I can break a rib every time I sneeze: Mother reveals how she has broken her brittle bones 205 TIMES
I hate it when people mistake me for a child, says 3ft9″ motherKay broke her first bone on the day she was born
12:09 GMT, 26 March 2012
At 3ft9″ Kay is not much taller than her six-year-old son Lewis
When Kay Tate arrives at her son's school each afternoon she's just another mother waiting at the playground gates. But when her son Lewis rushes outside to meet her he knows he has to be careful – because at 3ft tall he is only nine inches shorter than she is.
'He's very active but he instinctively
knows he can't be too boisterous around me,' Kay said.
'It's tricky though because
he thinks because he's nearly my size that makes him a grown-up!'
Kay, 25, from Newcastle, has a severe form of Osteogenesis
Imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bones disease. The
hereditary condition means her body doesn't produce enough collagen –
the 'cement' that provides bones with strength and flexibility. Without sufficient levels the bones develop holes and fracture
It means Kay can break a rib just by sneezing or if a friend hugs her too tightly.
'When I was 22 my friend cuddled me and
it broke one of my ribs. She was mortified but I thought it was funny. I
have to accept I can't stop things breaking,' she said.
Ms Tate's positive attitude can't disguise the fact she is almost
constantly in pain and only finds relief when lying in a hot bath.
'It''s mind over matter,' she said.
'I've always had it so I've never known any different. I cope with it because there's no other choice.'
She admits she finds it
frustrating having to ask friends to help her every time she need to go to
the supermarket as she can't risk carrying anything heavy.
must think ahead all the time about possible hazards. If it's icy then I
can't walk or if there's a slippery floor I need to use my wheelchair,' she added.
She also finds clothes shopping 'terrible' as she wears the equivalent to a child's size age six.
'I want to dress like everyone else so I often buy tops at River Island and wear them as dresses,' she said.
'But I can't wear heels in case I
Kay must also deal with upsetting encounters with thoughtless strangers.
She said: 'I was once at a cash point and the woman behind me was really close, so I looked around and asked her what she wanted.
'And she said “oh sorry, I thought you were playing with it.” She thought I was a child.'
Kay has learned to adapt to her condition and says she is determined to live her life 'properly.' The whites of her eyes are tinged blue, which is another sign of brittle bones
Kay broke her first bone on the day she was born, after she suffered a femur fracture during delivery. Both her mother and sister have less severe forms of the condition so doctors quickly realised she had brittle bones.
She was wheel-chair bound until she was 14 because every time she tried to walk she would break something. However, she finally managed to start walking after having physiotherapy every day at school. Despite her difficulties Kay was never bullied at school.
'I was brought up to feel no different from anyone else so I was never insecure or embarrassed about my condition,' she said.
This determination to live her own life led her to make the risky decision to have a baby when she was 19.
'Everyone told me not to consider having a baby but I just knew I could manage it,' she said.
I became pregnant some family members were so scared for me they asked
me to consider an abortion but I would never do that.
I was 27 weeks I fell over and broke my leg so had to stay in a wheel
chair. But it wasn't until 35 weeks that I had an elective caesarean at
the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
'Because Lewis was premature he had to go to intensive care for two weeks before I could take him home.'
Doctors had warned Kay not to become pregnant but she said she 'knew' she would be able to cope
Ongoing battle: Kay has experienced frequent fractures since childhood (left) her latest operation fixed a plate to strengthen her right thigh bone (right)
After three months doctors said Lewis had not inherited her condition.
I'm older I would only have another child if I could be sure they
didn't carry the defective gene,' Kay said.
Life with brittle bones and a child has proved something of a challenge for Kay.
he was 18months I couldn't pick him up any more so if he cried I would
sit with him instead. I had to tell family not to pick him up or he
would expect it all the time,' she said.
had to adapt. Instead of lifting him into the buggy I would ask him to
climb in. He also learned early on how to stand on a block to get
himself a drink.
'/03/26/article-2115971-1256CFC5000005DC-108_634x489.jpg” width=”634″ height=”489″ alt=”Kay following her osteotomy in July 2011. It will take her body at least 18months to heal” class=”blkBorder” />
Kay following her osteotomy in July 2011. It will take her body at least 18months to heal
Kay has undergone a number of operations to treat her condition. Most recently she had an osteotomy, which is to be featured on Channel 4's documentary series Embarrassing Bodies tonight.
'I had broken my femur (thigh bone) 30 times and it had healed in a crooked position so last year doctors deliberately broke the bone and straightened it before putting in a plate,' she said.
'This should fix it in the right position. It is healing slowly but it takes me at least twice as long as normal to recover.'
Despite all her setbacks Kay, who is an ambassador for the Brittle Bones society remains bubbly and upbeat.
'I just think there is always someone worse than you,' she said.
'I won't die from this condition and I've learned there is no point not living my life properly as something will always break anyway. Six months ago I sneezed and broke a rib!
'You might as well get a fracture from doing something exciting.'
EMBARRASSING BODIES IS ON CHANNEL 4 AT 9PM TONIGHT