to get up. I have to have 9-1-1 with a full C-spine and cervical stabilization on my neck because if I turn the wrong way, even though I fell okay, it’s enough to make me a paraplegic or a quadriplegic.
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