Sue’s problems with her knees first started in 2007 when she fell over and twisted her leg.
For about three months, she struggled to walk and arthritis began to set in over the next few years.
"It got to the point where it was really impacting on my life," she recalls.
"Lifting anything was virtually impossible because it would give me real pain, so would just getting in and out of the car. I’m a lawn bowler and, although I was still playing, it was a struggle."
“I feel like a new person and I just want to give other people the confidence to do it.”
Mrs Sue Bell
Sue, 58, from Coxheath, went to see her doctor and was finally given an appointment at a local Hospital where she had an X-ray which confirmed that she needed a double knee replacement. She then underwent eight weeks of physio but the problem still persisted.
She had to wait months for the operation so, already familiar with the Hospital as a member since 2008, she turned to Benenden Hospital via the NHS Choose and Book Scheme.
"I was given an appointment with Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Alex Chipperfield really quickly.
"He was very personable and made me feel welcome and calm. You can speak to him about any worries you have, and he will clearly explain everything to you so that you’re not under any illusions about anything.
"If you go to him with a list of things you want to know, he will answer all of them."
Sue, a grandmother-of-five, underwent her first knee replacement in 2015, under general anaesthetic.
"I didn’t want to have both my knees done at the same time as I wanted to recover from the first one first. It took about nine months before I felt 100%."
She then had her second operation in December 2017 under local anaesthetic, following the opening of the newly-developed hospital.
"My recovery was a lot faster because I had the confidence that I would get better.
" If I felt that way the first time, I would have had them both done at the same time. Both times, I was kept in overnight for three days.
"I love the personal touch that Benenden Hospital provides and it is the leader in after-care. I particularly liked that I was given an X-ray of my knees to take away so that I could see the work that they had done, and not all hospitals do that.
"The new hospital is so much better in all senses and it’s great that it’s all together rather than split across the site.
"It was completely efficient from right from reception to being on the ward, the information on the TV screens, the lifts, outpatients and physio.
"From my first appointment through to the end of my treatment, the staff at Benenden listened to any issues I had, however minor, and made me feel very at ease."
Sue works in administration for husband Glyn's plumbing and heating firm and is an active member of Hunton Bowls Club, and also enjoys swimming and Zumba.
She recently completed a 10-mile sponsored walk from Mote Park to Leeds Castle, raising £900 for Macmillan Cancer Relief.
She added: "It was a challenge and I just wanted to prove to myself that it was something that I was capable of.
"I feel like a new person and I just want to give other people the confidence to do it."
Published 18 July 2018