John Spencer had a hip resurfacing operation with Mr Jeremy Latham, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Southampton Hospital. Here is his story.
"The staff were great. I could actually feel myself getting better every day I was there"
Following a career in the military as a search and rescue diver, John Spencer, 58, joined the Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter team based in Lee on the Solent, Hampshire. He worked, often in treacherous conditions, as a winchman getting lowered onto boats during rescues.
He had always been active and maintained his fitness, but in 2010 started to notice pain in his groin which gradually got worse until it was impeding his day to day activities and ability to do the job he loves.
People noticed that he was limping and he was struggling to get on a bike, let alone cycle anywhere. After approaching his GP he was sent for an X-ray.
“When I got back she said: ‘Right, you need to be operated on as soon as possible if you want to continue doing your job’. But she also said I was unlikely to get surgery on the NHS as I was too young. I was lucky that the company insurance covered the surgery, which was fantastic. I saw Mr Latham in November and he could have operated in December, but my shifts at work had already been agreed, so I waited until the New Year.
“The hospital was really, really good. I had my own room and the catering was out of this world. The staff were great. I could actually feel myself getting better every day I was there. I remember waking up just after coming out of recovery and I felt fantastic. I noticed straightaway that there was no pain in my groin, which is what had given me trouble sleeping before.
"I had the operation on a Friday. I was up and about that night which felt a bit strange, but by the next day I had the physiotherapist in and she had me up doing exercises. I knew that I'd get fit quickly. I was quite determined. In five days I was out of hospital and walking up and down the stairs."
Mr Latham worked closely with John's physiotherapist to establish a regime which saw him increase the amount he was walking by a minute a day.
"In no time at all I was walking for 45 minutes. I had always said that I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible and I went back to work after three months. By the four month stage I was flying again, kneeling in the back of helicopters and I've had no problems kneeling at all."
John went back to work as a winchman but following a heavy landing on one of his first rescues decided not to risk further damage and now works as a winch operator.
"I don't have to go down on the winch but I am kneeling all the time and I do have to lift the stretchers and I've had no problems with my hip. I still look after myself. Most days I do sit ups, press ups, light weights, some work on the exercise bike and go out walking. I'm not in any pain at all. I could not have done that before the operation.
"I now see Mr Latham every year and he’s been brilliant. If I’d gone down the NHS route their waiting lists may have meant I had to wait months which would have impacted on my job and the income I could bring home. You hear about it all the time and it’s awful when people could be back working. If I need it I’d definitely go to Spire again.”