She was born with a dislocated hip and as a child underwent a series of operations of varying success as surgeons in her home country of Holland tried to fix the problem.
The operations continued through her teens and beyond and, at times, Janet van Dam, who now lives near Bury St Edmunds, wondered if anything could give her lasting relief from the problems with her hip that had plagued her since childhood.
Now 53-year-old Janet is driving the tractor at the farm she shares with partner Ray, producing wheat, oats, barley and lots and lots of hay!
And when work is done on the farm Janet likes nothing better than a walk with her two dogs Dobby and Rufus.
Following a series of operations Janet’s hip pain returned in 2015 and she began to look for a treatment options which led her to a meeting with Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Trevor Lawrence at Spire Parkway Hospital.
“I spent a lot of time looking for the right man and as soon as I met Mr Lawrence I knew he was the one who could really make a difference,” she said.
But replacing Janet’s hip presented a number of challenges.
“In my opinion the previous surgeons had done good work but there comes a point when a hip replacement is more or less inevitable. Janet started life with a dislocated hip and early arthritis was always a strong possibility,” explained Mr Lawrence.
“There were several difficulties to be overcome including a badly angled thigh bone and an inward-pointing right knee joint. There were also two broken screws from a previous operation buried in the thigh bone.
“I had to find a channel down the crooked femur to allow me to install the stem of the new hip. Then, by correctly positioning this stem, I was also able to improve the overall alignment of her leg, putting the knee at a much better and more comfortable angle.”
Mr Lawrence then took the patient’s natural but worn ball of the hip joint and ground it into small fragments before using it to repair the socket in the pelvic bone which the replacement hip fits in to.
“Hip replacement surgery can be undertaken on patients of any age, I have done many for people in their twenties. There is no need to suffer because you think you are ‘too young’ as implants can now last for many, many years,” he said.
As for Janet, who besides working on the farm also works as a medical thermographer, homoeopath and holistic health consultant, she said: “I still have a very slight limp but my leg is looking straighter than ever before. I am now enjoying buying skirts and dresses so I can show off the new-look me.”
Janet ready for work on the farm