Maria Grazia Pisu, 62, lives in Legnano, a town in the province of Milano, Italy. She was diagnosed with osteoporosis in 1994, after having taken cortisone for ten years. “Because I was young and I was taking daily doses of cortisone, my doctor decided to send me for a DXA (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan,” she explained. The DXA showed that the cortisone had already affected her bone mineral density (BMD). It was at that point that Maria Grazia was first prescribed one type of treatment for osteoporosis, which was later changed to another when she reached menopause.
Ever since I was diagnosed I have been taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, but I still ensure that I have a healthy and varied diet.
"Because I take anticoagulant therapy I have to watch what I eat, but despite this I don’t really limit myself in anything. My quality of life and my lifestyle hasn’t changed much,” she says.
Maria Grazia previously worked as weaver – work which is quite physcially demanding. In 1992 she therefore decided to become a homemaker and since 1994 she has been a volunteer for ALOMAR (Associazione Lombarda Malati Reumatici) and has continued to be active in the Association for more than 20 years.
Although Maria Grazia doesn’t practice any sports, she is constantly on the move. She travels to Milano at least three times a week and does all household chores alone, mainly because she has no one to help her.
I’m not always conscious of the fact that I have osteoporosis.
She admits, “Two years ago I moved a double mattress on my own and I broke a vertebra, and from then on I had to start taking new therapy. Now I don’t really live in fear, but without a doubt I'm more careful about how I move.“
Maria Grazia is very careful when using any form of crowded public transportation. She worries that someone will bump into her or step on her feet:
I break easily, in fact, I can break a rib after only a minor bump. I’ve broken my ribs several times and so I do pay some attention to this problem - but otherwise I lead a normal life.
Because rheumatism has caused deformation of Maria Grazia’s fingers, she consults physiotherapists who instruct her in safe movement. Thanks to this assistance she has managed to keep the problem under control. In fact, in addition to her work at the PC, she embroiders in order to relax. She has been shown how to keep her fingers in the correct position and therefore to avoid worsening the rheumatism. “Thanks to the instruction I manage to embroider better, without my fingers getting any worse,” she says.
One thing that was a problem was finding a dentist. After advising that she has been taking anticoagulant and osteoporosis therapy for many years, even the largest dentistry centers refused to treat her. Fortunately, she found a center in Milano that is experienced in treating dental patients with these health issues. Maria Grazia says, “This is a problem that many people with osteoporosis come up against. ALOMAR educates dentists so that they know about osteoporosis and how to treat patients with the disease. Nevertheless I think dentists are overly afraid, and in my opinion they aren’t receiving the right information.”
Maria Grazia also believes that young people should receive education about diseases like osteoporosis early on – rather than when the disease is already there. “If young people learned to lead a healthy lifestyle, including a correct diet and enough sport, they could avoid developing the disease.”