Mrs Betty Storey, age 78, had a unicondylar (partial) knee replacement (minimally invasive) in September 2009, performed by Mr Ahmad Ali, Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon. Living alone, she had completely lost her independence due to arthritis. She was unable to walk or take part in any activities. Here she tells her story of her diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
When did you first start to have problems with your knee?
I really started to struggle around nine months prior. This may not sound too long, but I decided not to hang around with getting it sorted. I had previously suffered with my other knee for around two years, and knew that the symptoms were similar. When I had the first one replaced (with Mr Ali), he advised me that the other knee may deteriorate in the same manner. Therefore I knew what to expect, and didn’t want to go through the same pain. Mr Ali helped me then, explaining everything in simple terms, and assured me of the outcomes of the operation. Therefore I knew I wanted him for the second knee.
How did the problem affect your day to day life?
It severely hindered my independence. I am unable to drive, so I rely heavily on public transport. Getting in and out of the back seat of a car was painful. Stairs were impossible. When I used the Underground, my son would research into all the stations that didn’t have stairs, and I would plan my journey to fit – even if that meant an expensive taxi journey. Even getting out of bed was a problem. I actually went on a ‘train holiday’ to Switzerland in September, and it was then I realised that I could not go on without a replacement. I had to rely on a walking stick, and couldn’t get on and off the trains with assistance. It was very embarrassing.
How did you go about seeking medical advice?
As I had met Mr Ali before, I knew that I would return to him. Mr Ali actually wanted to perform the operation before my holiday, but the recovery would have meant I let my friends down. In hindsight I wish I took his advice, as the pain was unbearable – I lived on painkillers. When I arrived home, I immediately booked my operation. I think this was an important moment, as Mr Ali didn’t push me into making a decision. I felt that the final decision was my own, and that he was there to help when required. I felt informed enough to make this when the time suited me.
What were the treatment options were offered to you?
I could have waited, but this would have meant continuing to live on painkillers. This would have also meant the knee would continue to deteriorate, as Mr Ali explained. “It’s just the way you walk”.
What made you decide to go ahead with surgery?
Quite simply the fantastic results that were achieved with my first knee. Going into surgery there is always a fear of the pain afterwards. However, I can tell you, that is nothing compared to the pain you are in with knee trouble.
When did you have the operation?
The operation was carried out in September 2009. I was in for one night, and I actually walked out of the hospital the next day, with no need for even crutches! All I used was my walking stick – which I don’t use anymore! I was told by Mr Ali, and the physio, that I should exercise as frequently as possible. I must say that I think I wore out my bungalow carpet with the amount of times I walked around. It was a great feeling.
What was your opinion of the care you received at Spire Hartswood?
I believe it was faultless. The one-on-one care was amazing, and the constant discussion with surgeons and nurses offers great reassurance. I hold in high regard the fact that you are treated as an individual, and not just told what to do and when to do it. If I had anything to moan about I would – but I sincerely believe that Hartswood provides a great service.
What did the recovery process involve?
After leaving, I returned to The Hartswood for four sessions of physio. I was then given a plan of exercises that I could continue at home. It was paramount to stick to these, and I truly believe that it is part of the reason that my recovery has been so promising. The physiotherapists gave me great advice, and I was able to put all this into practice, to aid my improvements.
What impact has the surgery had on your life?
I am happy to just get on with life. Some people may say that I am ‘back to normal’ but I believe I am better than ‘normal’. I suffered with knee pain for over five years, so to now have no pain at all is a huge relief. I now don’t even think about my knee, and forget that I had it done. I can now continue to holiday – I really enjoy travel – and have a trip booked to Croatia.
What advice would you give to another patient in a similar position to you?
Do not hesitate. The discomfort for a week or so after surgery is nothing compared to the pain you may currently be suffering. You don’t realise how much you change your everyday life to deal with the pain – until you have witnessed it yourself. Getting your ‘life back’ is a great feeling. You just life again – without thinking or preparing!