Retired Col Howard-Gash, Knee replacement
Nine years on and still in good shape
A knee replacement at the age of 49 years has meant Col (retired) Richard Howard –Gash has been able to continue with his diverse and dynamic career in the Military.
After a visit to the Army medical officer in 1998 Col Richard Howard-Gash knew his army career was about to change. Previously part of the elite Parachute Regiment Col Howard-Gash was not adverse to hard work and exercise. At times in his career he had covered around 150 miles per week running in Army boots and carrying 25 Kg of weight. However, there came a point where his knee pain was now significantly affecting his quality of life and even walking became difficult.
Despite this it still took Col Howard-Gash another six years before he underwent an exploratory operation at Spire Cardiff Hospital (then part of BUPA), to establish the cause of his pain. Mr Rhidian Morgan-Jones explains; “ we knew that the knee pain, Richard was experiencing was due to arthritis caused by a phenomenal amount of ’wear and tear’ over an amazing career. However, the question was whether any disease influencing surgery, such as realigning the limb or regenerating the cartilage within the knee would be possible. Unfortunately the arthritis was so advanced that only a knee replacement would give significant and lasting pain relief while maintaining function”.
Speaking to Col Howard-Gash he says “at the time of having to consider whether to have the procedure I knew chronologically I was rather young. However, the ‘wear and tear’ my joints had been under, due to my job, was a significant reason for requiring surgery. Prior to having my knee replaced I couldn’t walk very far and it was generally making life for my wife and myself rather miserable as I couldn’t undertake the activities I had previously enjoyed and even those things which I didn’t, such as shopping with my wife”. Mr Morgan Jones of the Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence says “where possible we try not to replace a knee joint unless it is absolutely necessary however in Richard’s case having considered all the options and giving great respect to his young age, I felt that knee replacement was the correct decision. Not all knee replacements are the same however, and I chose an implant specific to the demands and expectations that I knew Richard would, quite rightly, place on it”.
Col Howard-Gash says “Though the operation went well, I was surprised at the extent and pain involved in post operative recovery. Whilst everyone, including my surgeon, told me the recovery would be a long one, I don’t think I fully accepted the impact this would have”. However, Col Howard-Gash was determined to continue with his career and following his operation he served with the Foreign Office in Sudan and Afghanistan as well as working in Iraq. Whilst any form of running has also been ‘retired’, Col Howard-Gash still keeps fit. “My surgeon recommended that all forms of impact sport would be detrimental, so running was not going to be good for my knee. Instead I try and keep myself fit with non–weight bearing activities such as using a cross trainer, a rowing machine and swimming. More importantly, I can continue horse riding without the pain that I used to endure”
Mr Morgan-Jones goes on to say “I understand that knee replacement in young active adults remains controversial amongst many surgeons who say the patient is ‘too young’, but when it’s the right option, and it’s performed without complication, knee replacement can be life transforming”.
Richard Howard-Gash, Powys