Total Hip Replacement

I am not writing this as a boast or out of some kind of mis guided triumphalism. I really just want to say that if you let things take their natural course, sit back and don't complain and never kick or prod and annoy the powers that be, which even includes our beloved NHS, then you could possibly be overlooked or under prioritised by the system.

I realised something was wrong in February 2019. After a heavy work schedule my back was painful and I was developing a limp.

It took two weeks of phone calls to eventually see a doctor, not even my own doctor who said I had arthritis and suggested paracetamol. When I asked to be referred he told me that he couldn't do that. Only my own doctor can make referrals.

After another two weeks of phoning my surgery I finally got an appointment with my Dr. He was only too pleased to refer my case to the local msk provider run by Circle Health, but warned that it could take some time. In the meantime he sent me to have an xray at the hospital the next day. It was now April 2019.

6 weeks later I decided to ring Circle and they brought my appointment forward to the following week. It was a telephone appointment. I remember it was a hot June afternoon and I laid in Green Park near to my work and waited for the call.

It was quite straight forwards. Circle asked questions about my life, work and what pain levels I was experiencing. Then they said they would be able to make a better assessment if I got an xray. I told them I had had one two months ago. There was an embarrassing silence then I was told that from what I had said it was pretty clear I had OA and that they would contact me within 7 weeks.

In August 2019 I was contacted by phone again by Circle and asked similar questions and again prompted to have an xray. I again explained that I'd had the xray back in April. They said I should start face to face physio in September.

At last. I had been longing to talk to someone face to face and explain my symptoms. The constant aches, the shooting pains, the lack of sleep. The Physiotherapist was nice and asked me similar questions, was sympathetic when I told her what effect it was having on my life, then told me I should have had an xray. I told her that I'd had one 6 months ago. She looked embarrassed. I was shown 2 exercises and told to come back in a month.

In October appointment I was told that there were no available appointments at the physio gym as it was fully booked but to keep doing the exercises as shown on a photocopied A4 sheet I'd been given.

Throughout this period I had become less confident in my own ability to do my work which was quite physical, but I had also lost confidence in the NHS' ability to help me. I gave up going to see the physio and wrote a letter of complaint to my Dr about Circle and their inability to move forward with my treatment. I asked to see a consultant and for an MRI to show definitively what the problem was.

In January 2020 I finally got to speak to a Circle registrar who was sympathetic but only conceded to my request for an MRI because I asked if she had seen my xray. When I showed her the letter for my xray appointment 9 months before she looked embarrassed.

My MRI showed that there was no cartilage in my right hip and there was OA in my lower spine.

I was referred to begin an informal class of exercise and therapy at my local community centre February 2020.

Then Covid hit and everything stopped.

Roll forward to 2021. I was now without work after being made redundant in February

I'd had no contact from Circle Health since March 2020 so in June 2021 I wrote this story and asked what they were going to do about it?

In August 2021 I was contacted by Circle and for the first time felt I was being listened to. I was told that I would see a consultant to discuss my options.

In September I was interviewed by a consultant who offered a total hip replacement. I had this done in November 2021 and six weeks later I am just weening myself off the walking stick. I won't say that I've had no problems since the op but the pain in my hip has gone and I am slowly building back the muscles and making a recovery to what feels like a bit of normality.

It took 3 years and I think Covid was responsible for at least one of those but I don't think I would have got to this stage had I not written my letters pointing out the mistakes, cock-ups and delays people like us have to endure in a system that is underfunded and overlooked and that is now in danger of being overtaken by private companies with profit as a priority.

Only by highlighting the problems will things get better so write those emails, pen those complaints and if you know of someone who can't do it for themselves then write on their behalf.

Good Luck and Best Wishes

Hipster

Comments

  • SarahS
    SarahS Moderator Posts: 182

    Hi @Hipster

    Thank you for your post! I think that you have made a few valid points here that many of us can absolutely relate to. Unfortunately our services are very stretched, and although we can be understanding and patient, that doesn't help those who are constantly living with chronic pain.

    I agree that we need to keep soldiering on and contacting GPs, specialists etc to ensure that we are still in the loop and one thing that many of us don't do is keep a note of appointments/ contact made for ourselves. I started doing this recently as I felt like I has gotten nowhere, and it turned out that there was some sort of lack of communication between my GP and rheumatologist.

    We are all here on the community as well to offer advice and lend a listenting ear (obviously we're not medical professionals but we can share our experiences)

    Do keep talking to us and joining in around the community- it's great to have you here!

    Sarah

  • Hipster
    Hipster Member Posts: 3

    Hi Sarah,

    That's a very important message. Keep a pen and paper next to you or if you are tech savvy, use your phone notes app to take details of the people who call you and the dates of those calls and appointments. It's much more powerful to have exact names and dates if you have to make a complaint.

    The system is overstretched and I have all the sympathy in the world for those who have to work with it. BUT that's not my problem and only if those people can show the politicians that the customers are not happy will change happen. The pen really is as powerful as a sword, or in modern parlance, the thumbs!

  • kpdalston
    kpdalston Member Posts: 6

    Hi @Hipster I am delighted to have recently had a hip replacement but have had a similar experience in terms of getting to that point.

    Some of it has been covid related but not all.

    I wish I had been more assertive at times, since it would have saved me several months of pain and limitations on myself and my family. So I am sharing in case others are also reticent about respectfully asking for more help.

    There were quite a few admin issues causes by underfunding of these type of roles - I was accidentally discharged and pre op tests had to be done multiple times because of inability of two hospitals to share information.

    After my hip pain got comsiderably worse after several years of being manageable I was told by a GP that it could not have changed that much and not referred for an x-ray, perhaps becasue I am relatively young (51 at the time 😉). When I did get an x- ray it showed all my cartilage had gone. I was then told by the specialist in orthopaedics that hip replacements only last 15 years and they advised I wait for a couple of years to have one. Fortunately this conclusion was overruled quite quickly by the senior consultant and I was put on the waiting list and got surgery a year after.


    take care

    Kathryn

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