In October 2013, my Total Hip Replacement (THR) by Mr McMinn will be five years old and I have never looked back! When I heard the most recent lecture with research on THRs and resurfacings, I did not recognise my own experience as one with limited mobility and speed since I continue to out-walk people much younger and fitter. When I don’t, it is not due to my THR for which I continue to be very grateful amidst all the media coverage of metal ion allergies.
It was the thoroughness and expertise of Mr McMinn and his excellent team that my own metal allergies were discovered: “On no account let anyone put any nickel prosthesis in you…” were Mr McMinn’s words following my blood tests. No other surgeon consulted even asked me about possible allergies. Indeed, two NHS Consultant teams here in Edinburgh denied the reliability and validity of the tests, though, after 18 months of negotiations one surgeon did concede to offer a ceramic head and titanium stem. The NHS offer was a standard 28mm head which I was worried could dislocate given my pre-arthritic, strenuous activities. I had lost confidence in the NHS process and outcomes.
Although my working life was mainly in or around the NHS – and politically too, I was a supporter of the NHS – I decided to have the operation by Mr McMinn and his excellent team in Birmingham.
After the usual post-op regime, which I followed assiduously, I resumed normal activities and added to the daily walks to and from work, into town, lengthy, strenuous and demanding hill walking and geology trips. Mostly these have been in Scotland which as most people know is difficult for walking due to the rocky terrain. Going down steep hills clad in knee high, thick heather – often slippery with rain and mist and uneven rocks slippery with lichen and mosses – demands the stability of my THR with 38mm ceramic femoral head, polyethylene cross over and titanium stem.
“How’s the hip?” people often ask, expecting me to be slowly limping around. “Hip?” I ask, “Oh gosh, never think about it, yes it’s fine thanks!”
I have observed friends who have had the standard THR even here in Edinburgh, renowned world-wide for medical excellence. They are much less agile than I am, even with routine work around house and garden. Maybe this is also due to the length and type of surgical approach used: the standard, long incision down the front of the femur compared to my neat short suture line/scar along the pant line at the top of the femur. As well as a great hip for swimming, the scar is cosmetically great for bikini wear too!
So, my experience has been one of moving from complete confidence in the NHS to the need to be as fully informed as it is possible to be about your own diagnosis and treatment. Although in principle I was against private care, in my case it was worth every penny! I am extremely thankful for the skills of the McMinn team, something which ought to be available to all, regardless of cost!