Maria Luisa Corbetta, 66, lives in Milan, Italy. In 1988, after the birth of her third son, Maria Luisa was affected by rheumatoid arthritis. As a result she began taking cortisone treatment over a period of more than 20 years.
“It was probably the cortisone that damaged my bones,” she explained, and then described how her doctors discovered that she had osteoporosis.
“Before I decided to retire in 2007, I worked at a nursing home as head of personel and payroll. Shortly after retiring I suddenly developed ‘blocked feet’ – a peripheral neuropathy. That was the beginning of visits to various clinics in an effort to find a cure. Although I found a biological compound which helped both my foot problem and the rheumatoid arthritis, my previously ‘silent’ osteoporosis then made itself apparent.”
It began when, in 2010, Maria Luisa fell from her bed. Although the bed was not very high, she suffered two cracked ribs as a result of the fall. At the emergency room, she was given a body brace to wear for 3 to 4 months. That’s when diagnostic tests showed that she had developed osteoporosis and, as a result, treatment to curb the bone loss was initiated. For two years Maria Luisa gave herself daily injections and it appears that this has had some benefits. After two years she stopped daily treatment and is now getting an injection every six months.
Maria Luisa also began paying more attention to her lifestyle and diet. For example; she stopped smoking, she eats fruits and vegetables regularly, and she takes nutritional supplements, including vitamin D. Always an avid swimmer in the past, she still swims three days a week whenever possible. She has newly discovered that yoga really helps and attends a local yoga class once a week. “When I leave my yoga class I truly feel like I’m flying, and I don’t feel pain of any kind.”
Unfortunately, a second fracture occurred in 2012 when Maria Luisa fell in the pool and broke her shinbone (tibia and fibula). During surgery, a special metal plate and screw were inserted. “Despite this I still manage to keep moving pretty well all day and I am able to handle all my personal commitments. In fact, I have three sons, a grandson, and a mother who is 94 years old, and they keep me very busy.”
“I’m still a little afraid when I move, but I’ve learned to take extra care by moving in specific ways.
For example, when I bend I no longer bend the same way I used to before I developed osteoporosis. I’m also careful when doing household chores. When I iron I no longer do everything in one go, but do it bit by bit. Let's say that I’ve had to learn how to handle myself, because otherwise I would not have been able to keep up. I know that I am a bit 'irresponsible’ and don’t think too much about the disease, although obviously if there is a problem one does have to confront it.”
Following her experience, Maria Luisa advises others to “start eating healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables when you’re young. Get enough sun exposure because it is good for the bones, and above all, practice sports. If I hadn’t been a swimmer I probably would not have been able to solve many of the problems that have come with this disease.”