Christine, 65, had been having trouble with her knee for around three years, but it worsened until it became unbearably painful.
She explains, “My friend and I both lost our husbands, and we both had 3-bedroom houses. As there wasn’t really anything to keep us in Essex, we made the decision to sell up and move to Lincolnshire. We purchased a property that was big enough for us both to live independently, but we could share household chores like cleaning and cooking. However, due to osteoarthritis, the pain in my knee was worsening all the time, and so I went to see my GP.”
Already on prescribed painkillers, Christine asked if she could increase them, but the doctor advised that it wasn’t possible as she was already on the highest recommended dose. “Then I asked about the possibility of being put on an NHS waiting list for a knee replacement, but because I hadn’t seen a physiotherapist yet, I couldn’t,” she says. “An appointment was booked for me, though when I attended it, I was told that my knee was past the point where it would benefit from physio. That was a blow, because I was in constant pain.”
Christine admits that being stuck in a situation from which there was seemingly no way out affected her mental health. “Everything was getting me down and I felt quite depressed.”
However, help was on its way. Christine’s friend asked if she would be prepared to go for a private knee replacement, which she hadn’t even considered due to cost. After discussing it, her friend offered to pay for the treatment for her. “I was very fortunate, as otherwise I wouldn’t even been able to think about it,” she recalls. “All I wanted was to be free from persistent pain after my treatment. Even if I moved in bed at night, the pain would waken me up.”
After going online to research providers, the friends decided that The Hospital Group had the most helpful and informative website, and so Christine got in touch by telephone. She ended up speaking to Chris, a Surgeon Assistant, who told her about the procedure and gave her a date for her operation. “From there, everything went quickly! I spoke to my surgeon, anaesthetist and physiotherapist, and everything was done within about 2 ½ weeks of the initial call.”
Christine has nothing but praise for the people she spoke to in the run up to her knee replacement. She says, “My surgeon, Mr Makrides, was easy to talk to, and he answered all my questions. Sometimes I feel that people in positions like that can seem a bit condescending, but he wasn’t at all – he even popped in to see my in the hospital pre and post op, which was lovely of him.”
And the great patient care continued when Christine’s surgery day came round. “A car had been arranged to take me to and from Burcot Hall Hospital, which meant it was one less thing to think about as I prepared for the operation,” Christine says. “I was in hospital for two nights as my operation had taken place later in the day, and everyone was so kind. Even the lady who came in to clean my room was chatty and bubbly! There was no one at all who wasn’t friendly. They all made sure that they passed the time of day with me.”
As for the surgery itself, Christine says, “It all went very smoothly and I’m very happy with it all. There were no surprises, because I knew what the operation involved from my research and my conversations with my surgeon, surgeon assistant, anaesthetist and physiotherapist. It’s inevitable that you’ll be in some sort of discomfort afterwards, but that’s better than being in constant pain – even the first couple of weeks is nothing in comparison to that constant pain from arthritis.”
On Christine’s return home, her friend was there to support her as she started her recovery. “I don’t think I could have managed without her, as she waited on me hand and foot!” she says. “I like to be busy, and doing nothing drives me mad, but I knew I had to take things slowly. You have to be so careful following a knee replacement, and initially I couldn’t even potter in the garden. I admit I was a bit exasperated at not being able to do much, but I can do more and more as time goes on!”
It's now just over five weeks since Christine’s knee replacement and she’s very pleased with her recovery so far. “I’ve been doing the recommended exercises, plus I went to see a physiotherapist locally, and have just been for the second time. They’re happy with my progress and said it’s all coming along nicely. I’ll go for one more appointment just to make sure everything’s 100% OK.
“I’m quite happy with my results at this stage – I have no pain, it’s just discomfort, which I can manage. The physio advised that a lot of it’s to do with the nerve endings recovering. I do get some strange sensations and sometimes my knee ‘jumps,’ but it’s all part of the recovery process.”
Christine’s message to anyone suffering from severe pain, as she was, is clear. “I would recommend this type of surgery, because there’s no way that you can continue being in constant pain – it affects everything you do day to day. I was very depressed because I felt that no one would help me, and as it was osteoarthritis, it was never going to get better on its own. Having a knee replacement has made so much difference to how I live my life now.”
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