Osteoporosis doesn't discriminate, says Edmonton man blindsided by diagnosis
'I tended to think of it more as being a women's disease'
Roger Wilkins didn't know men could suffer from osteoporosis, until he was diagnosed.
When his right knee, long weakened by arthritis, gave out, he fell on his kitchen floor and fractured his hip.
"I tended to think of it more as being a women's disease," said Wilkins, 83. "But it turns out that it really isn't, and a lot of men aren't aware."
According to Osteoporosis Canada, at least one in five men will suffer a broken bone from osteoporosis during their lifetimes, compared to one in three women.
While the disease — characterized by bone loss — is more prevalent among women, the outcomes can be more devastating for men.
Approximately 30,000 hip fractures occur in Canada each year, more than one-quarter of them among men. Proportionately more men than women die as a result of a hip fracture, and men are more likely than women to require care in a long-term facility afterward.
Even so, men are less likely to be assessed for osteoporosis or to receive treatment for the disease after they break a bone, Osteoporosis Canada said.
I realized the things I had taken for granted.- Roger Wilkins
Wilkins said he hopes his story helps raise awareness and encourages men to get their bone health assessed.
"I'm glad to be able to share my story, and hopefully it will help other men," Wilkins said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"You don't really know you have osteoporosis until you have a fracture or a fall, like I did, and that's really the only way men find out that they have it."
After surgeries to replace his right knee and hip, Wilkins was referred to the Osteoporosis Clinic at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, where he continues to receive treatment.
Wilkins said his initial diagnosis was unnerving. Once active with rugby, skiing and cycling, he wondered how the condition would affect his quality of life.
"I didn't realize how serious it could be or how it could affect my life," he said. "I realized the things I had taken for granted, now that I'm diagnosed."
You can look on the good side of just about everything.- Roger Wilkins
With medication and ongoing treatment, he is feeling stronger.
He occasionally relies on a walker or cane to keep him steady on his feet, but said his prognosis is good.
He can't ride a bike or play contact sports anymore but still exercises daily on his treadmill. He's more cautious now, because another broken bone could be devastating. But he refuses to put his life on hold.
His advice to other men? Stay active and be proactive about your personal health.
"That fall gave me an opportunity to review what my conditions were and to determine what kind of treatment was possible and necessary.
"You can look on the good side of just about everything, and certainly I think that's what we should do."