If you’ve ever broken a bone, you’ll know how painful it is. Now imagine having to suffer two breaks every year. That’s what 13-year-old Charlotte Oliver has had to go through, due to a condition she has suffered since birth. Satan’s Little Helper immediately asked what could be done to help.
On average, Charlotte has two bone breaks a year – 30 in total over the course of her life. We’re not talking a small crack or a tiny fracture, nor something you might exaggerate to your mates to earn kudos. It’s usually a biggy and requires an urgent trip to the hospital!
Charlotte has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bones. She doesn’t produce enough collagen, which means her bones aren’t as strong as other people’s.
“She’s had 30 breaks since she was born, normally her femur,” explains her mum Amanda.
The femur runs from your hip to your knee. It’s the longest bone in your body and usually the strongest, so if it breaks, you’ll end up in hospital.
“Charlotte has had over 20 surgeries to set her bones or correct them after a break. Her last one was in January 2021. I’ll always remember when she broke both femurs at once; she wanted to get some putty off a coffee table and, instead of walking to get it, she launched herself at it and missed!”
Charlotte is in a wheelchair but uses a walker at home. Amanda says she handles it all like a trooper.
“She’s got an unbelievably high pain threshold. Once, she was in the hospital and all she was worried about was her sister getting upset about it!”
Unfortunately, Charlotte will have her condition forever, but Amanda explains there are a few things doctors can do to make it more manageable.
“She has a collagen infusion once a year, which makes a big difference. On the x-ray, you can almost see it fill in the cracks in her bones. She’s also had titanium rods inserted into her femur. They’ll do the same to her tibia (one of the bones that make up the shin) next.”
Winter can be tough for Charlotte. The cold digs deep into her bones and causes her muscles to stiffen. However, a spa pool can help her relax, provide pain relief and enable a good night’s sleep — so Satan's Little Helper was keen to arrange one for her.
“I love the spa pool!” says Charlotte. “When I use it at night, I’m a lot more relaxed when I get into bed and I can sleep easier, because my muscles aren’t sore and achy. It also means I can get up easier and I’m more motivated during the day.”
The spa provides other benefits, too.
“I can have my friends around and we can hang out in the spa pool. It’s something we can all do together and it makes me feel included, which is important to me.”
Amanda agrees and says she’s had a few worries taken off her plate as well.
“When you’ve got a child with a disability, it’s lovely to see them doing the same activities as their friends. It’s amazing that Charlotte can do that and get pain relief, thanks to the spa pool.”