BED-RIDDEN FOR YEARS

Osteoporosis, a rare bone disease that has left a family impoverished

Osteoporosis may limit mobility, which often leads to feelings of isolation or depression.

In Summary

• Osteoporosis is a bone disease caused mainly by lack of certain hormones, particularly estrogen in women and androgen in men

• Being cleaned makes Vicky Kiio uncomfortable, especially when that is done by her son after house helps can no longer cope and leave 

 

Vicky Kiio at her home in Thika. The once bubbly teacher suffers from a rare bone disease.
BED-RIDDEN: Vicky Kiio at her home in Thika. The once bubbly teacher suffers from a rare bone disease.
Image: MERCY MUMO

 

 

 

Vicky Kiio was until 2015 effusive, vivacious and full of life.

Then all of a sudden things took a turn for the worse after the bubbly teacher realised that she had osteoporosis, a bone disease caused mainly by a lack of certain hormones, particularly estrogen in women and androgen in men.

"I was with my son that day. I felt the pain when I was trying to get in my car. The pain persisted and my son rushed me to hospital. The hospital discovered that I had a broken leg and hand. I was treated and discharged," Vicky narrates.

With time the disease got worse. She could hardly walk and even sitting was a problem. She has been bedridden for four years. Since then, hardly any of those she associated with understands what she suffers from.

The disease started as a minor pain on a leg and hand.  Initially, Vicky was operated on twice. Thereafter, it has been surgery after surgery in various hospitals –  MP Shah, Kijabe and Kikuyu.

It was at MP Shah that an endocrinologist discovered that she had a problem with thyroids.

 

 

 

An old photo of Vicky Kiio before she became ill
An old photo of Vicky Kiio before she became ill
Image: MERCY MUMO

Vicky associates her condition with some demonic powers. She says it is not normal to be healthy one moment and then seriously sick and bedridden the next moment.

"I lost my husband in 2010 and immediately my brother-in-law came and took everything from us, claiming that he was the beneficiary of the property.

"We started a court case to reclaim the property. We won the case in 2015 and immediately I became sick," she said.

She added, "Everyone around me cannot understand the kind of disease I am suffering from. There must be demonic powers involved."

Vicky would like to turn back the clock and return to her normal life. She describes herself as someone who was full of life until 2015 when things took a u-turn. 

As a bedridden person, she has many challenges. Everything has to be done for her and many people are not patient.

The disease has affected her psychologically. She has to be cleaned by different people. Being cleaned makes her uncomfortable, especially when that is done by her son after house helps can no longer cope and leave.

And doctors say that they cannot perform any more surgeries on her.

She is also financially constrained. Some drugs cost as much as Sh500 per tablet.

She says the disease can be cured locally at a cost of Sh2 million and Sh3-4 million in India.

She appeals for well-wishers to reach her through the Star.

According to doctor Ethel. S. Siris, osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Viewed under a microscope, healthy bone looks like a honeycomb but when osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in a healthy bone.

Osteoporotic bones have lost density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structure.

Some of the symptoms are back pain, caused by a fractured or collapsed vertebra, loss of height over time, a stooped posture and a bone that breaks much more easily than normal.

As bones become less dense, they weaken and are more likely to break. If you’re 50 or older and have broken a bone, ask your doctor or healthcare provider for a bone density test.

Some patients lose height due to a stooped or hunched posture. The condition may limit mobility, which often leads to feelings of isolation or depression.

Twenty per cent of old people who break hips die within a year from either complication related to the broken bone itself or the surgery to repair it. Many patients require long-term nursing home care.

Taking steroid medicines as pills in a dose of 5mg or more for three or more months can increase the chance of bone loss and developing osteoporosis.

Talk with your healthcare provider about taking the lowest dose for the shortest period of time for your condition. If you need to take steroid medicines for longer than this, you should take steps to prevent bone loss.

While taking steroids, it is especially important to get enough calcium and vitamin D. It’s also important to exercise and not smoke. 

Osteoporosis cannot be reversed completely but it can be managed. Some of those methods are things you can do every day through diet and exercise. 

The body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. With osteoporosis, new bone creation doesn't keep up with old bone removal.

Many people have no symptoms until they have a bone fracture. 

Women, especially those older than 60 years of age, are frequently diagnosed with the disease. Menopause is accompanied by lower estrogen levels and increases a woman's risk for osteoporosis.

Treatment includes medication, a healthy diet and weight-bearing exercise to help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.