Nuffield Health patient returns to active lifestyle after connected rehab recovery from double-hip surgery

For a period of about five years, Mrs Sian Lee really suffered with leg and back pain but neither she nor her GP had realised it was down to her worn out hips. At 58, her mobility became so limited that even on crutches she struggled to get to her mum’s house two doors down and was contemplating a life watched from her window. In September 2020, with Covid putting a stop on everything, she consulted Mr Alun John at Nuffield Health Cardiff and Vale Hospitals and at her request, had both her hips replaced on 8 December 2020. This has changed her life completely and she has returned to work and to active living in double quick time!

First published: August 2021

Sian Lee, from Tonypandy, has worked all her life in health and social care and has brought up three fine children with her husband, a carpenter by trade. Now with six grandchildren, she was hoping to spend more time with the family and reduce to part time work.  Last summer, her mobility worsened and not only could she no longer drive, it was also very difficult even to get in and out of the car as a passenger. She says, “To begin with I noticed a limp after walking more than a mile and eventually, after quietly putting up with it, I was having difficulty sleeping, lying down was impossible and the pain down my legs to my knees and in my back was horrendous. I didn’t have the classic symptom of groin pain so that may have delayed the initial diagnosis. I did take anti-inflammatories and tried cortisone injections but nothing really worked.”

By asking friends, she discovered Nuffield Health’s Cardiff and Vale Hospitals had recommenced paid-for care and surgery, after supporting the NHS and national Covid effort, caring for over 1,500 NHS patients locally. She then researched online to select her surgeon. Mr Alun John, with his vast experience, research and hip replacement specialism, was the hip doctor Mrs Lee felt should do the job and she has been over the moon with his approach and care. She says “When I asked if both hips could be done at once, he said that it wasn’t the normal practice but if I was positive and motivated enough, he would consider it. In preparation, I was advised to take extra iron to put me in the best health for the procedure. I opted for the bi-lateral surgery as it saved me recuperation time as well as money and both hips were equally bad, so I didn’t really have a leg to stand on!”

After the evening procedure, Mrs Lee was back on her feet the next morning with a frame and was home from hospital with crutches just four days later. Getting up and downstairs at home happened straight away. She explains. “I was booked for surgery at the beginning of December but sadly this had to be postponed by a week when Mr John needed a Covid test. He phoned me personally to explain the delay, as he knew I would be very disappointed and even spoke with my husband too. I still had the operation just before my 59th birthday and, with Christmas, it meant that my husband could be off ‘til the new year to do the cooking and household chores.”

“Straight after the operation, the pain went and the discomfort from the procedure was minimal. The physios were delighted with how well I did all my exercises. By the end of February, it was so liberating to be able to nip out in the car by myself to Asdas, without worrying about safety or pain. By the end of March I returned to work and to caring for my grandchildren.”

“The team at the Vale hospital became my family for a while, as Covid meant no visitors. Even though they were really busy, they were all so nice, chatty and friendly. From the porters who took me to xray, staff bringing food, to the physios and the nurses, and of course Mr John. It was a lovely experience and if you have the right mental outlook, I would really recommend the double hip replacement. It has been absolutely brilliant and now I can do everything I want to with no restrictions. Mr John discharged me at my follow up in early June but said I am welcome to telephone any time. My family and I, we are all so grateful.”

Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon at Nuffield Health Cardiff and Vale Hospitals, Mr Alun John comments, “Mrs Lee has done really well and I am delighted with her excellent progress.  Generally replacement hips are needed because the ball and socket joint wears out either from osteoarthritis or as a result of a previous fracture or dislocation of the thigh bone. The pain this causes is often not just in the hip and groin area but can be referred pain down to the knee, which wakes people at night, and can prevent them from driving or working or even tying their shoe laces. The rapid recovery programme at our Joint Replacement Centre Wales enables patients to get back to normal activities more quickly, it reduces pain and potential post operative complications, such as deep vein thrombosis. Bi-lateral hip surgery is not suitable for everybody but for those with the right clinical and motivational attributes, it is safe, comfortable and extremely beneficial.”

To read more:

Wales Online story: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/special-features/meet-woman-who-celebrated-59th-21059495

Style of the City:  http://www.styleofthecitymag.co.uk/nuffield-health-hip-hip-hooray-double-quick-hips/

Nuffield Health’s Joint Replacement Centre Wales: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sponsored/joint-replacement-centre-wales--9921988

Last updated Tuesday 3 August 2021