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New hip recipient delighted to be back at work

16 September 2004

New hip recipient delighted to be back at work six weeks after surgery

For 55 year old Havelock North man John, hearing he had been booked to have hip surgery at Hawke’s Bay Hospital in June this year was music to his ears. After suffering from gradually worsening pain over the past five years, he says his new hip has given him his life back.

“Five years of constant grinding pain vanished the day I had surgery,” he said. “Only someone who has suffered with a painful hip knows how it can really take the shine off your enjoyment of life,” he said. “I feel like I have come out from ‘living under a grey cloud’ for a very long time.”

John describes himself as a fairly staunch ‘bloke’ who doesn’t like taking painkillers and had no desire to ‘get through’ life dependent on medication. “Over the past few years the pain definitely got worse – but despite that I was able to keep on working at an electrical supply company in Napier. John reckons on a scale of 1-10, his level of pain would’ve been around 8 before his operation.

“I’m lucky in that mine’s a sit-down job, so once I was sitting, I was reluctant to move as the pain was definitely worse getting up and down from a chair,” he said. “I tried to ‘blot’ out the pain but there was no getting away from it until I had surgery…then it was instant relief,” he said

John has nothing but praise for the care he received in Hawke’s Bay Hospital. “I was on standby, and had a week’s notice, and from the moment I arrived, everything went like clock-work.

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“I was up and out of bed within 24 hours of surgery, and took my first few steps aided by a walking frame. I had epidural pain relief, which meant I wasn’t left feeling groggy. I was in control and that was a good feeling.

“There was certainly no time to lie around recuperating I was in ‘recovery’ mode from day one. Visits from the physio and occupational therapist saw my exercise regime underway pretty well straight away. I graduated from walking to the bathroom, to circuits of the ward, to negotiating stairs within the first few days,” he said. “I have to say it was a fairly full-on training schedule…but by sticking with the programme, I made great progress.

“Four days after surgery I could get in and out of bed independently, shower and dress myself…I’d passed the important milestones and was homeward-bound!

“Once home I discovered the benefits of all the nifty gadgets the hospital had lent us….there was the toilet seat lifter; the ingenious device to help put your socks on; the long-handled shoe horn; the block to raise the height of my favourite chair; a stool for in the shower, and the ‘sticks’ which I have now abandoned.

“I have walked miles around Havelock and that’s been a real bonus for the dog! I started aqua-jogging which was particularly good early on, as there was no jarring on my body. I kept up with my exercises, and was back at work six weeks after surgery. I haven’t looked back,” he said.

John’s wife Judy said the couple went on a trip to Australia earlier this year to see their young grandchildren – unfortunately ‘Poppa John’ was incapable of playing with the active three and four year olds, or walking on the beach – or anywhere for that matter, due to the intense pain from his hip. “It will be a different story next trip” says Judy “I’ll be sitting back reading a magazine, letting John make up for lost time with his grandsons.”

“I’ve got back the man I married…having his hip replaced has given him more than a pain-free life – he has a new positive lease on life…and we’re all benefiting from that,” Judy said.

John is one of 245 people to have a total hip or knee replacement at Hawke’s Bay Hospital in the past financial year (1 July 2003 – 30 June 2004) These people will have a dramatic improvement in their quality of life through relieved pain, regained mobility and personal independence.

At a recent Healthcare Services Advisory Committee meeting, committee chair, Dr David Marshall said in the past financial year (1 July 2003 – 30 June 2004) Hawke’s Bay District Health Board performed 7% more elective surgery than in the previous 12 month period. Healthcare Services, the DHB’s provider-arm exceeded its surgery contracts with the DHB. “In some cases we overprovided, without exceeding the budget, and this is good news for Hawke’s Bay people as more people benefited from surgery.

“Making use of the mobile surgical bus also paid dividends for the DHB, with an additional 154 people receiving surgery in the past financial year. Additional funding also paid for 14 people to have surgery at Royston Hospital, the region’s private hospital.

“There are now 38% fewer people waiting over six months for their first appointment with a specialist, and there are now 72% less people with certainty waiting over six months for elective surgery – these are fantastic achievements for the DHB, and are the result of a concerted effort by a large number of staff, from surgeons to booking clerks.

“The good news continues,” says Dr Marshall, “as this year an additional $1.5 million is being invested in elective services, and we are expecting to perform another 55 orthopaedic procedures worth approximately $700,000 as a result of the government’s commitment to inject more funds into orthopaedic surgery this year.


Appendix 1

Total hip replacement

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint; the socket is in the pelvis and is called the acetabulum, whilst the ball is at the top of the thigh (femur) and is known as the head of femur.

With arthritis, the cartilage covering the bone begins to wear away, the two bones begin to rub together and this results in painful movements, there is associated wasting of the muscles around the hip and thigh. When the symptoms become severe, a joint replacement is recommended.

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