Age 71 • India
Dr. Harbinder Brar, 71, was born and raised in the Patiala district of Punjab, India. She graduated from the Rajendra Medical College and Patiala Hospital.
After graduating she joined the Short Service Commission (Indian Army). It was her father’s dream that she take up a medical profession. After her release from the Indian army she joined the Punjab Civil Medical Services and retired in 2007 as the Director Health Services Punjab.
During her tenure she was also posted in Ropar, Punjab, for four years at which time she was diagnosed with celiac disease. After few years she also developed diabetes and was treated with medication at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGMIR), Chandigarh, India. There had been no prior history of medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.
Celiac disease has been found to be very common in Asians. It is a concern because Celiac disease can be a secondary cause of osteoporosis.
After 2007 Dr Brar started visiting the hospital for regular follow up examinations. During this time she starting feeling pain in her lower back and around the left hip joint - which she attributed to travelling for long periods of time and traffic jams. It was in 2009 when a physician, Prof. Sanjay Bhadada, suggested that she have several tests – as a result she was diagnosed with osteoporosis.
This was definitely a shock for her and her family.
“Though I was very disheartened to hear that I had such a disease – especially because I had no symptoms and led a really active life – I was very determined that I would fight it and not let negativity affect me!” she says.
After the diagnosis, her treatment continued in PGIMER and Prof. Bhadada advised her to take all her medicines and supplements on time and leave the rest to the medical team. “I was relieved upon hearing this" she added. Since then she has been taking all the precautions and has adapted to a new lifestyle.
Her daily routine, as earlier, is very busy. She gets up in the morning and goes for a walk with her dog. She also works as a medical professional at the Charitable Dispensary, Kharar, Punjab. She loves gardening and playing cards. Twice a year she travels with her family for vacations. There have been no side effects or consequences of the disease apart from a little fatigue, subject to long strenuous activity or work, which she feels is quite normal for anyone.
Knowing that falls prevention is essential for anyone with osteoporosis Dr Brar takes special care. “I make sure that the floors of my room and washroom are dry, I wear anti-skid slippers and ensure that there are no obstructions in the hallways”, she says.
Finally, she recommends taking necessary precautions and maintaining a good lifestyle to fight against osteoporosis and lead a happy life.
With the proper care and precautions one can maintain good health and prevent the main side effect of osteoporosis – broken bones. It has been 13 years now and there have been no complications in her case – in large part because she rigorously followed her medication schedule and the advice of her physician.
Dr Brar advises others: “Report to a doctor immediately if you feel any symptoms, do Pranayama in the morning, some stretching and balancing, take your medicines on time and follow a proper diet.
Most importantly have a positive attitude towards life and there is nothing to worry about!”