China's population in the past ten years has seen its population over 65 years of age grow from 5% to over 7% of the total population. By the year 2010 that number could be around 10%. China by that time could have over 150 million people over 65 years of age. That will be half of the total population of the United States in the year 2010. That will be an amazing number of older people and the number of older people will continue to increase to the year 2020 to 2030. China already has the largest relative and absolute number of older people of any country in the world. One of the problems China will face during that time will be the problems of hip fractures in elderly women. The problem will not be in younger woman or older men, though a few people in these groups will have hip fractures, but in elderly women. Why will this be such a big problem for China in the coming years?
Xiao Zhou Mei was 73 years old and was going down some steps. She tripped and fell down to the bottom of the stairs. She immediately felt some pain in her right hip. The pain was intense. A neighbor heard her fall and came to see her and help. He tried to help her up but the pain in the right hip was too much. Xiao Zhou Mei's friend called an ambulance and she went to the local hospital. There an X-Ray showed a fracture of the right hip. An orthopedic surgeon was called and he recommended immediate surgery to repair the hip. By that time Xiao Zhou Mei's family had arrived. She had three children. Two lived in the same city with her. They asked the doctor some questions so that they could better understand what was happening.
The first question they asked was why this had happened so easily? All people fall and their mother had fallen before. The doctor explained that after 30 years of age all women in the world have a slow lose of calcium from their bones. Then after menopause, when women stop having their menstrual periods, the ovaries stop producing estrogen. It is estrogen, which up to menopause, keeps the bones of most women strong and full of calcium. With less calcium present after menopause, the bones start to loose calcium at a much faster rate. In several years the bones become much more brittle and thus can break easier. Thus when women who are older fall, they can break their bones much easier.
The doctor went on to say that the darker the skin of a woman the less likely her bones are too break. This is because the darker skinned a woman is the less likely they are to loose calcium after menopause. Thus women who are from Africa have the lowest chance of having breaks in their bones, while woman from Northern Europe have the greatest likelihood of breaking their bones. Asian woman, like Chinese women would be in the middle between European and African women.
The doctor also told Xiao Zhou Mei's family that smoking makes it more likely that a person will loose calcium quicker. Less exercise also will cause a woman to loose calcium quicker. Women who have had a stroke and cannot move much are more likely to loose calcium quicker. Finally, very small, thin women are more likely to loose calcium quicker.
Xiao Zhou Mei's children then asked the doctor about the surgery. What are the risks in surgery? The doctor told them that since Xiao Zhou Mei was generally healthy that her risks were low. During the surgery all the doctor was going to do was replace the head of the broken hip with an artificial hip. After the surgery Xiao Zhou Mei should be able to get up and walk in several days. In fact the doctor said, getting up and walking will be one of the most important aspects of the recovering after the surgery.
The family then asked the doctor how she should do after the surgery? What would happen if she did not have the surgery now and wait? The doctor told them that if Xiao Zhou Mei did not have the surgery now she could not walk. Then the further she went away from the time of the hip fracture the harder it would be for her to recover. Plus she would have wasting of her muscles in the right leg because she was not using the leg and the bone in the right leg would become weaker due to increased loss of calcium and easier to fracture again in the future. Finally it would be difficult to control the pain in the hip without fixing the hip fracture.
The doctor did point out that this is a very serious fracture in elderly women. Why they asked was it so bad? Because the statistics showed that up to 50% of women die in the first two years after a hip fracture. This is because they have secondary complications like strokes, pneumonia, heart attacks and even fall and get a second fracture. The key, as the doctor already mentioned, was quick exercise right after the surgery.
The family and Xiao Zhou Mei agreed to the plan of action and to have the surgery immediately. The surgery went well but after the surgery Xiao Zhou Mei had a lot of pain in the hip. The doctor said this might be expected. Two days after the surgery the doctor ordered the nurse to start doing exercises. These exercises were primarily to start getting Xiao Zhou Mei to walk a few steps. This was hard but her family encouraged her a lot as the doctor told them to do. After 6 days in the hospital Xiao Zhou Mei was able to walk 10-15 steps with assistance from her family. They discussed with the doctor about taking her home and doing the exercises there. The doctor, the family and Xiao Zhou Mei all agreed to this plan of action.
