From being unable to tie her own shoelaces to going on a walking holiday, retired headteacher Jean Woods regained her independence after undergoing a left hip replacement on 30 January, 2023 under the care of our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Chipperfield. Read on to discover how Jean’s epidural anxieties were eased and how she found her first ever overnight stay in a hospital!
What symptoms were you experiencing?
“Before I had my hip surgery, I was in quite a bit of pain. It emanated from my groin, but it was also in my back and sometimes spread down to my knees. I couldn’t tie my own shoelaces or climb over stiles on countryside walks, which I found particularly difficult as I belong to a walking group that meets once a month.
“In the autumn of last year, I was talking to the leader and I was second to step over a stile. It was at this point that people in the group realised that I was struggling. I had a sudden realisation that I had a problem with the height of my left leg.
“Three years ago, I was sent to a hospital in Sevenoaks because I was experiencing a little bit of groin pain and they helped me by giving me physiotherapy exercises. When I went to see my GP in late autumn of 2022 with the same symptoms and asked for some more exercises, he said they could no longer help.”
What happened at your initial consultation?
“I’ve been a member of Benenden Health since March 2017. My hip seemed to deteriorate quite rapidly and I wanted a speedy operation, which is why I paid for my hip replacement surgery. I was so lucky because within four weeks of coming for my preoperative assessments, I had my hip replacement surgery.
“During my initial consultation, my sister and I met with Mr Chipperfield, and we were both very impressed with his attitude towards me and his sense of humour – he said he thought the two of us would be trouble for him! Mr Chipperfield is an experienced Consultant, he mentioned to my sister and I that we could research how many ops he’d done, and as I’m interested in maths and stats, I did and it was so encouraging.
“To add to his kindness, when we were in the hospital’s Pavilion restaurant, he waved at us through the window as we were sat at our table. This was a nice little personal touch which reassured me further. If I had to have another joint replacement, I wouldn’t hesitate at all to go back to Mr Chipperfield.”
Were your preoperative assessments helpful?
“Benenden Hospital was excellent at keeping in contact; I had a series of emails which informed me about any preparation and guidance ahead of my appointments. My preoperative assessment went well as I had various tests and check-ups completed, but I was very anxious. I’m very lucky that apart from a few minor operations, I’ve never had to stay overnight in a hospital and my anxiety was based around the fact that I needed to have an epidural.
“A few of my friends who’d had an epidural said to me, ‘Oh you won’t notice a thing, it’s fine, it will wear off within a few hours.’ But NOTHING appeased me. At the preoperative assessment, the nurse spent a long time reassuring me. She obviously realised it was an issue and informed me that an anaesthetist would telephone me. When I spoke to him, he listened to my concerns and reassured me.”
What happened on the day of your surgery?
“On the day of my surgery, my anxiety reared its head again. I was scheduled to be operated on late afternoon, but as soon the anaesthetist walked into my room, he realised that I wasn’t in the best frame of mind as my anxiety was increasing. Benenden Hospital were outstanding and amazing in their response to the situation. They changed the theatre schedule so that I could go into theatre first as the anaesthetist said that waiting a few hours wouldn’t help whatsoever. What other hospital would do this?”
How did you find the facilities and surroundings?
“Benenden Hospital is in a rather lovely position, very rural and therefore quiet. Although I’ve been to Benenden village before, I’ve never actually seen the hospital. But as I entered, it was a little unusual, as I’d been accompanying my sister to her appointments up in Manchester, but Benenden Hospital doesn’t have the usual hospital smell! It’s so light and airy as you walk through to reception and, not only that, but it’s also spotlessly clean. This is all very reassuring because you know there won’t be a high risk of infection. Find out more about our commitment to infection prevention and control here.
“I had a room all to myself and the quiet serenity means you can recover well from your operation. The facilities are top class, I really don’t think they can be bettered. I was delighted.”
How was your recovery?
“The aftercare I received was excellent, and straight after the operation I was absolutely staggered about how quickly I was up out of bed. The Physiotherapist was there a few hours afterwards and taught me how to use the crutches. The next day I was surprised I had to walk up and down a set of five steps and I passed all the medical tests. I couldn’t believe that I could go home only one night after this major operation. This is not thanks to anything I did, it’s thanks to Mr Chipperfield, the anaesthetist, the nursing staff and to the physiotherapy team. Everybody works well together to make you feel happy and comfortable.
“I would also like to say a special thanks to the Hospital Director, Jane Abbott, for her kind and caring nature. Jane popped in for a chat while I was recovering in the ward and she was so wonderful to talk to. Having been a headteacher, I understand the value in speaking to those whose lives you’re playing a part in improving. For Jane, this is patients and for me, it was students. Thank you, Jane!
“It might seem a simple thing to some people, but I can now tie my own shoelaces again and it’s wonderful being independent. Three months after my operation I went on a holiday to France where I averaged walking four miles a day pain-free and I was delighted to achieve this. I also love London, so I couldn’t wait to get back there – to museums, art galleries, shopping (everyone needs retail therapy). My life is back to where it was, and that makes me so content.”
Jean’s advice to anyone considering joint replacement surgery
“If you’re told, as I was by Mr Chipperfield, that my joint had seen better days, it was certainly non-reparable and I was limited in joint mobility, then it’s a mistake to hold back from seeking help. Even if you’re reticent, steal yourself, because the pain, the flexibility and the movement of your joint isn’t going to improve if you don’t access support. Benenden Hospital will do their utmost to make you feel at ease and help you through your orthopaedic journey from start to finish. Truly, I don’t think it could be bettered.”
Considering private hip and knee replacement surgery?
To contact us about private hip and knee replacement surgery, book a consultation today by completing our online booking form, contacting us via Livechat or by calling our Private Patient Team on 01580 363 158.
Published on 09 June 2023