After they arrived at home they found that eating, sleeping and walking were much more difficult. All of the hospital staff and especially the nurses were not there to help them. The next few weeks were very hard but slowly with a lot of work Xiao Zhou Mei made slow progress. During the 2-3 weeks after the fall and fracture of her hip Xiao Zhou Mei thought a lot about life. She had overheard the doctor tell her family that 50% of women with hip fractures could die within two years of the fracture. She realized she could easily be one of those 50%. What was the meaning to life? What was the meaning to the pain and suffering she had already gone through and would go through in the future?
A Chinese friend gave her a VCD to play on her VCD player at home. She played this one-day while she was all-alone at home. The VCD was about a man named Jesus. The VCD talked about his life. She was especially interested in the fact that he did a lot of healing of people but also that he seemed to have a lot of compassion on a lot of people. Xiao Zhou Mei remembered the story of a crippled woman. The story went like this, 'On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, 'Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.' Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God (Luke 13.10-13).'
Xiao Zhou Mei was interested in this story for several reasons. First, the woman had been crippled for a long time, eighteen years. Second, the illness was quite severe; she could not straighten up. Third, Jesus saw her and responded to her with great compassion. She did not even call to him, he caled to her first. Fourth, Jesus healed her and the healing was complete. Fifth and finally she praised God. The last point seemed a bit odd. Why would she praise God?
Then she realized as the film went on that Jesus was called the Son of God. The crippled lady praised God because the Son of God had healed her. Xiao Zhou Mei thought this Jesus was really amazing. She wanted to know more about Jesus. She asked the friend who gave her the VCD how she could know more about this Jesus. The friend told her to read a Bible. Her friend even gave her a Bible and asked Xiao Zhou Mei if she could come over and show her some things about Jesus in the Bible. This sounded good to Xiao Zhou Mei.
Her friend showed her a place, which said, 'Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20.30-31).' Xiao Zhou Mei's friend explained that Jesus did many other good acts of compassion for people. Those though that are written in the Bible are recorded so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ or the Son of God. This belief will then give us life in the name of Jesus. Xiao Zhou Mei thought this was really amazing and wanted to know more about this.
Her friend showed her another place in the Bible which said, 'for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believed in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3.16).' God sent Jesus Christ, his only son to the earth so that by believing in him we might have life forever with him. Xiao Zhou Mei was confused though about how to have this life. What was she to believe about Jesus that would give her eternal life? Was she to believe that he could he heal? Her friend told her that Jesus' compassion to the sick showed his love for them and his ability to do miracles showed his power of suffering and sickness. Who else but God had such power?
Xiao Zhou Mei knew that she needed power to heal from her problem with the broken hip. Her friend encouraged her everyday with walking as well as her family.
One month after going home from the hospital she returned to see the orthopedic surgeon for a follow up visit. The doctor was pleased to see how she was doing. He repeated an x-ray of the hip and said it was fine. Then he asked her the exercises she was doing. The doctor advised her on some other exercises and then asked if she lived near a swimming pool. Her daughter said they did. The doctor told her that the best exercise was swimming in a pool. This was because in a pool of water the weight on the foot and hip is only one eighth of that on dry land. Thus a person gets the benefit of exercising the leg and muscle without the pressure on the leg and hip. The doctor asked Xiao Zhou Mei to try and go swim daily for thirty minutes at a time for several weeks and then go every other day for thirty minutes at a time for several weeks and then follow up with him in a month.
Xiao Zhou Mei did these exercises in the pool and she dramatically improved over the next month. She had much less pain and did not even need pain medicines and her leg strength improved a lot. She was so very happy. The doctor had also had her take some calcium daily to build up her bones. The doctor wanted her to continue doing pool exercises for another month or so and then start walking. The walking would help build back up the strength of her bones.
Not only was Xiao Zhou Mei happy about her hip getting better she was happy because she and her friend had continued to talk about Jesus. Her friend had told her that if she believed that Jesus died for her sins on the Cross then she could have eternal life. Her friend explained it like this with a verse from the Bible, 'if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with the heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with the mouth that you confess and are saved (Romans 10.9,10).' Xiao Zhou Mei's friend explained that if we believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins or wrong doings before God and thus he is Lord of our lives and believe in our hearts that after he died God raised him from the dead, we will be saved from our sins to live a life in eternity with God.
Xiao Zhou Mei prayed a prayer like this with her friend, 'Dear Lord Jesus I believe that you died on the Cross-for my sins. I believe that after you died on the Cross-you were buried and then rose from the grave after three days to show your power over sin and death. I believe that you are alive today. Please come into my life to save me from my sins.' Xiao Zhou Mei prayed this prayer and gained eternal life with Jesus Christ. You too can pray this prayer and gain eternal life with Jesus Christ.